March 10, 2022 (Updated: May 4, 2023)
A few weeks ago, we wrote an article about examples of hub content. When researching, we found out that there wasn’t that much information available about the topic. It seemed like a good comparison for Hub content was like episodes of a TV show. But the more we studied, it seemed like hub content vs. episodic content were actually two different things. Today we’re going to break down those distinctions.
Hub content is regularly scheduled content that provides a reason to subscribe to a channel or service and keep coming back. Examples include vlogs, webinars, or a formatted interview series. Because YouTube and Google created the concept, it’s most popular with videos. The purpose of hub content is to build a loyal audience who subscribes to your channel and continues to come back regularly. It’s also used to educate the audience whenever possible.
Episodic content is long-form content broken into smaller chapters or episodes. The collection becomes a story that follows a plot and reveals more to the audience with each episode. The point of this type of content is to connect with your audience to get them to keep coming back for more. Though you can use episodic content with articles, infographics, and podcasts, video is often the most popular format.
By the definitions of both content types, you can see the initial confusion, right? Both hub and episodic content sound similar, but some tiny nuances make them different, such as:
One of the biggest differences between hub and episodic content is their organization and how they’re segmented. Episodic content follows a storyline where each piece directly relates to the next. You can’t miss a piece or you’re going to be lost. Think about a television show. A specific episode or a season finale may end on a cliffhanger to keep you coming back. The writers don’t fully resolve something until they’re ready to move on to the next. This keeps viewers tuning in each week to see if they’ll get to the resolution they crave.
Hub content can follow this method too, but it’s usually organized by a theme instead of a storyline. This means for hub content, for example, you might make a series of videos about SEO, but your audience can watch all of them or just one without missing anything. All the individual pieces in the series tie back to the principal theme but don’t necessarily depend on one another.
Image via GIPHY by @nbclawandorder
Continuity stems from the organization of the content. With storyline organization, you have to watch things in order to understand what’s happening and what’s coming next. Otherwise, you end up confused, something marketers try to avoid for their audience. An example of this type of continuity is TV universes that intersect. Law & Order and the One Chicago universes do this particularly well among three shows, making it so if you want to follow the character development and interaction, you have to watch the full Wednesday or Thursday night circuit.
With hub content, you don’t have to read, watch, or view the content in a specific order. For example, if someone in your audience doesn’t learn about your content series until it’s already halfway over, they can jump in for your next piece with no issues. They don’t have to go back and “catch up” or “binge” to understand the next release.
The last point is something we talked about in both other categories: the idea of keeping people in suspense to come back for more information. That technique is more prevalent in episodic content than hub content. Because you’re building up continuity with episodes, you can end with cliffhangers or weave elements of the story through each piece that won’t make sense until you’ve gotten your audience to the final conversion point.
With hub content, you’re more likely to use previews rather than suspense to get people to come back for the next installment. For example, if you’re doing an SEO series, you may preview the next topic you intend to cover at the end of the current video to entice subscriptions or returns. But the current video always resolves. You don’t leave the audience wondering what’s going to happen next at the end of each segment.
Either hub or episodic content can work as a marketing tactic within your content strategy. Choosing one depends on what you’re planning to do with your pieces. If you’re trying to inform your audience, consider hub content. You can invite them back to your content without controlling how and when they visit. If you’re trying to lead your audience through a marketing or sales funnel, episodic content may be better. You can use suspense and continuity to pull people through in the exact order you want to get the desired conversion.
Whether you’re looking to create hub or episodic content or syndicate pieces you’ve already developed, start a call with us at CopyPress. We use these and other techniques to get your audience coming back to your pieces again and again.
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