What is a content franchise? A content franchise is a recurring series built around a theme, topic, story — or produced by a particular author or content creator. Content franchises sit in the upper-middle section of the brand hierarchy and they often have a unique branding and messaging style. A content marketing franchise is an ongoing resource that focuses on building a loyal audience over time.

Which show are you binge-watching right now? How much time have you invested in that show? Easy math… you just finished Season 3 and each season contains 10 one-hour episodes. That’s 30 hours of your time.

Like most humans, you have a ridiculously short attention span and little time to spare. Yet, you still make time to bond with your favorite content franchise.

Content franchises come in many different forms, and they are the fourth content level in the content marketing hierarchy. A content level is not a content strategy, but rather a degree of connectedness to your brand experience. Understanding how the entire content hierarchy works will help you prioritize your needs and scale your greater content vision.

If you’re just coming into our content hierarchy discussion, catch up by reading How to Define the 11 Content Levels of Your Brand Experience. Then learn about the first three content levels — core content (#1), vertical content (#2), content hub (#3) — which are linked just below.

  1. Core
  2. Vertical
  3. Hub
  4. Franchise
  5. Campaign
  6. Pillar
  7. Ladder
  8. Skyscraper
  9. Foundational
  10. Asset
  11. Element

A content marketing franchise helps you form a stronger bond between your brand and your audience. See why content franchises are worth considering and what you need to know for a successful franchise launch.

What is a content franchise?

What is a content franchise?

A content franchise is a recurring series built around a theme, topic, story — or produced by a particular author or content creator. Content franchises sit in the upper-middle section of the brand hierarchy and they often have a unique branding and messaging style. A content marketing franchise is an ongoing resource that focuses on building a loyal audience over time.

A content franchise was an editorial franchise back in the day. Think Carrie Bradshaw in ‘Sex & the City,’ which is based on author Candace Bushnell’s actual life as a sex columnist for the New York Times. The idea of a recurring column lives on in content franchises, which serve as never-ending campaigns for captivating audiences.

How franchises work to form strong bonds

Building an audience isn’t enough… you need to keep your audience coming back for more. And, don’t forget about your existing customers. Hate to break it to you, dear content marketer, but only 9% of U.S. consumers are brand loyal.

Why should your customers continue using your product or service? How can you nurture them beyond yesterday’s sales transaction, so they become loyal brand advocates forever?

Recurring content franchises form strong bonds, giving your audience valuable resources over a long period of time. With a content franchise, there is no one-and-done, a 3-part blog series, or instant gratification. It’s not unusual to see a content marketing franchise run for years, because the brand hit the nail on the head to carefully construct a bonding experience with their audience.

4 Questions to answer before launching a content franchise

Starting a content franchise is like getting into a long-term relationship. At first, you need to feel things out to make sure you’re compatible. The chemistry must be strong, and overall, the franchise should make you feel good inside.

If it doesn’t? Well, that content franchise isn’t “the one.” To help you start your content franchise on a confident note, here are several questions to answer with your team before launch.

1. How do you choose a content franchise topic?

Creativity is largely driven by emotional choices, but in this case, choose data to make an informed decision. Audit your content, spend quality time with Google Analytics and social analytics, and pinpoint your content superstars.

Other important considerations when narrowing down your content franchise topic? Referencing the higher content levels (#1-3) in the content marketing hierarchy.

  • Which core content themes are important?
  • Do you need to focus on specific content verticals?
  • How does your franchise add value to your content hub?

Don’t just rely on your internal content brain trust for content franchise ideation. If you’re already working with content creators outside your organization, ask them to pitch franchise ideas. Whoever pitches the most relevant and promising content franchise gets the franchise.

2. How do you name a content franchise?

Bad SEO happens to good content. Once you’ve narrowed down your topics, check out which keyword phrases are viable search terms when you’re naming your franchise.

For example, if you plan to launch a content franchise about “work productivity hacks,” call it “work hacks” since this phrase gets higher monthly search volume.

Bonus… this naming decision broadens the topic up so you’re not pigeonholed. Remember that your content franchise is a long-term commitment. If successful, you need years of topics. By going with the broader “work hacks” option for your content franchise, you have the freedom to write 99 DIY Paper Clip Animal Creations should you feel such a deep creative urge.

3. How do you decide on a cadence?

Weekly, monthly, bi-monthly? Deciding on a content franchise cadence depends on how much content you’re planning to produce and how you’ll get the most traction (without annoying the crap out of your audience).

Continually experiment with your cadence. Maybe you start with bi-monthly and increase to weekly. More isn’t always better though. You might find that your audience stays hooked when they enjoy your franchise twice per month, but they get bored when they have it all the time on a weekly basis.

4. How do you know which content types are best?

Well, that depends on two things — your audience and your resources. Going back to question #1 from moments ago, take a look at various content types you have tackled and which performed optimally. Once you’ve selected winning content types, build a team around the needs of your franchise, outsourcing content creators as you see fit.

You also don’t need to stick with just one type of content in your franchise. Assuming you have the resources to pull it off, a multimedia approach with maybe a blog and a corresponding how-to video or SlideShare might be the best way to hold your audience’s attention long-term.

2 Branded examples of content franchises

Your content marketing franchise can be almost any content medium you choose — weekly newsletters, influencer interviews, sponsored podcasts, guest webinars, episodic videos, news round-ups… the list goes on and on.

Let’s not get too overwhelmed by a sea of possibilities and simply look at tried-and-true branded examples by our friends here at ClearVoice and a little brand called LinkedIn.

1. Content Radar by ClearVoice

Personally, I’ve been following Content Radar on ClearVoice since it started back in 2017. You read that right. This popular content franchise by Chad Buleen has been running for years and I’ve been following it for years.

Content Radar is always thoughtful, useful, and easy to digest. Every “binge-worthy episode” gives you quick, actionable news and insights to help you improve your content marketing tactics and strategies. Somehow Chad manages to deliver an aha moment in every article.

2. The Sophisticated Marketer’s Hub by LinkedIn

Here’s an example of a content franchise and a content hub coming together as a powerful unit. LinkedIn Marketing Solutions created a resource hub for marketers called The Sophisticated Marketer, which has been going strong since 2014.

To find a topic of ongoing relevance, they did research and learned their audience craved information on how to do LinkedIn marketing well.

And, guess what? Other brands were creating useful resources, but LinkedIn Marketing Solutions was not participating in that conversation. Whoopsie. They fixed that oversight with a rock-solid content franchise that includes a learning course, guides, and webinars for LinkedIn marketers.

You’re not competing to win sales, you’re competing to win attention. People don’t want to be sold to, they want to be inspired and entertained. So, form a special bond with your audience by creating a content franchise they can’t get enough of.