Content Lessons from Netflix and the Whedonverse

Content Lessons from Netflix and the Whedonverse

Joss Whedon Writes Things I Like

Discussion of the Whedonverse is a constant murmur in online forums and wherever thoughtful content consumers congregate. As the creator and writer of such geek empowerment icons as Buffy, Firefly, and Dr. Horrible (to name a few), Joss Whedon has achieved royalty/deity status among those in the know.

For those not in the know… Joss Whedon’s work is recognized as being character-driven and rich, with protagonists, antagonists, and supporting cast that support and tear down archetypes at the same time.

That being said, there are people walking around this very moment who haven’t ever seen Angel, appreciated the meta aspects of Cabin in the Woods, or seen his big-screen adaptation of…okay, everyone did see The Avengers.

What’s this got to do with anything?

There’s a direct parallel here between Whedon’s work and ours as content marketers. Have you ever written anything that you were particularly proud of, clicked “publish,” and waited?

…and waited?

…and waited for someone—anyone–to read it and to share it out to the world at large? We’ve all been there. And there’s probably a reserve of great work just sitting in your archives, begging to be read.

The takeaway here comes in the form of Netflix.

Netflix gives me the opportunity to share with my wife the exploits of Captain Mal & crew, and to introduce my kids to Buffy, Xander, Willow, & Giles. These shows have both been off the air for a decade now, but Netflix knows what I like to watch, and periodically reminds me that awesome things exist, giving me the chance to share.


Blog readership has a lot of turnover. People tend to come and go. You’ve got your dependable pillars, the folks that visit regularly, share your stuff, and interact on comments and social media, but the vast majority of folks that follow you will read regularly for a while and then crop off. That whole time, new people are coming for the first time, starting that cycle anew.

You already know what people are looking for when they come to your site/Facebook/Twitter/etc. So give it to them! Recommend old pieces regularly! It’s not really recycling when the content is still fresh and relevant.

Don’t punish your audience for showing up too late, or for not knowing until you were done talking about the cool stuff they were interested in. Give them every opportunity to stumble upon your oeuvre, and let them spread the word when they are lucky enough to find you.

Keep telling great stories and driving value with your content, and you can succeed on Netflix where the networks originally failed you.

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