EARNED MEDIA

The Ultimate Guide to Earned Media

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Written by Burcin Genc
28/05/2020
       

Today, customers prefer to interact with brands in different ways than before. Communication between brands and the customers is no longer stuck to one-way contents shared through TV, ads, or press. Customers prefer building authentic relationships with brands

Companies with the ability to build a culture that connects with their customers through a two-sided communication model see enormous rewards. According to Nielsen’s report, 92% of consumers believe in word of mouth (from friends and family) over all forms of advertising, compared to 24% who trust online ads

The reason is clear. While ad content often encourages users to try a product, checking the search results about the experiences of other users who have used that product before is a more reliable way to learn about real product experiences. And this is exactly what Earned Media is!

Earned Media Word-of-Mouth and Customer Loyalty

Paid, Owned, and Earned Media- What is the Difference?

It’s better to first understand the difference between owned, paid, and earned media before we jump into the details about earned media marketing. 

What is Paid Media?

Paid Media is all the content that a brand pays to be seen. This includes print ads, commercials, all kinds of online ads (display ads, social media ads, PPC, Search Engine Marketing (SEM), influencer marketing, etc.). Paid media provides brands with the fastest and the most accurate results. However, according to Nielsen’s Global Trust in Advertising Report, more than half of the participants trust any kind of paid content. And this makes paid media the least trusted marketing method among consumers.

What is Owned Media?

Owned Media refers to all channels owned by a brand and helps brands build a presence in the digital world. The most common example of owned media is a website. The extensions of a website like social media accounts (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn), blogs, or email marketing content can also be included as owned media.

What is Earned Media?

Earned media is the content that your brand earned, which isn’t paid for. Many people see it as free media. Like word of mouth, viral shares, reposts, recommendations, content picked up from third parties, or reviews can be listed as Earned Media. It is usually driven by strong organic search engine rankings and the brand’s high-quality content or service. Earned Media can be simply explained as an organic bridge that carries people to a brand’s Owned Media content. 

Below you can see some types of earned media, owned media, and paid media and also their junction points that feed the whole digital marketing strategy of a brand. 

Understanding the Change in Earned Media

Earned Media used to be just word of mouth before the digital age. However, with the help of social media channels and social media networks, just a single comment like “A yummy breakfast!” has become an Earned Media content. 

Today, people don’t share only good and bad experiences. They share every emotional connection they can build with brands. Besides, it’s not a one-on-one information exchange anymore. You should keep in mind that customers now have the ability to share every opinion with a huge amount of people who are linked through interconnected networks. 

How to Build an Earned Media Strategy

Remember that your Earned Media is owned by other companies that can be seen as third parties. Thus it’s not completely out of your control. You can lead successful Earned Media by shaping a wise strategy, and here are some tips for you:

1. Create Shareable Contents

People share your branded content only if they find something valuable in it. It can be something personal that they find and share to be a part of the hype if there’s something trending, or they can get into action only because they find it fun! It is proven that content with visuals like videos or impressive pictures is more likely to be shared by people. You should also keep in mind that making sharing easy for users by putting recognizable sharing tools with icons has a positive effect on sharing results. 

So there are 3 things you can do:

  • Engage: Reward your customers with your brand. Listen to their needs and demands to build strong engagement. Instead of keeping your distance, show your presence in their lives, and be a part of their conversations about your brand.
  • Equip: Be their reason for communicating. Give them the best products or services, knowledge, product, or story that your target audience would like and be surrounded by or would get motivated to talk about. 
  • Empower: Show your customers that they and their opinions matter to your brand. Make them feel important. Support them in different ways so they feel like an authority to talk about your brand and share their thoughts on social media. 

2. Interact with Your Target Audience

Social media is like a magic tool that brings your brand and your customers closer. No one has to act like a stranger now. You belong to the same digital world, the same network, and you can speak the same language. You can be a part of their daily lives now and you shouldn’t miss this opportunity. Spend time to talk to them and ask them how they are, keep it simple and friendly

3. Boost Customer Satisfaction

Earned Media is a great way to earn brand promoters. However, remember that you have to satisfy their needs correctly and make them feel so happy that they want to spread their happiness to others by sharing it online. Don’t be fake. Don’t try to promise the world to them because they are fed up with this kind of advertising. Try to understand them, create real experiences and emotions that will last a long time and be worth sharing.

Types of Earned Media

Sometimes it can be difficult to create huge marketing budgets, especially for startups. Therefore, using the right earned media channel is an effective method for many brands where they can get efficient returns. Here are some most common types of earned media activities:

1. Publicity from existing media sources – Backlinking

Although social media is popular and gives access to millions of new people, it is quite difficult to be visible by getting out of the crowd and the competition.

For this reason, media coverage is a great way for businesses to experience breakthroughs. You can get media broadcasts on some important channels for free, especially if you have an innovative, unique, life-friendly and remarkable brand because every medium likes to share stories about interesting or new services and content, especially if it is attractive to its followers.

Create an impressive press release and share it with the channels you think will create a gateway to your target audience. Make sure it is catchy and attractive. In this way, you will have a great opportunity to explain your services, thereby increasing awareness and strengthening your digital presence by getting backlinks from different strong sources.

2. Social Bookmarking

Compared to search engines, social bookmarking actually has several advantages. Search engines use algorithms that ensure the ranking of web resources. However, some websites have not yet been noticed or indexed by web spiders. This can make your quality content invisible for a long time.

In social bookmarking, all tag-based classification is done by people who can understand the source’s content on the web. This allows your quality content to be seen by more people. That is why the more your site is shared on social bookmarking sites, the faster it is indexed by Google and begins to appear in higher rankings in search results.

Bookmarks are public, but you can save them privately. Within the social bookmark, users save links to websites they want to share. They can also be shared with specific individuals or groups on certain networks. Bookmarks can be organized for viewers by category, from a search engine or chronologically.

A social bookmark does not require saving resources, it just creates a bookmark that references the resources. It is like bookmarking an entire website. In bookmarks, you can add descriptions to ensure that users have information about the content of the bookmark without having to download it themselves.

3. Guest Blogging

Also known as “Guest Posting”, guest blogging means to publish articles on websites or blogs that you believe can reach your target audience.

In this way, you can easily meet new readers and anchor them to attract them to your channel. It will be a very useful strategic move, especially to strengthen your brand’s blog channel and also the expertise perception you are trying to create.

In order to be a good guest blogger, it is important that your article adds value to the blog where it will be published. So you can create a win-win situation and build longer-term relationships, since blogs, where you want to publish your article, are probably run by influencers whom you want to have in your network.

Guest blogging also has a pretty good effect on your search results, because by giving backlinks, at the same time you are feeding your digital assets from different sources.

4. Republication

Republishing is publishing your existing content on other platforms such as Medium or LinkedIn to achieve more visibility and brand awareness. There are some key points to take into consideration:

  • If you copy and paste your content directly, Google might flag your site for having duplicate content as it will see the well-known sites as the original source. So, make adjustments before republishing.
  • You can also syndicate, which means publishing a portion of your article by providing the readers with your website link at the end. 
  • Also, avoid republishing your article immediately after it’s published on your website. You should wait at least two weeks for that content to be indexed by Google and take your website version as the original source. 

5. Word of Mouth

All the earned media marketing activities you will do is to strengthen word of mouth. Because the most important reference in the online ecosystem, as in the real world, is created with the comments received from the user.

As a result of your smart planning of earned media activities, you will be able to start using existing users as a gateway and channel that creates a strong and reliable connection to other potential users. 

Always remember that each and every customer whose love has been won means dozens of potential new customers! Do not miss out on them and try to encourage them to leave their sincere comments and references, which are much more valuable than many marketing tools you can buy.

Earned Media Marketing Tactics

Last but not least, here’s a wide range of Earned Media Marketing Tactics we have prepared for you to implement to your growth marketing activities. You can choose the tactics according to your main goals (brand awareness + traffic generation, conversion, and retention) as well as the difficulty level (beginner, intermediate, advanced).

Bonus: Social Media Marketing

Social media is one of the best and most cost-effective ways to receive word of mouth marketing, and therefore it’s a very big part of your earned media efforts. Building a strong social media presence is possible only with the right social media marketing strategy and planning. You need to set your direction in order to measure, report, and improve – and a solid plan keeps you consistent.

So here’s a helpful guide for you on how to create a social media marketing plan, the characteristics of the main social media channels, and some tactics for you to use in your social media marketing activities. Moreover, here’s our tool for Social Media Marketing Planning for you to practice and exercise on how to create new plans and track them easily. 

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