Out of the 3 streams of media you’ll find in social media - paid, earned and owned – earned is the most valuable because of the word of mouth value that it can generate for your brand. Today earned media encompasses customer dialogues, word of mouth, viral pickup of marketing messages on websites, inbound links from other websites, and numerous other interactions fueled by social media. Attracting earned media fulfills the holy grail of social media goals by creating authentic social proof for your brand by turning the customer into the channel.
Types of Earned Media Content:
- Guest blog posts, news articles and editorials
- Polls or other data resources
- Research papers, white papers, guides and studies
- Viral videos
The old path to generating earned media involved developing a team to find relevant publishers, pitch ideas, create content and follow up with each potential opportunity in an efficient manner. But we know that marketers today simply lack the time and resources to invest in generating original content that will attract earned media in this way. In fact 73% of content marketers see the creation of original content as the biggest obstacle for content marketing. Leveraging your social networks for user generated content is essential to attracting earned media. User generated content is seen through social sharing and allows consumers to discover new information such as articles, products, services and share it with their followers. By providing relevant content brands can develop and build trust with customers.
So Why Do People Share?
At fMC 2012, Facebook’s first conference for marketers, Facebook global head of brand design Paul Adams presented a session called “What People Share and Why”. Adams outlined four main reasons why people share content with their networks: to make life easier, to build relationships, to help others, and to craft their identity.
A study by Discovery Research found that nearly 8 in 10 of Facebook and Twitter users “like” or “follow” a brand, and a smaller subset (28%) are fans of more than 20 brands. While a smaller subset (28%) are fans of more than 20 brands. However the most influential users are the 4 in 10 who say that they “like” things to let their friends and family know about products and services they like. In turn these “active socials” will impact the 29% of users who use social media to get recommendations about new products/programs.
Leverage Your Social Networks for Earned Media
People who share content with their networks, like, comment and tweet about products they use and love are the influencers you want to influence. But to be truly successful at impacting this category of users, brands need to identify those influencers who have an affinity for the brand, and find ways to engage them. People are three times as likely to “always pay attention” to posts from their friends as they are to pay attention to posts from brands: winning the lottery here means getting an active social media user to share and comment about your brand’s post.
Alternatively having a community of brand advocates offers a source of credibility that cannot be re-created or manufactured. When prospective customers become aware of the opinions and experiences of their friends, family and favourite bloggers they are increasingly affected by the opinions of people like them.
Five Tactics to Earn Trust and Get Earned Media:
Add Value: What is it that your audience craves? Figure this out and create content that will meet this need but make sure to also engage your readers with curated content to fill in for the days that you won’t be able to produce original posts.
Make Sharing Easy: Add social buttons to your blog and website, remind users to share at the end of your posts, shout-out your followers who do post on your Twitter feed or Facebook page. The point is that you want to make it as easy as possible for people to share your content.
Keep It Simple: Your content should be as clear, short and concise as possible. This way it is easy to read and easier for readers to grab quotes for sharing!
Strategize: Think about your goals for earned media, are you aiming for reviews from independent blogs? Twitter recommendations? Or maybe comments on Facebook? Once you figure out what you are trying to achieve, devise your strategy to meet these goals.
Target: Target the right people from the start and catapult the reach of your content on search engines, this will also encourage sharing.