Patrick Stewart as Jean-Luc Picard: What His ‘Star Trek’ Return Teaches About Content Rebuilding

Sir Patrick Stewart is coming back to the world of Star Trek as Jean-Luc Picard!

When the news of the British actor returning to the small-screen universe of space travel and intergalactic adventures as the iconic Captain Picard first broke, it was not surprising when social media exploded with a flood of tweets and posts from longtime Trekkies and fans of one of Stewart’s most memorable roles.

The Surprising Return of Jean-Luc Picard

The award-winning actor has undoubtedly played a growing number of characters on the small screen, big screen and theatrical stage throughout his career that nearly spans 60 years. However, perhaps the most memorable role that longtime fans of Patrick Stewart’s work will always remember was the time that he spent on the hit TV series Star Trek: The Next Generation as Jean-Luc Picard. – the top-ranking captain of the U.S.S. Enterprise starship. Stewart played the commanding officer of the starship’s crew, which was filled with such iconic characters as William Riker, Geordi La Forge, Tasha Yar, Worf the Klingon, Deanna Troi and the lovable yet unable-to-love Data.

A flood of nostalgia likely emerged within the minds of longtime Star Trek fans after the news of Picard’s return to small screen was first confirmed earlier this month. Perhaps you too reflected on the amazing speeches, sharp wit and other captivating qualities of Captain Jean-Luc Picard that allowed Patrick Stewart to breathe life into this character for 7 seasons and more than 170 episodes. Since his time on the Enterprise came to an end in 1997, many assumed that Stewart would never utter the words “Make it so, Number One!” as Captain Picard again.

That was, of course, until CBS wiped away those doubts and uncertainties with an announcement last Saturday at a Star Trek Convention. According to the crowd-pleasing report, a brand-new Star Trek series will join the hit CBS series Star Trek: Discovery within the network’s All-Access streaming service. Further reports confirm that Picard will take the center stage in this new series with Patrick Stewart returning to this iconic role – a reprisal that the longtime actor admitted on Twitter that he did not even see coming.

 

Image: Denis Makarenko via Bigstock

Whether you are excited about this new development in the televised Star Trek universe means very little when you consider the big picture. As content creators and marketers, the highly-anticipated return of Sir Patrick Stewart to such an iconic role teaches several key takeaways lessons about content development, reconstruction, and engagement that even non-Trekkies can appreciate and apply.

Quality of the Past Can Lead to Quality in the Future

If the story of Captain Picard was poorly developed in the 1980s and 1990s, would it be practical to bring the character back into the limelight more than 20 years after his initial exit? Of course not! Many nostalgic network executives are now faced to learn the hard way that age does not always reflect value.

There are certain television series from the 1980 sand 1990s that are viewed as valuable antiques today – antiques that could be restored and rebooted successfully. However, there were other shows with poorly developed content and character that should just stay in the past since most fans (and even the cast and crew that worked on them) would prefer to forget rather than get involved again.

This explains why developing high-quality evergreen content is the best way to secure lasting traffic. Complementing your posts with the occasional short-term trend or hot topic is an effective way to add icing to the content cake that you have already baked. However, it is imperative to remember that icing tastes the very best and satisfies the most when it accentuates a high-quality cake.

Most fans would agree that Star Trek: The Next Generation was a deliciously made cake. Picard’s character was developed a tasty slice of that cake – layered, baked to perfection and pleasing to the palate of TV lovers and moviegoers alike. You may never have plans to revisit and breathe new life into your old content. However, that should never stop you from making sure that every post reflects lasting quality, structure and development that can withstand the tests of time successfully.

Captivate Your Target Audience as a Top Priority

Did you notice how the announcement of Captain Jean-Luc Picard’s return was made? It is easy to overlook the facts behind the headline just because seeing “Patrick Stewart” and “Jean-Luc Picard” in the same headline again is truly riveting! However, a lesson in catering to your target audience can be learned by paying attention to how the news was delivered.

With the increasing popularity of social media and other online networking platforms, there is an extensive list of ways that CBS could let the intergalactic cat out of the bag:

  • YouTube: A fancy video with archived footage of Picard along with a banner message that he will return in a new CBS series
  • Twitter: A tweet about Patrick Stewart coming back to the Star Trek universe as Captain Picard perhaps accentuated by a hashtag (#PicardReturns) with the hope of going viral
  • Facebook: A simple Facebook post announcement would have sufficed. Patrick Stewart could have reached out to his 1.3 million Facebook fans with a single post and shared the news with the rest of the world.

If you notice, the above-referenced methods were eventually used – including Sir Patrick’s Facebook post. However, the news was first reported by CBS at a Star Trek convention in Las Vegas. It is true that the news did not hesitate to spread like wildfire in response to that big announcement, but the initial spark of the first flame was ignited among a convention filled with longtime, loyal Star Trek fans that would appreciate the true value of that type of announcement more than most people.

When creating and sharing your content, the same principle applies. You should focus on captivating the attention of your target audience. Instead of focusing too much oongoingviral, pay attention to how your message was received by your key demographic. Think of the typical cat video online. Sure, it may generate millions of views. However, most of the views (and the overall success of those videos) is attributed to the people who love cats and (more specifically) love those videos.

Just because someone reads your content does not mean that they:

  1. Loved your content
  2. Will read or view anything else that you created
  3. Will share what you created within their own inner circles

Allow the passion of your target audience to drive lasting, organic traffic to your online presence. They will appreciate it more than most and will appreciate you more for keeping their satisfaction and involvement as top priorities.

Timing is Everything, You May Need to Work Up to It

It would be silly to think that the idea of bringing Picard back into the fold was an impulsive thought that just emerged out of nowhere. CBS may have had plans in the making for this type of jaw-dropping return for quite some time – especially after the success of its most recent Star Trek series first made waves.

Instead of diving into a Picard-led series, though, CBS knew to set the pace with an unrelated title first just to test the water. Leading with a Picard series may have been a misstep that crashed and burned the legacy of the character and the highly-praised Next Generation series overall. Chances are that Sir Patrick Stewart would have refused to reprise the iconic role if there was not already a substantial amount of proof that this new series could thrive within the CBS streaming service.

As you develop your content, you must always pay attention to the timing of it. You may have a great idea for a blog post, article or even online video that your target audience simply is not ready for yet. Develop a strategic plan to build up to the “big reveal” to make sure that you do not take a fatal misstep past the point of no return.

Do you have a mobile phone? Do you ever shop or read from your mobile phone?

It’s not too much of a stretch to assume your answer to both questions is a resounding YES. If that’s the case, join the club: nearly everyone these days is on their phones almost constantly and using them for everything from social interactions to ordering takeout.

Since we all know mobile technology is here to stay, it’s probably safe to assume that you already know your website needs to be mobile-friendly. But in case you need any convincing, in 2015, Google announced that being mobile friendly would have an impact on search rankings.

“Starting April 21, 2015, Google Search will be expanding its use of mobile-friendliness as a ranking signal. This change will affect mobile searches in all languages worldwide and will have a significant impact in Google Search results.”

In other words: your website search rankings via Google will tank if your website does not support mobile optimization. That same article shares tips on how to make sure your webpage is mobile-optimized.

If you haven’t already built your website, know that most reputable website builders are 100% aware that a big perk of their service is all the great mobile-friendly features they’ll be building into your website. If you’re hiring professionals, you will have very little to do with this process – it will simply be a part of the service you’re paying for.

For example, let’s look at an extremely most popular website content management system: WordPress. The company got its start in 2003 and is showing no signs of slowing down anytime soon. WordPress was featured in a March 2018 post on VentureBeat:

“WordPress now powers 30 percent of the web, according to data from web technology survey firm W3Techs. This represents a 5-percentage point increase in nearly two and a half years, after WordPress hit the 25 percent mark in November 2015. It’s worth noting here that this figure relates to the entire Web, regardless of whether a website uses a content management system (CMS) or not. If we’re looking at market share, WordPress actually claims 60.2 percent, up from 58.7 percent in November 2015.”

In short, WordPress is essentially the “Google” of website content management systems. Considering its staggering numbers, we’ll use WordPress as the example for mobile optimization.

Make sure everything on your website is up-to-date. This includes your theme, plugins, and any other website element that may have periodic updates. WordPress will post a notification on the backend pages of your website’s “Administrator” dashboard. Don’t ignore those prompts!

Something else to consider is that mobile optimization isn’t just about the user’s experience.  WordPress is making its newer sites even more mobile-friendly for you as an administrator. The details are explained in a recently published article by online marketer Nick Schaferhoff of Torque.

“The WordPress backend is completely mobile responsive (at least since version 3.8) and lets you carry out all basic tasks. If you have a tablet, you might even consider writing long-form content on there (phones, not so much).”

“To go a step further, there are also the WordPress mobile apps that are available for both iOS and Android. They even allow you to take photos with your mobile devices and use them on your site right away. In addition to that, the apps let you access more than one site at a time and are touch optimized.”

Schaferhoff also offers some other tips to make your website more mobile-friendly, including speeding up your page. This is important, because the patience of a mobile user is slim to none. It takes only a few seconds before they move on to the next search with a simple click of a button.

Schaferhoff explains that the best way to start optimizing page speed is with Google PageSpeed Insights. You’ll start by typing in your website URL, and from there Google will lead you step-by-step to faster and more consistent page speeds.

Tips from other experts include reducing image sizes (they can take too long to load) and switching your web host if needed (which can have a huge impact on speed). Both of these steps actions can make a big difference in your user’s mobile experience.

Google Analytics is a great tool for tracking your website’s progress. You’ll see what is and isn’t working, as well as who is or isn’t responding. Once you have this information in hand (or rather, on screen), you can take action to further improve your site or move in a different direction altogether.

Something else to keep in mind: SEO can be different for your desktop version and your mobile site. For example, something that isn’t an issue on your webpage, like video playback, can bring a user’s experience to a halt on a mobile device. You’ve seen messages before: “This video is not playable on mobile.” And what do you next? Move on to a different website.

Google details some of the most notorious mobile SEO mistakes that range from unplayable content to font size, and everything in-between. What’s more: Google tells you how to fix each problem. Check and double-check that all your website features are working for mobile users, because it only takes the smallest of roadblocks for them to click elsewhere and never return.

Last but not least: it may be far from your thoughts if you’re in the early stages of your business, but you should also consider developing an app. This builds instant credibility in the mind of the user and provides you with a new, modern way to engage with your audience.

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