Here’s Why and How You Need to Use Earned Media Today!
When we hear the word “content”, the first few things that come to most of us include marketing blog articles and videos, infographics, case studies, ad campaign materials and webinars. These are content from different categories, produced in different formats by ourselves. But, is there another type of content or media out there to be tapped into?
Often compared to a tripod, your communication strategy should be supported by three types of media — earned, owned, and paid. While most of us are familiar with owned and paid media, the concept of earned media may leave some of us scratching our heads.
Distinguishing owned, paid, and earned media
Also known as “word of mouth” or referrals, earned media is not a passing trend. It has established its importance in communicators’ strategies. Consumers trust earned media the most. It is authentic and relevant content produced by fellow peers, with little to no underlying agenda.
As its name suggests, earned media is a result of your communication efforts through paid and owned media. The main difference between the three types of content lies in its delivery. Owned media makes use of channels that your brand is already controlling, such as your Facebook or LinkedIn pages, and company blog. Paid media requires brands to make a payment to spread their content through 3rd parties. Examples include advertisements, sponsorships, and paid searches. Earned media is completely different. In earned media, your audience is the content creator, as well as the messenger.
Earned media is a form of social proof and free publicity created by your audience. It can be based on your customers’ brand experience and shape the first impression that prospects have on you. Some examples of earned media are recommendations and reviews.
According to Nielsen, 83 percent of people completely trust recommendations they get from family and friends. As social beings, we turn to others with prior experience and seek for relatable advice in times of uncertainties. This behaviour is inherent in our everyday life when we encounter unfamiliar situations. By incorporating earned media into your communication work, you can convince and establish trust with your prospects and customers to support your business.
Achieve higher ROIs and build better relationships with earned media
Now that you understand what earned media is, it’s time to draw the lines between earned media and attaining measurable results. With earned media, you will be able to:
- Reach out to a wider relevant audience,
- Get a clear and deep understanding of what your target audience needs, thinks and wants,
- Improve and maintain positive brand image in the eyes of the public, and
- Achieve and measure higher ROI.
Reach out to a wider relevant audience
As mentioned, one of the biggest difference between earned and owned media is the messenger. Owned media leverages on your own network and the reach of your message is limited to your followers. That is assuming that they do not share the content with their own peers. This places a “ceiling” on the number of individuals that are unaware about your business that you can reach out to. This may not matter if you are intending to engage your existing follower base. However, to increase brand visibility and spread word on our business to a wider audience that goes beyond our existing followers, we need to promote the creation of earned media.
As earned media on the other hand taps into your followers’ networks, it amplifies your brand visibility to potential clients who have similar demographics and purchasing behavior as your followers. This is the same reason why we create lookalike audiences in Facebook Advertisements. By finding people who are similar to our customers, we can attract higher quality leads and achieve a higher conversion rate.
Apart from the demographic and behavioral similarity, another benefit of earned media in relation to reach is “evading” Facebook’s algorithm. As most of us know, business page posts are only able to reach out to 10% of followers. On the other hand, a user’s post is able to reach out to 35% of their friends. Additionally, the average Facebook user has 338 friends. This means that even if you have 400 followers, approximately 40 fans will be able to see it. This is the reach that you can achieve if you solely rely on owned media. However, if just one of your followers post about you, 118 individuals are estimated to come in contact with the post. That’s close to 3x the potential reach you can achieve via owned media!
Get a clear and deep understanding of what your target audience needs, thinks and wants.
Gain valuable insights by monitoring what your audience is saying online. These insights range from what your customers think about your brand as a result of their experience, your competitors, and more. Picking out vital insights help boost your communication efforts’ effectiveness. For example, you may realise that customers have been expressing an appreciation for a certain aspect of your brand that does not happen to be your unique selling point. Understanding their reasons can shed light on customers’ ever-changing needs and wants. With our sister product Notified, you can quickly identify what your customers want, how they want it to be packaged, and how it should be delivered. By listening to your customers and tweaking your product iteratively, you will be able to respond and fulfil the market needs in an efficient way.
Improve and maintain positive brand image in the eyes of the public
A key function of communications is to ensure that good news spread like fire, but bad news stay contained. By monitoring your audience is saying online, you will be able to leverage on trending topics to increase brand visibility, and implement appropriate damage control measures to prevent negative information from spreading. It could be a customer’s complaint, bad review or misunderstanding. By picking up on such messages quickly, it allows you to tackle to root cause quickly.
Achieve and measure higher ROI
A successful marketing or communication campaign leaves people talking, even after it has ended. But, there was no clear way of understanding how successful they were as metrics were collected based on the campaign itself previously. However, we are now able to understand and quantify the success by comparing the amount of earned media before and after the campaign. Doing so allows you to evaluate your work’s ROI and understand what works best for your brand. With a successful campaign, you can expect to see more earned media being contributed. The content then can be upcycled into owned and paid media powered campaigns. Because consumers trust it so much, it has been revealed that earned media rakes in 5x higher conversion rates as compared to paid media.
How to Start Collecting Earned Media ?
Excited to start incorporating earned media into your communication strategies? Here are 3 easy ways you can get the ball rolling.
1. Hold a Catchy Hashtag Campaign
Think Coca Cola. What is it about the brand that makes it so easy to remember and talk about?
Coca Cola’s #shareacoke is an easy and catchy hashtags that has became a part of their brand identity. It is an exemplar how something simple can shape how customers remember your brand and get them talking about you. Because, who would remember or want to use a hashtag #thislongbutdoesnotringabell. The Share a Coke campaign started in the mid-2010s as a multi-national marketing campaign that is still going strong up till today. It rebranded Coca Cola’s traditional coke logo with names such as Tom or Julia to engage their customers. Starting off their campaign with more common names and titles such as Tom or BFF and Mom , Coca Cola took in suggestions along the way and added new names into the mix.
According to Sprout Social,75% of consumers are willing to share their good experience with a company. You just need to give them a little nudge, be it a platform or reason to talk about you. Introducing relatable hashtags can encourage customers to mention your brand is one apt way of doing so. Learning from Coca Cola, promoting a part of your brand that can be personalised or engaging to your audience can encourage your customers even more to share their personal take on it.
2. User generated content competition and sharing
Another way to get customers talking is through incentives and competitions. Photo competitions are one of the easiest and most convenient ways to implement as photo content is the most common type of user-generated content created by millennials today. Additionally, having an incentive for the competition promotes participation.
Last December, Hifi Klubben, Scandinavia’s largest high quality sound and image product chain held a month-long photo competition leading up to Christmas, with the support of Sparkle. In one month, Hifi Klubben collected 467 user-generated content and reached out to 174,613 unique individuals through social media. Holding competitions through social media allows you to leverage on your participants’ social media to spread brand awareness. By posting about you on their social media channels, your participants’ followers are able to read about you indirectly through their posts. This in turn can spark more content to be written as they may want to participate in the competition as well.
3. Take things into your own hands and connect with influencers and journalists
Lastly, you can also take the opportunity to work with influencers and journalists. This can be done by giving them early company insights to be released to their target audience. Of course, it is important to make sure that you are working with influencers that are relevant to your brand and industry, in order to reach out to your target audience. By working with influencers and journalists, you are able to leverage on their wide follower base to spread information efficiently. Influencers and journalists are able to process the information into content that readers find more engaging and appealing. Consequentially, these readers may share these articles that are written about you, with their own social media channels, resulting in more earned media being collected!
In a digital age where peer content is highly acclaimed, having earned media incorporated in your content strategy can boost your communication results remarkably. From building and maintaining good relationships with customers and prospects to increased conversions, earned media is your answer. Let us guide you through your earned media journey today.