People have always been interested in learning about the behind-the-scenes world of film and television. When DVDs first emerged, for example, a key appeal of the format to many people was the fact that they presented audiences with easy access to director's commentaries, "making of" documentaries, and countless other features centred around giving audiences a peek behind the curtain.
The tools and platforms available today have made it easier than ever to bridge the gap that exists between creators and their audiences; and, if the age of content marketing is all about brands being their own publishers, then what benefits can they gain from letting audiences glimpse behind-the-scenes?
"What we strive for is that you don't notice the edit, you don't notice how the story is being told ... Mostly, when you do the job well, the audience is totally in the moment and totally in the story, and never notices your work at all."
Editor Billy Fox’s observations on the 'invisibility' of his particular craft can be also identified in a great many of the processes that go into content production. One of the key benefits, then, of behind-the-scenes content is the simple fact that it gives you an opportunity to shine a light on all of the ambition, effort, and hard work that may otherwise go unnoticed.
One of the examples that most impressed me recently was a short promotional video for the US dark comedy series Kidding, presenting a scene in which years of a character's life are condensed into a single-shot sequence alongside BTS footage that shows the staggeringly elaborate choreography that went into making under two minutes of television.
As well as being an excellent piece of promotion for the series; the way in which this demystifies some of television's invisible processes is also beneficial in a number of other ways. For businesses in particular, this kind of behind-the-scenes content can be a really effective way of demonstrating the planning and consideration that goes into the end product, and in the process, providing justification for the costs involved.
I've recently started listening to the Song Exploder podcast. Each episode of this podcast focuses on one specific song, and features the musicians behind it dissecting and talking about some of the individual sounds that make up the completed track.
While, on paper, this premise may sound quite dry and technical; that couldn't be further from the truth in practice. The musicians who feature on the podcast take the opportunity to use these detached sounds as a springboard for talking about what inspired and interested them during the recording process, in a way that can often echo the emotional connection that listeners themselves may have with these songs. As The Financial Times' Fiona Sturges writes in her review of Song Exploder:
"While its guests, who have invluded Solange Knowles, Iggy Pop, Björk and U2, are more than happy to go into the minutiae of their 'process', these details also tend to shed light on their characters and there is always the sense of a broader narrative ... For a show whose primary focus is the business of dismantling songs, it offers an unexpectedly rounded portrait of the artist."
Producing content that highlights the personality behind your brand is an excellent way to not only reveal your own feelings and inspirations, but also to endear yourself to your prospects.
In his book Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, Robert Cialdini writes about the way in which our feelings about a person come into play when deciding whether to do business with them. Expressing shared tastes and interests in common with prospects, for example, is a proven way in which expressing your own personality and character can have a really positive impact on how you do business with them.
Finally, content marketing is all about stories; and, as the previous examples have shown, the process of creating any piece of content will present you with an array of unique stories to tell.
Part of Google Street View's content marketing strategy has been about shining a light on the experiences and insights of the people who collect the images used for their service. Considering that these are people whose job involves travelling and documenting locations all over the world, it goes without saying that they have interesting and engaging stories to tell about what they do.
One of the most interesting of these is their short documentary Mapping Tonga, which follows Tania Wolfgramm and Wikuki Kingi's ambitious efforts to document the South Pacific nation of Tonga (comprising a number of islands, many of them uninhabited) on Street View.
A piece like this not only tells an interesting story, but also presents viewers with a new and different perspective on the technology itself in moments such as when Kingi explains:
"...What we saw with Street View is an ability for people [who have left here] to connect with their homeland. There's also the ability for the global audience to look at stories about our identity."
Talking about how you do what you do offers up a number of potential benefits: not only as a way of more openly displaying and sharing your skills and processes, but also as a way of appealing to your audience on an authentic, engaging, and human level.