Ozark, Breaking Bad, Succession, Ted Lasso, and Jack Ryan are just a few binge-worthy shows. I stay up watching episode after episode even though I know I’ll pay for it the next morning. They’re straight-up addictive.
The plot of each show is different, but they all share a common framework to pull you in and make it nearly impossible to turn off. I call it the Binge Loop.
The Binge Loop
- Open Loop
The Binge Loop ensures that we can’t help but roll from one episode into the next. Even if we know what they’re doing to us, we can’t break away. Let’s look a little deeper at the binge loop to see how each step works and what we can steal.
Step 1: Teaser
Every episode starts with a strong teaser (or hook) to pull you in and get you invested. The better the teaser, the more likely you are to stick around. Great teasers often start at the climax of the episode. They jump right to the hottest part of the episode and then allow the remainder of the hour to unravel what they’ve teased.
A cracked-out drug lord is holding a gun to Walter White’s head, is he going to get shot and die or find some way to weasel out of this crazy situation? The only way to find out is sit here for the next hour and watch the episode.
This is a no-brainer for the articles, posts, and videos you produce. Jump right to the action at the start. I opened by sharing The Binge Loop at the beginning of this article, but you have to read the remainder of the piece to understand each point. This is a strategy shared by the inverted pyramid method used in journalism.
Step 2: Problem
There’s no drama without a problem. From Seinfeld to Succession, each episode of every show in existence addresses some form of a problem. Ted Lasso is fantastic because they present wonderful problems.
There may be season-long storylines weaving through episodes and numerous concurrent problems being faced, but there’s always one primary issue being addressed in an episode. This focus gives our lizard brains something to latch onto for that hour.
This is a great correlation to content creation. While our overall content may solve multiple problems and address a few topics, it’s important to keep each individual piece focused on one specific issue.
Step 3: Resolution
Good or bad, there’s a resolution to the problem of that episode. Our brains crave a conclusion and the writers give it to us. It may not be the result we want, but there’s always an outcome to the one problem at hand.
This is something we should all do with our content. Make sure we provide the resolution someone reading or watching our content is seeking. Don’t leave them walking away feeling unfulfilled.
Step 4: Open Loop
My favorite of the four steps is right here. The open loop is why you find yourself watching five episodes in a row deep into the wee hours of the morning. As soon as the resolution happens for this episode, writers open another loop that leads into the teaser of the next episode. Damn you! I just need some sleep!
This bit of magic takes practice. I originally came across this concept from a guy named Andre Chaperon. He’s a brilliant email marketer with a knack for getting you to desire his next email. You can probably guess his strategy, the open loop. He piques your curiosity at the end of each email. The only way to satisfy that curiosity is to open his next email.
Create Your Own Binge Loop
Go look at all of your favorite shows. Take a second to think through each episode and you’ll see this structure everywhere. Seinfeld, Friends, Cheers, Mash, The Walking Dead, and any other show you want to name all use this approach.
Steal it for the content you produce. Treat each article, video, email, or post you share like an episode of your show in a long season. Hook folks with a teaser, present a problem, provide a clear resolution, and leave an open loop to bring them back for more if possible.
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