Aim for Earned Social Media

Brand LoveIf you are a marketing professional or student, you have probably heard of “earned media.” Earned media is a powerful aspect of a marketing plan. “Earned media refers to favorable publicity gained through promotional efforts other than advertising, as opposed to paid media, which refers to publicity gained through advertising. Earned media often refers specifically to publicity gained through editorial influence” (Wikipedia).

Well over two years ago, I covered the importance of “Integrating Owned, Earned, and Paid Media.” That article is the most visited post on The SocialSteve blog. Here, I want to cover something as equally important – capturing earned social media. I am kind of surprised that earned social media is not a prevalently used term. I’ll define earned social media as favorable publicity gained through word of mouth referrals by objective users of digital and social platforms.

When it comes to earned social media, don’t believe the hype. Go with empirical data. One of the most telling statistics I often highlight in presentations is that there is “71 percent more likelihood to purchase based on social media referrals.”

When people think of social media engagement, they most often consider conversations on their social channels where users are “talking at them.” But “talking about them” on non-brand digital assets may be even more serving to companies’ bottom lines as depicted in the statistic above. Thus, marketers must aim to win earned social media.

There are a number of ways to motivate earned social media:

1) It all starts with having a great product or service. To quote the cliche, “you can’t put lipstick on a pig.”
2) Produce content that is not about your product or service, but delivers valued and entertaining information to your audience. People often refer and share great content.
3) Reach out to influential users and bloggers and give them something they value. Don’t push your product.
4) Actively participate in communities and forums relevant to your product/service.
5) Search for people “talking about your brand” and engage with them. Thank them … Thank yous go very far.
6) Ask people that have told you that they have had a great experience with your product or service to share it with their friends, family, and colleagues.
7) Run UGC (user generated content) marketing campaigns.

The overall best way to win earned social media is to show sincere care and appreciation to your audience. If you have the right mentality and follow the tactics highlighted above, your loyal customers will become your most powerful marketing and sales team.

Make It Happen,
Social Steve



Filed under brand communication, brand marketing, brands, loyalty, marketing, owned-earned-paid media, social media, social media influence, social media marketing, Social Steve, socialmedia, SocialSteve, Word of Mouth Marketing

2 responses to “Aim for Earned Social Media

  1. Unfortunately, Brand Managers continue to be stuck on the notion that people really care about their products…..People care about their own needs and wants, not about how great a product is (notable exception for now is Apple). A few months ago you wrote a great post on the Marketing of Purposeful Brands: These are examples of brands which are leveraging earned media well.

    I think it’s really hard to get people to talk about your brand and for brand managers, there’s the fear of losing control.

    Let me give you an example of a company that’s doing it wrong. A few years ago, I started leveraging “TripAdvisor”. For the first couple of years, I found it to be a great alternative to Lonely Planet. Over the last few months, I’ve witnessed a significant change (in a bad way). They seem to be barraging me with e-mails as to why I’m not posting more. First was the carrot “one more review to you earn this badge”, now it’s just intrusive. About a month ago, I went to DC for holiday. I spent a few minutes on a couple of landmarks. About a week after I went on the trip they sent me a reminder about Hotels in the area, then a week after that I received an e-mail with the headline “Did you forget something”, reminding me of the landmarks I researched. That was just creepy and I lost trust with the site. I then tried to change the settings so I not longer receive notifications. Of course this didn’t work, so I had to take the extra step of blocking them.

    I bring this up because the folks at TripAdvisor fail to deliver value and are just pushing their product. Now due to my frustration, I’m spending time with the competition.

    In the digital world, once you lose a customer, they’re gone forever. The problem is you won’t know they’re gone for six months.

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