Marketing & Advertising

Content Marketing Lessons from ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’

The most recent Star Wars film can teach content marketers a lesson or two about how to make content successful, including reusing good material, answering and encouraging questions, and making content easy and fun to share.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens is the seventh major film in the Star Wars movie franchise. In the United States, the movie dominated the box office, earning more than $325 million in just five days (a record) and selling more than $37.3 million worth of tickets on a Tuesday, which is normally a slow day for American movie theaters.

While there is a lot that could be written about this popular film and its plot, what follows are four lessons that content marketers can draw from this latest space opera.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens may have something to teach marketers about what makes content successful.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens can teach marketers about what makes content successful.

Reuse Content

Just a few minutes into Star Wars: The Force Awakens, fans familiar with the franchise’s previous films may have started to get a real sense of déja vu. Episode VII’s plot is similar — even stunningly so — to the original Star Wars film released in 1977. Here are a few examples (warning: spoilers included).

  • A lowly character on a desert plant is strong with the force — as Todd VanDerWerff put it on Vox, “Rey is basically Luke Skywalker all over again.”
  • An important message is stored in a droid — R2D2 and BB8.
  • The evil empire or First Order is looking for the important message.
  • A force-wielding villain wears a helmet, Kylo Ren as Darth Vader.
  • Helmeted bad guy has shadowy and mysterious master.
  • The bad guys build a planet-destroying weapon. The Starkiller Base is like the Death Star on steroids.
  • The good guys and gals attack the aforementioned weapon.
  • The protagonist’s father figure is killed. Here Han Solo equals Obi-Wan Kenobi.
As an example of a plot similarity, Kylo Ren is a lot like Darth Vader.

As an example of a plot similarity, Kylo Ren is a lot like Darth Vader.

In spite of this, moviegoers adored the film. Star Wars: The Force Awakens had an 8.7 out of ten rating at the Internet Movie Database (IMDB) and 95-percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes, the movie review and rating site, at the time of writing.

The lesson to content marketers is simple: It is acceptable to reuse content. A previous blog post might make a good script for next week’s YouTube video. A how-to article that was so popular in June might be a good source for an infographic next spring. Don’t be afraid to reuse content when you can.

Do Your Best to Answer Questions

In the months, weeks, and days leading up to The Force Awakens’ December 18, 2015 release, fans had a lot of questions about how the characters’ would interact. Had long-time hero Luke Skywalker turned to the dark side? Was that the reason Luke was not shown in the trailer or on the movie poster? What role would Han Solo play in fighting the First Order (empire reborn)? Was Finn really a storm trooper?

While it could be argued that it was the Star Wars marketing team that generated these questions in the first place, it is fair to say that The Force Awakens answered these questions and many more.

It turned out that Finn really was a storm trooper.

It turned out that Finn really was a storm trooper.

In a similar way, content marketers should seek to answer questions for readers or viewers. Often this means creating how-to content that helps your audience accomplish some task or make a more informed decision.

Engage Your Audience

While Star Wars: The Force Awakens answered some questions, it also sparked dozens of new questions. In fact, science fiction fan site io9 published a list of “33 Questions We Desperately Want Answered After Star Wars: The Force Awakens.”

Among io9’s top concerns are these.

  • Who are Rey’s parents?
  • What is Rey’s background?
  • Why does Luke’s saber call to Rey?
  • Why did Ben Solo become Kylo Ren?
  • What’s up with Supreme Leader Snoke?
  • Who is Finn?

The film engaged viewers. When you watch the movie you want to know more about its characters. How did they come to be in this situation? What experiences do they bring to the story?

Rey is likely the protagonist of forthcoming movies, so there are lots of questions about her.

Rey is likely the protagonist of forthcoming movies, so there are lots of questions about her.

Content marketers should seek to engage too. Even a post about a do-it-yourself project or how to pick out presents for your mother-in-law can engage and encourage the reader or viewer to go deeper and seek more information.

Try to produce content that keeps your audience coming back for more.

Encourage Folks to Share Your Content

Almost a week after Star Wars: The Force Awakens was released, the film was still a hot topic of discussion. Reviews and commentaries analyzed the film’s plot, characters, cinematography, special effects, and so on. Co-workers, friends, and family members debated the movie too, sharing posts, tweets, and messages across the Internet.

While it is unlikely that any content a small business produces will get the attention this movie has, it does make sense to try to create content that your audience will want to talk about and share.

When the content you make and distribute is helpful, when it is easy to understand and explain, and when it is easy to share, your audience will link to it, post about it, and talk about it. Your readers and viewers will also become your promoters.

Armando Roggio
Armando Roggio
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