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Few people would raise an eyebrow if you were to refer to Blue Planet II as a television masterpiece. Even if you’re not a big fan of documentaries, or couldn’t care less about the daily struggles of the tusk fish, it’s all but impossible not to be awed by the scale and quality of the production.
Estimates suggest as many as 17 million people have seen episode one – first broadcast on Sunday 29 October – so it’s hardly surprising that it’s 2017’s most-watched TV show.
And, while it’s worth checking out Blue Planet simply to hear the soothing tones of the iconic David Attenborough, and to take a peek at an alien world so different from our own, it also provides a number of learning opportunities for content creators, regardless of industry or business type.
Showcase your expertise
Over the years, we’ve had numerous people approach us to ask what they should write about in their blog. They nearly always have grand ambitions; they want to do something original and eye-catching, and they want to garner a reputation as someone who is progressive and forward-thinking. To these people – and to anyone else who is planning their content – we always offer the same advice; write about what you know.
One of the reasons people tune into Blue Planet is because it is regarded as the pinnacle of documentary making. Its people are experts in their respective fields, meaning they are able to capture footage at the ideal time, in the perfect location, and with the best equipment money can buy. By putting faith in experts, and allowing them to do what they do best, Blue Planet can deliver bespoke material in a way that keeps the audience gripped.
Whatever your business, you must make a point of telling people why they should trust you, how you can help them, and what benefits they will gain from your offering. By positioning yourself as an expert, you will attract consumers and accrue credibility.
Focus on quality, not quantity
The filming of Blue Planet II took place over the course of four years, though the planning and research took far longer. The series involved over 125 separate expeditions across 39 countries, and produced around 6,000 hours of underwater footage from approximately 4,000 individual dives. All of that to create a series of seven hour-long episodes. If that’s not dedication to quality over quantity, I don’t know what is.
Of course, when creating content, it’s not always necessary to spend the best part of a decade honing and refining it. However, if something is worth doing, it’s worth doing well. There’s no point rushing out a blog post just for the sake of it. Figure out what you want to say, how best to say it, and publish something you can feel proud of.
Offer up added value
At the end of every Blue Planet episode, the audience is afforded a glimpse behind the scenes to see the work that goes into making such a pioneering show. These short films – they never last longer than 10 minutes – put the viewer in the shoes of the crew, and give an insight into what it takes to make such a televisual spectacle.
When marvelling at the ingenuity of the common octopus, or gawping at the utter ferocity of the elephant seal, it can be very easy to forget the people that have made such viewing experiences possible. These mini-documentaries bring a human element to the show, and highlight the idea that while the stars of the programme – the animals themselves – are imaginative and resourceful, so are the humans that have made the show feasible.
Footage revealing how creatures have evolved to thrive in their surroundings is the culmination of hundreds of hours of patient work. They are captured in high definition by utilising technology and equipment that is, quite frankly, as foreign to most of us as the creatures they have been developed to film. Showcasing the efforts of the people that brought the content to life adds another string to Blue Planet’s bow.
You should always be looking to give your audience more than they expect. By giving people added value, you will be going a long way to making your business more attractive when compared to your competitors.
Enthusiasm and dedication reaps rewards
If there’s one thing Blue Planet II does better than any other show, it’s giving experts the chance to take centre stage. From cameramen to scriptwriters, editors to sound technicians, everyone who works on Blue Planet is allowed to shine. The show attracts the best people in the world, and that’s largely because they absolutely love what they do, they know their efforts will be appreciated, and they are part of something bigger than themselves.
If you are passionate about what you do, tell people about it. If you get excited about a development, story or innovation that relates to your business, use your content to get other people just as pumped up as you are.
Keep the audience coming back
Fans of Blue Planet II are already clamouring for more. They can’t get enough of life below the sea, and are desperate to continue exploring life in the depths. BBC is only too aware of this, and is doing a great job of keeping people interested.
Throughout the week, BBC’s social media channels circulate extracts from episodes – both upcoming and already released – to whet the viewer’s appetite. These clips are then shared, retweeted, and subsequently distributed across the globe. Not only does this retain the interest of invested viewers, but it entices new ones.
BBC has also recently announced that Blue Planet II will ‘become the first first TV series to be made available in 4K resolution and high dynamic range (HDR) colour via its iPlayer catch-up service’. This is another example of the show giving viewers added value, and will no doubt encourage millions of people to commit to repeat viewing.
When producing content, you should be doing all in your power to get your audience to return. Tempt them by dropping in ideas for the future, ask them to subscribe to a newsletter, or get them to follow your social media channels.
If you’ve covered all of the steps listed within this article – showcased your expertise, focused on quality and offered added value – then your audience will be far more likely to want to digest everything you produce going forward.
Now that you’ve finished reading this, you have my permission to go back and re-watch Blue Planet II, safe in the knowledge that it’s helping you to become a better content creator. That’s what you can tell your boss, anyway.
This article originally appeared in Southerly.