If you are not approaching owned, earned and paid media holistically as a one set integrated strategy and execution, you are not producing optimal results. No doubt!
Well over one year ago, I wrote a piece “Integrating Owned Media, Earned Media, and Paid Media.” I emphasized that a well coordinated plan weaves strategy and execution across owned, earned and paid media at three time intervals: pre-reveal, reveal, and post reveal.
As we now look at how social media practice and platforms are evolving, the lines between these media are becoming more blurred. Take Facebook for instance. As a brand, when you post some content, that is owned media working for your brand, right? But if you look at the actual Facebook rules and user behavior, maybe not – or at least maybe you should have incorporated some paid media to really maximize results. Confused? Let me explain.
Up until Feb. 29, 2012 (Facebook’s fMC) most brands thought that you post something on your Facebook wall and it will show up on your “likes’” newsfeed. Thus, simply placing “owned media” to reach your audience. Well actually, that is not what happens. It turns out that Facebook revealed that on average only 16% of your likes see your posts. This is due to their edge ranking – a Facebook algorithm that decides which stories appear in each user’s newsfeed. The edge ranking algorithm is based upon a) the degree of affinity between the person or brand posting and their “likes”, b) the post content type (picture, text, URL, etc.) , and c) the timeliness (or freshness) of the post. If you want to up your deliverability percentage, you can do two things: 1) work on the your factors that influence your edge ranking in relationship to your users such as number of responses and engagements as well as the three edge ranking criteria just mentioned, and 2) use Facebook newly announced reach generator to guarantee delivery to at least 70% of your likes. By the way, reach generator is a paid service offered by Facebook. So now your “owned media” effort can turn better results with some “paid media.”
I’ll give you another example relating earned media and paid media. In the social practice I head up at my agency (MediaWhiz LLC, a Hyper Marketing Inc. company) we have a social offering we deliver to clients called “digital influence and outreach.” Essentially digital influence and outreach is finding influencers within the brands vertical and pitching them content relevant to the brand. But it is more complicated than that. No influencer wants to be pitched brand content, understandably so. In order to be successful capturing earned media from influencers, you need to understand their wants, their needs. They want to be successful with their audience. Thus you must be sensitive to how the influencer appeals to their audience. You must produce content that works for the influencer. You must assess the intersection of what they want to accomplish and what you want to accomplish for your brand and NOT sell.
So where does the paid media come in? If some influential blogger is going to carry some content that references your brand in a story, it is beneficial for their reader to see other reinforcements of your brand via paid ads. Not to mention that the blogger is likely to favor your content if you support their blog with some paid media. I am not suggesting that you explicitly pay them off for support of your brand. But I am suggesting that you consider some paid placements where your brand will be highlighted to create some synergy. Think of this as added brand reminders for the influencers’ readers.
When you look at combining and integrating owned, earned and paid media consider these benefits for each media contribution to the overall big picture:
Owned media – should be used to constantly reinforce who you are and what you stand for. Your owned media is not an advertisement for your brand, but rather well thought out content that crafts the story of your brand and the expertise and value you deliver.
Earned media – here you should actively follow, engage and interact with topical influencers to build strong relationships, and work to stimulate content from others. I often call this associated marketing … it associates your brand with independent credible sources. The sources are viewed as authentic (no brand subjectivity) and they are trusted.
Paid media – is important. Social media (both owned and earned media as well as sharing) does not replace paid media. Social media provides an opportunity to make paid media work better. Paid media not only creates awareness, but also supports owned and earned media in that it reminds people of the brand.
While consumers do not draw lines between these media, each type does invoke a different consumer feeling or emotion. Think about how you react or value the different types from a brand. How do you feel about great brand content; an “authority” mentioning a brand; and seeing an ad from a brand? They hit different chords. Each plays a different, non-equal value. But as a brand, if you plan a coordinated media effort with different touch points of owned, earned and paid media, you have an opportunity to resonate on multiple emotions. And the impact on the consumer is stronger when they are orchestrated together.
So where do you begin? That is really dependent upon many factors and I could never recommend something here that works for all. But I will give you a few general pointers. Start by considering the points outlined above for each media type. Stay committed to owned media … constantly produce material that keeps your audience engaged and wanting to come back for more information and/or entertainment. Stay active building relationships with influencers. This takes time but “earning” the coverage and mention is quite valuable. And with regards to paid media, determine appropriate spend levels and periods focused around compelling events related to your brand … a release of a product, seasonal change that has direct ramifications to your offering, etc.
So many people say think big. I agree. But thinking big means thinking across all your media platforms to integrate your big creative ideas.
Make It Happen,