This guest post is by Marjorie Clayman of Clayman Advertising.
There are a lot of things that shows like Friends didn’t warn teens and twenty-somethings about. For example, you seldom saw, on any episode, scenes where the characters’ bodies randomly decided to become overweight or broken down. Monica and Chandler never said, “Yippee! A Saturday! More time to do work!” They certainly didn’t hint that sitting down to watch The Muppet Show for nostalgia’s sake would inspire a blog post. Life is full of surprises!
A lot of people, just like me, have been revisiting the original Muppet Show, which is available on DVD now. What is most interesting about checking back with Kermit, Miss Piggy, Fozzie, and the rest of the muppets is that you discover that the show has an entirely new but equally brilliant meaning when you watch it as an adult. Somehow, Jim Henson was able to create a show that works as well for toddlers as it does for adults.
This kind of nuanced, multi-level storytelling can also convert a good blog into a great one. Here are some ideas on how to blog Muppet Show-style.
Begin on the surface
How did The Muppet Show work for kids? Well, as a kid, how could you not fall in love with the-ultra cute Fozzie Bear and Rowlf the dog? How could you not admire Kermit’s tiny flailing arms and Miss Piggy’s penchant for punching everyone out?
As a blogger, cuteness will probably not work for you unless your target audience is kids. However, what you can concentrate on is the group of people who pass by your blog by chance. They don’t know you, they aren’t connected with you on Twitter or Facebook, but they end up at your blog anyway. How can you entice these people to stick around? You could try:
- using a conversational tone so that they feel welcome right away
- using strong images that help emphasize key points in your blogs
- using a highly legible font and enough spacing so that your blog is easy to read.
Just as adults are not turned off by the cuteness of the muppets (I still melt when I see Kermit’s nephew Robin), your regular readers will not be turned away by efforts like these.
Be conscious of your audience
One of the most masterful aspects of The Muppet Show is that Henson and his team were able to write jokes that were horrible, and then they made fun of their own jokes in their script. The horrible jokes probably are hilarious to kids, and adults appreciate the fact that the writers aren’t huffing and puffing as if they’re sending out the best comedy sketches ever.
When writing a blog, the challenge is not entertaining kids and adults; rather, it is making sure that people familiar and unfamiliar with your subject matter find your blog valuable. How can you accomplish this goal?
- Use your blog to spark conversation rather than using your blog as a soapbox.
- Write so that you can invite knowledgeable readers to participate while educating readers unfamiliar with your topic.
- Invite comments and questions at the end of your post so that everyone feels welcome to contribute to the conversation.
Create variations on a theme
You’ll see a lot of advice about how to pick the mission of your blog. There is no doubt that this is essential. However, you also need to be able to venture into new ways of bringing those objectives into reality while maintaining your readership.
The Muppet Show accomplished this primarily through the guests that they brought on every week. You’d be hard-pressed to find two people more dissimilar than Alice Cooper and Raquel Welch, but both were guests on the show. In both episodes, the show maintained its core integrity—The Muppet Show was still The Muppet Show. How did Henson do that? The infrastructure of the show didn’t change. The main characters didn’t change. Only the details were altered.
How can you do this on your blog?
- Invite people to guest-post on your site.
- Stretch the range of topics you write about.
- If you gravitate towards list posts, try a story instead.
What stays the same is your tonality, your promise of quality, and your voice. But like The Muppet Show, the details can vary.
What do you think?
What other lessons can you learn from watching The Muppet Show? How else can you bring that nuanced storytelling to your blog? I’d love to talk about it with you in the comments.
Marjorie Clayman is Director of Client Development at Clayman Advertising, a full service marketing communications firm located in Akron, OH.