In this digital age, your business obviously needs an online presence. A large portion of your marketing budget is likely already allocated to fueling the primary digital channels like your website and social networks, and even dedicated content properties like a blog. But you need to do more than that to stand out. One way to make your brand stand out is to use earned media.
What Is Earned Media?
Earned media is any content coming from a third party — something outside your control. It’s different from owned media and paid media because it’s free.
Earned media refers to positive reviews, mentions in industry media, user-generated content, and guest posts on third-party sites. When you think about earned media, think about word-of-mouth marketing online.
How Earned Media Differs From Owned Media and Paid Media
- You can think of earned, owned, and paid media as different traffic sources to your business.
- Earned media is all media you don’t pay for, like your fans sharing your content on their own.
- Owned media is the online media you create and own (website, social media accounts, etc.).
- Paid media is your ads and sponsored posts that you pay to get out there (Facebook, Google Adwords, etc.).
It’s essential to use all three types of content marketing in harmony to create a unified content marketing strategy that increases SEO.
Consider separating owned, earned, and paid media into different teams for maximum effectiveness.
Image source: Titan
Examples of Earned Media, Paid Media, and Owned Media in Internet Marketing
A journalist sees a product or brand at an industry event, tests it out, and writes a review article about it. The author’s readers trust their opinion, so they’re more likely to purchase the product after reading the positive review.
A customer tweets or shares an Instagram story about a brand experience, tagging the brand’s account so other people see it as well. Some of these followers may not have heard about the brand before, but they trust it more than an advertisement or commercial since the social media post is from another customer.
These are both examples of earned media.
Paid media and owned media can put you in front of your target audience. Paid ads can be an excellent way to increase awareness of your business, but it’s essential not to rely on paid advertising.
It will be costly, and you may not always convert the traffic you buy into customers. Paid ads can also put you in front of people who may not be familiar with your brand, which is why it’s crucial to provide context through owned brand assets like blogs.
Another example of paid media is finding and working with influencers since influencers are usually offered some sort of compensation for advertising your company or products on their platform. Influencers are a great form of marketing as they appear more natural than PPC ads or popups.
How Businesses Can Use Earned Media
In today’s business landscape, you often hear about the importance of earned media. But how can businesses use it?
Here are the ways you can use earned media to help build your brand:
- Create and pitch a story angle that news outlets will find irresistible
- Get familiar with press releases and white papers and how they’re structured
- Make sure you’re following all the rules when contacting journalists
- Add value by sharing your knowledge or doing interviews on social networks
- Offer incentives so people will talk about you on their blog posts
- Encourage user-generated content and incentivize people to write positive reviews
Why Is Earned Media Important?
There are limitless ways to benefit from earned media, and all derive from the agility and cost efficiency this type of marketing offers businesses.
1. It Is a Very Effective Strategy for Raising Brand Awareness
If people talk about your brand on social media or in the news, it will raise awareness of your business and build brand recognition. By increasing your audience’s familiarity with your business, you improve their chances of purchasing from you in the future.
2. Increases Website Traffic & Conversions
One of the essential benefits of earned media is the exposure it brings to your brand and products. As you generate more buzz, you will also increase traffic to your company’s website and other marketing channels such as your Facebook Page, Twitter account, and YouTube channel.
This increased activity can lead to more conversions as people become interested in what you offer.
3. Social Proof Is Power
In addition to helping people find your business, earned media also increases trust in your brand by providing social proof of its value.
So why do you need social proof in your content strategy?
When others talk about how great a product or service is, people pay attention and want to learn more.
4. Reach a Wider Audience
When people are talking about you, they are essentially sharing your message with their audience of followers and customers. That way, even if someone doesn’t follow you on Twitter or subscribe to your Facebook page, they still may see positive comments about the experience they had with your business or products.
5. It’s Free (for the most part)
Cost efficiency is the most obvious benefit of using earned media to market your business. You may still incur some costs (ex: having a PR firm handle this channel completely), but the cost is typically much smaller when compared with the money you would spend on paid media.
6. Your Potential Customers View It as More Credible
When people hear about your business through earned media, they view it as more credible than if they heard it through paid media. That’s because they can tell that people like them are talking about your business instead of just being a paid advertisement.
7. Makes the Customers Feel Heard
Earned media often goes hand in hand with “word of mouth marketing” because it comes in conversations between customers, influencers, and other third parties. This form of marketing puts the customer at the center stage and makes them feel heard and appreciated.
8. You Get to Reach Your Target Audience Wherever They Are
If someone else has already built up a captive audience that fits your target demographic, then getting them to talk about you is an easy way to reach this audience directly on the platforms they use most often.
9 Tips for Implementing & Generating Earned Media
User-generated content is the lifeblood of earned media. Here are nine ways to get the most with UGC:
1. Have a Good Relationship With Your Industry Media
Many businesses are fearful of the media, never knowing what to expect from a journalist or how they will report on their company. But in reality, if you have a strong relationship with the media, it can be a great way to get your business’ message across in a positive light and earn you some extra coverage!
2. Keep Your Content Engaging and Shareable
One of the best ways to earn media is by creating content that journalists will want to share. Consider using eye-catching illustrations, trending graphic designs, interesting facts, and relevant information that readers will find helpful and engaging.
If your content is good enough, they may even use it as a resource for their own article, which is free publicity for your brand!
3. Practice SEO Across Your Website & Posts
Search engine optimization is an essential part of any online marketing strategy because it helps reach more people looking for products or services like yours.
Optimizing your website and blog posts with relevant keywords increases your chances of appearing higher in search results pages, leading to more traffic coming from those searches.
Image source: MarketSplash
4. Maximize Your Distribution Channels
One of the most crucial steps in implementing an earned media strategy is to maximize your distribution channels. Get your message out to people in multiple ways, such as social media platforms, email lists, and even paid ads.
5. Show Off Your Industry Expertise
When you actively show off your industry expertise and share it with others, you’re increasing your chances of being featured as a guest on podcasts and other shows. You can also earn coverage from industry blogs and websites by offering relevant content and thought pieces around current events or trends in your niche.
6. Facilitate Strong Customer Relationships
Strong customer relationships are the foundation for generating positive brand stories and reviews. When customers have a great experience with your company, they’re more likely to share their stories on social media or review platforms like Yelp and Google Business Pages.
The stronger customer relationships you create, the more opportunities you’ll have to generate positive earned media stories that spread awareness of your brand organically.
7. Use Influencer Marketing
Influencer marketing is a great way to get earned media for your products and improve SEO rankings. Identify and reach out to influencers within your industry, such as bloggers, journalists, or other experts who influence your niche.
If the influencer likes what you’re doing on social media and feels that it applies to their audience, they will start sharing it with their followers.
Image source: MarketSplash
8. Participate in Events
If any events are going on where you can meet journalists or influencers face-to-face, please participate in the event. Invite them over to your booth if you have one and interact with them personally.
One-on-one engagements will make a lasting impression on bloggers and journalists and give you a solid chance of getting earned media from them down the line.
9. Increase Consumer Engagement
Increase consumer engagement by finding ways to make your product or service more fun, new and exciting. If you offer a SaaS product, make sure to fix and improve your buyer experience. Consider adding features to an existing product, creating a new product line, or even offering something for free.
By making your product more engaging, you will increase the likelihood of people sharing their experience with it in all digital channels.
The key takeaway is that earned media can be a great addition to your digital marketing strategy, but only if you begin using it from the get-go. Consider an overall strategy that combines earned media, paid media and owned media and leverage more user-generated content than your competitors.
Earned media is vital in any digital marketing strategy because it is more trusted than any media your company has created by itself. People are more likely to trust organic opinions from other people who have used your product or interacted with your brand before as they know it is unbiased and real.
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