If a dentist tells you they’re great, you might nod your head and smile. If an ad tells you the dentist is great, you probably ignore it. But if your friend, neighbor, coworker or a batch of online reviews tell you a dentist is great, well, you just found your new dentist.
This is the power of earned media.
What Is Earned Media?
Earned media is one of the three main content distribution channels. It may very well be the channel that carries the most weight. A look at all three helps you understand why. The three main content distribution channels are:
- Owned media;
- Paid media;
- Earned media.
Owned media consists of content posted on your website, sent via email and distributed through other channels you own and control. You can post as much or as little as you like.
Paid media mainly consists of ads and promotional content that you pay to have published and distributed. You can pay for as much or as little as you like.
Earned media consists of content that is promoted or shared by third parties — at no cost to you. The third parties can include bloggers, journalists, customers, clients, readers and fans. Examples of earned media include:
- Guest articles;
- Product, service or brand reviews;
- Social shares;
- Mentions on social channels;
- Forums and communities, such as Quora;
- Word-of-mouth advertising and referrals.
Unlike owned and paid media, earned media is not totally under your control. Other people have to be open to favorably publishing, including, reviewing or otherwise mentioning your products, services or brand. That’s what gives earned media its alluring edge.
Earned Media Benefits
If you’re like 90% of shoppers out there, you not only understand the power of earned media, but you tap into it by reading online reviews before purchasing a product.
Not only do 90% of shoppers read online reviews, but 78% of them trust online reviews as much as they trust recommendations from a friend or family member. Whoa.
Online reviews are one of the most powerful forms of earned media, but the mentions don’t have to be in review form to have an impact.
- A notable 92% of consumers trust social media posts about a brand more than they trust the brand’s own advertising.
- Leads generated through earned media are typically 10% to 15% higher than those generated by paid ads.
Yes, earned media can give your brand a big boost. That’s because it:
- Gives you third-party credibility.
- More easily gets through your audience’s filters.
- Increases your reach.
- Bolsters your reputation.
As with most things in life, the more valuable something is, the tougher it can be to attain. This definitely applies to earned media, which can take more effort than straight-up owned or paid media. But that doesn’t mean it’s impossible. And it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try.
“Not having an earned media strategy is like stepping up to the plate without a bat.”
We all know no one wants to do that.
How to Increase Earned Media
Although earned media results are not fully under your control, that doesn’t mean you can’t take action to increase your chances of getting it. Sitting around and hoping for someone to mention your brand is not taking action. Weaving an earned media strategy into your content marketing plan is.
Reach Out to Influencers
No, not all influencers demand millions of dollars to give your brand a nod on TikTok. Depending on who you are and what you do, you may not even benefit from a nod on TikTok.
Influencers can include industry leaders and trusted individuals, organizations, industry associations or non-competing companies that connect with members of your target audience. Make sure you do your research before you reach out to influencers, finding out:
- What topics they cover;
- How frequently they publish;
- What they post on social media;
- How they interact with their followers;
- What channels they use;
- Anything else that can help you craft a winning pitch.
Develop Media Relationships
You know those friends that only contact you when they want something? Don’t be that person when you’re trying to develop relationships with journalists. Instead of only contacting them when you want coverage for your brand, build a working relationship that’s mutually beneficial to you both.
Send an email, or connect with them on Twitter or LinkedIn. Pay attention to their feeds and what they’re covering. Comment, answer questions, help out with sources (other than yourself), and mention them on social channels. When a story comes up that’s relevant to your brand, you may be mentioned or contacted if you’ve already forged a connection.
Attend Industry Trade Shows
As more in-person events are being held, you’ll have more ways to showcase your brand to an in-house crowd. Don’t just stand there in a booth, either. Get a speaking slot, if possible, complete with a handout of your slide deck that has your social, website and contact info.
Share text snippets, images and video throughout the event. Reach out to relevant media before the event to promote it. And follow up with influencers and others who may have mentioned you in write-ups during or after the event. These are all chances to build relationships and your potential for earned media.
Engage Your Employees and Fans
Giving your employees the green light to promote your company on their own channels is a solid way to get more mentions, as is reaching out to others who are already spreading the good word about your company on their own. Keep an eye on social mentions, making sure you respond with a thank you. You can also go deeper, asking them specific questions about what they posted to keep the conversation flowing.
Create an email list of your fans so you can readily share updates with them and your traditional media connections. You can also ask fans to post something about your latest developments, which many tend to do eagerly to show alignment with a beloved brand.
Create High-Quality, Compelling Content
People aren’t going to share shoddy content. So don’t be shoddy. Keep up a steady stream of engaging, valuable content covering topics your audience actually cares about. Shares and mentions are likely to come naturally. So are backlinks, which remain golden in the land of content marketing.
Add a layer of expertise to your blogs, emails and social media posts, and you can build up a reputation for being a go-to source in your field. That can put you on the radar of journalists and other content creators when they need an expert source in your industry.
Give Your Customers TLC
So many companies crow about how great their customer service is — but not all of them deliver on it. Be one of the companies that goes out of its way to ensure customer happiness and you may get plenty of earned praise in return. Treat all customers, not just the influencers, as the most important people in the world. This can mean:
- Promptly answering questions and comments posted on social media channels.
- Swiftly responding to emails and phone calls.
- Providing quality service and products, and fixing issues as quickly as they arise.
- Going above and beyond to deliver an exceptional experience, whether it’s online, in-person or over email or phone.
What to Do Once You Earn It
Because earned media is so lucrative, you want to make the most of it once you get it. You can get as creative as you wish when it comes to spreading the word. Ideas for amplifying earned media include:
- Publishing it on your owned media, such as your website or blog.
- Sending an announcement and link in an email newsletter.
- Reprinting it in hard copy to hand out at events, mail to prospects or frame in your office.
- Sharing it on social media channels.
- Including details in applications for grants or awards.
- Pulling quotes from the content to feature on pop-up displays.
- Using it in sales presentations.
Note that you may need to get permission to use the earned media so you don’t violate any copyright laws. Check the company’s website to see if it mentions repurposing guidelines or contact the individual or brand that created the content.
How to Measure Earned Media Results
Tracking earned media and its results can be done in several ways, depending on where the media was published and what kind of results you’re going for.
- Set up a Google Alert for your company name to monitor the web.
- Invest in specialized software to track earned media data on social media.
- Invest in software or monitoring services to track earned media across the board.
- Ask referrals and new customers how they heard about you.
Summing It Up
As one of the most powerful ways to spread the word about your brand, weaving an earned media strategy into your overall content marketing plan is definitely worth your while. Treat it as an ongoing endeavor, rather than a one-time task, so you can most effectively establish and develop a range of valuable relationships.
And don’t forget to keep creating a steady stream of valuable, high-quality content that naturally invites mentions, shares and backlinks to help spread the word even further. Need help creating that high-quality content? Find and hire your perfect content creation team at WriterAccess.com