STORY + AUDIENCE with Jill Golick & Annelise Larson

Episode 107: Your Fandom & the Power of Data

May 26, 2020 Jill Golick & Annelise Larson Season 1 Episode 7
STORY + AUDIENCE with Jill Golick & Annelise Larson
Episode 107: Your Fandom & the Power of Data
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STORY + AUDIENCE with Jill Golick & Annelise Larson
Episode 107: Your Fandom & the Power of Data
May 26, 2020 Season 1 Episode 7
Jill Golick & Annelise Larson

In this second last episode of the first season, screenwriter Jill Golick and digital strategist Annelise Larson look at the "care & feeding" of the audience (and the storyteller) through the power of data. For this week's homework, Jill and the listeners will dig into the analytics of their website and social media to figure out what is working and what is not and stopping the latter.

Mentioned in this episode:

Find more about Jill at http://jillgolick.com/
And more about Annelise at https://veria.ca/

Or reach us both at STORYplusAUDIENCE@gmail.com
 
Please rate, share, like, follow & subscribe and send us your thoughts & questions about STORY+AUDIENCE to be addressed in our final episode of the season!

Show Notes Transcript

In this second last episode of the first season, screenwriter Jill Golick and digital strategist Annelise Larson look at the "care & feeding" of the audience (and the storyteller) through the power of data. For this week's homework, Jill and the listeners will dig into the analytics of their website and social media to figure out what is working and what is not and stopping the latter.

Mentioned in this episode:

Find more about Jill at http://jillgolick.com/
And more about Annelise at https://veria.ca/

Or reach us both at STORYplusAUDIENCE@gmail.com
 
Please rate, share, like, follow & subscribe and send us your thoughts & questions about STORY+AUDIENCE to be addressed in our final episode of the season!

Jill Golick :

Welcome to story plus audience, a podcast about creating stories that connect deeply with audiences.

Annelise Larson :

And using that connection to build a long term career as a storyteller.

Jill Golick :

I'm Jill Golick. I'm a screenwriter and digital creator.

Annelise Larson :

I'm Annelise Larson. I work in digital marketing and strategy for media. So as this is our second last episode, we've hopefully given you all kinds of great advice to find your audience to attract your audience to help them discover you. Now we want to walk you through once you have them. How do you use this STORY+AUDIENCE approach to actually build your own fandom? We even touched on what fandoms are previously, but this time, let's talk about YOUR fandom. So Jill, do you have any examples of of the things that you've responded to?

Jill Golick :

On the not fictional side, there's a very popular YouTuber named Philip DeFranco. If you watch, he's wearing a T shirt with a phone number on it, and you can text him every day. And he spends a certain amount of the day texting with his fans. So like that's so super cool to be able to get so close to someone who you admire.

Annelise Larson :

And I think it's also really important to realize that when you are really good storyteller, people are going to want more story. My husband and I had watched all of The Good Place the show about the afterlife, with Ted Danson and Kristen Bell of Veronica Mars. It was this weird, wonderful, nuanced discussion of philosophy and ethics and really what it means to be human that came to a very satisfying conclusion. And then I discovered that there was a podcast that one of the actors ran. So now I completely want to go back. And I don't tend to at this point in my life rewatch things very often, but I am itching to go back, rewatch all of The Good Place. But alternating watching an episode and then listening to the related podcast episode. I didn't know at the beginning what it was going to become. I will get so much more joy and pleasure from going back to the beginning and rewatching it all with this additional layer of understanding.

Jill Golick :

Similarly, there's a serial series called The West Wing that ended many, many years ago. In the last couple of years Josh Molina, who was one of the actors, started a podcast. He watches every single episode and talks about it, brings other cast members and other crew members in to discuss each episode. So if you have a really good fan base, the show remains relevant and there's still discussion around it.

Annelise Larson :

Yeah, I often will talk about the care and feeding of an audience. It's really important to have that as a mechanism in mind as you're trying to build out this STORY+AUDIENCE approach, which is very strategic, which is very audience-led. And really bringing to it an understanding of what is going to be satisfying for them what's going to surprise them, but like, in a good way, and I think that there's a real balance and responsibility in how you care for a fandom, you know, yes, if you've done a good story, sure, it can happen on its own, but it will take on a life without you if you don't create space for it. Even stories that have ended in a satisfying way. Buffy the Vampire Slayer was one that had a pretty satisfying ending, but Joss Whedon, the creator then created this whole series of beautiful graphic novels that kept the story going. It's interesting in understanding that sometimes when you have grown a fandom, even if the media property is over, both through the rewatch ability of it like I want to do with The Good Place. Or to give more story in these other ways. And I think it is ultimately about connection and community. That you're giving your audience, your fans opportunities to connect with the characters, like in the case of some where the characters have social media accounts. With each other, like creating spaces for them to connect with each other and froth. Giving them opportunities to connect with the creators. Opportunities to contribute, yes, creatively, but even financially. I mean, there's an amazing recent story where there was a role playing web series and podcast with this group of voice actors who got together and played D&D. And they ended up launching a crowdfunding campaign to make an animated series about their first campaign. I think their goal was to raise $750,000 and they ended up raising over $11 million. Opportunities to share. We talked a lot about that last time, that social sharing is so important for discoverability.

Jill Golick :

One of the things I'm thinking, as you're listing all these things is, oh my god, I'm so tired. I just poured my heart and soul onto the page writing this thing. And it comes out and people want more. And my first love is writing. And now I'm talking to people, even if it's only on the internet and figuring out ways for them to do things, and I'm worried about my energy. I know though, that interacting with fans and people who love the material can actually be energizing, can bring the enthusiasm back. I know that by the time you reach the place where fans are participating in what you've made, you're quite a bit further along the road and there are other people on the team. It's not just you whose creating it all but I think the idea of being really strategic and building things for the fans to do might be really helpful getting them to create things for you. Like deputizing people to manage conversations. Is there a way to do that?

Annelise Larson :

Definitely, you can kind of invite those super fans into sort of an inner circle. There's a friend of mine who has been do ing this for a long time. He runs like a space news, it started out just as a website. Now, it's an ecosystem. It's a web series. It's podcasts. You know, it is the website with the news articles. And it used to be just him. He's been very strategic and very smart about onboarding people who he was having interactions with on social media. They became other writers and researchers on the project. It was an ad financed project. At the beginning, he sold ads. he launched a micropatronage account on Patreon and all of the people that contribute and subscribe to his brand, which is Universe Today, have become executive producers and they take over the management and producing of this web series and podcast where they find the guests. And he just gets to show up at the allotted time and place and have great conversations with fascinating people. Because they love what he does so much. And he's been so smart. And he's really paid attention to his data to understand what it is that his fans get the most excited about, and leaned into that and follow that audience where they lead. And so actually, it became less work for him.

Jill Golick :

Huh. So are you going to tell me about that data?

Annelise Larson :

It's all about getting smarter, being more strategic. And obviously the more we do these things, this care and feeding of audience. You're right, as you get money attached to it, you're going to get a team, but the reality is you want fans who are going to follow you from project to project. There's things that you can look at, I think, to motivate yourself to understand the value of it. I think I said this the very, very beginning: when you're developing a story and bring an audience with it, it's the best way to protect that story as more money gets involved. Because you can demonstrate that there's an active and interested audience and that you understand them really well. And the, one of the ways you can do that and demonstrate it in a very tangible way that investors will respect is through your data. So I want people to understand that the data that you generate around what you're doing online and your interaction, so on your website, on your social media accounts, that that data is just another way for the audience to speak to you. They're telling you things maybe not overtly, but every time they're making a choice about which piece of content, which character, whatever the conversation is, and you can see where you're getting traction, all of those become really, really important clues to get more and more efficient at doing this care and feeding of audience. Because you can stop doing the stuff that's not working and concentrate more on the stuff that is working. And probably with more practice, you get faster at doing that stuff. It's development, you're developing an audience, and you need to take the time to do the drafts of audience to learn about them, to refine it, to get better. But hopefully over time, the more and more you do this, the easier it gets, it doesn't become such a burden. And that hopefully, you'll get excited because you'll see that people are really responding to say, a podcast episode that you put out. So that would be the homework this week. Look at your Google Analytics on your website, look at Facebook or Twitter or Instagram or Pinterest. Like all of those platforms pretty much have some kind of analytics program on the back end that you as the owner of that profile can get access to. That you can get a lot smarter and strategic if you pay attention to what that data is telling you.

Jill Golick :

You're making me think when you post something on whatever social media site is, and you start seeing those likes. It's very, very addictive, right. And I actually, I have all my notifications on everything turned off because I find it quite distracting to have that feedback all the time. But it might be interesting to turn on notifications for this period because they are the first level of analytics. You know, we talked about using keywords in our last episode and language to kind of select some content for sharing and now to take the analytics and match them up with that. If I was a very organized person, I think I might start a spreadsheet for a bit.

Annelise Larson :

An spreadsheets, be still my heart.

Jill Golick :

And so you can sort of test it. And the best thing you just said was, if it's not getting any traction, dump that one and move on. An example from my life today in captivity, right at the beginning of the kind of lockdown, social isolation phenomenon, I wrote a step by step guide to writing your pilot script while practicing social distancing. It's called the Pandemic Pilot Program. It's on my website. It's a free download. And I put a little thing on there that said, "If you think you might be interested in taking a workshop with me, put your email address here." And three days later, or one day later, whatever it was that were 75 names there. And I went, "Oh, so okay, I'll do this." And now seven weeks into the pandemic there are 340 people, I think, at the moment on my email list. And I did a livestream and then three workshops. And it's so interesting when I send an email to my list and then I'll just watch as people start to register. And I'm like, that's a really interesting feedback loop. This is what you're talking about.

Annelise Larson :

What you've also described is a process of experimentation. So you're not just doing it just to do it, you're doing it to see if people will respond. And when they do respond, that incentivizes you to do more. You're actually being very conscious of making choices about what you're putting out there. And then paying attention to what the response is. If you didn't get anyone signing up, you probably wouldn't have done the workshop series. Right?

Jill Golick :

Right.

Annelise Larson :

Just being really conscious and thoughtful about the things that you're trying. Spreadsheet sounds like a great idea. Because then you can say, "Well, I did this and this was the result." I often will create spreadsheets that will take these data snapshots at regular intervals. But just doing these little sort of touch bases and checking in and being able to see the trends over time, being able to see where the growth happened where it fell off. You know something, if you're driving a lot of traffic to your website, another thing that you can do in Google Analytics is actually do little annotations. So Jill, you could say, on April the 20th, you put a little annotation, I sent out this email as a call for submissions to x. You could do that right in your Google Analytics. And you can see whether it spikes or not, so that it's a very visual quick and easy way to notice what's working, what's not. And yes, trusting our guts, but also like having the data to back it up. Because I think we often will get into the trap of making certain assumptions, or we fallen in love with a certain strategy. And so you don't want to know that it's not working because you're having so much fun on your own. And that's fine. That can be a worthwhile creative exercise on its own. But if you're actually interested in methodically and strategically learning and growing an audience, that is something that you are going to need to pay your own attention to those kinds of things. And that you will have to actually do less to get more because you're going to be get smarter and smarter about what the audience you are building is appreciating about you and your work.

Jill Golick :

Ultimately, what you want to take those numbers, those analytics to do, is to go to people who have money, who will then help finance you creating more content for that audience.

Annelise Larson :

Yeah, and it's great if you own it, right, that you're not saying having to start a different social media footprint for every project, especially a one off like a film. Like if you're doing something that is a series that rolls out over time, then yeah, it's worthwhile having its own footprint. But even if you are doing that, and there's a team attached to that footprint, you as a writer to own some part of that because then you can speak intelligently on funding applications about what you have been able to accomplish to date and where you know, you can take this project because of what you've done. It basically becomes part of your credibility as a worthwhile investment. The data also, because you're going to learn more about them, right? This is them telling you things about themselves collectively of what it is they like. And in some ways, that is another way that you can maybe use it to even shape your creative because you're going to see what they get excited about.

Jill Golick :

That's very interesting. Okay, so we, we have our homework, it's to look at the analytics, and to use them to experiment to find that what interests people.

Annelise Larson :

And find those patterns. Checking in with that analytics over time patterns are going to start to emerge and you're gonna see, oh, when I just post like, this is really simple. But when I just post text, I don't get much response. But when I post like a funny image, or I post something on techie hashtag, I get a lot more uptake and a lot more engagement. Those patterns over time are really important. And I bet that the more attention you pay to your audience and its data, the better your story is going to be and the more viable your creative career is going to be.

Jill Golick :

Okay. And there will be a career.

Annelise Larson :

Yeah. Yeah. This is this is my fervent attempt to get writers excited about data.

Jill Golick :

Well, but I think, you know, I mean, I go back to I was on a panel discussion earlier this year, and there was a guy from from the publishing industry there. And he was saying that when he tries to sell a book to a publisher, the first thing the publisher asked him is how big is this writer's mailing list? He doesn't even want to know about their Twitter followers. He wants to know how many people they have on their email list and do they send them emails regularly? Because the publisher wants proof there's an engaged audience there. And I think anybody who's a green lighter for you as a writer is interested in what you can pull in with an audience.

Annelise Larson :

So are you excited?

Jill Golick :

I'm excited.

Annelise Larson :

Good. All right, well, let's take that excitement into the rest of your day today then.

Jill Golick :

And I think the other thing is that we're here really asking our audience to feed into our show quitesignificantly. Next week, we'll be recording our last episode of season. We'd love to have your input, your feedback, so please email us at storyplusaudience@gmail.com or tweet us or message us or reach us in any way. You know how because we'd love to hear from you about what you've heard these last seven weeks, including this week.

Annelise Larson :

Yeah, so I think that wraps it up for today. So please subscribe, rate and share wherever you're listening to this podcast and living online

Jill Golick :

And if you want to reach Annelise or know more about her check out veria.ca.

Annelise Larson :

And you can check out Jill at JillGolick.com.

Jill Golick :

And if you want to reach both of us, as I've said, Our email address is story plus audience@gmail.com. I'm Jill Golick.

Annelise Larson :

And I'm Annelise Larson. Thanks for listening. Now go listen to your audience...and their data. Transcribed by https://otter.ai