What's "Earned Media" Anyway?

What’s “Earned Media” Anyway?

Last week, I discussed how owned media fits into digital marketing’s triad of owned, earned, and paid media. Owned media is cheap, but time-intensive while paid media is a more expensive quick win for digital marketers.  Earned media is often the last or missing piece in a marketer’s digital arsenal, but it’s also the piece over which you have the least control.

Earned media is your owned media’s street cred. Earned media counts as any inbound links to your owned media: from online reviews, to social media shares and mentions. In SEO terms, the more others link to your content, the more authority your site has.

The problem is that not all links are equal. Links from popular, reputable sites boost your page rank. Bought links violate Google’s Quality guidelines and can result in penalties, particularly for small businesses.

Likewise, the context of your inbound links counts. Although all inbound links from reputable sites help SEO, some may hurt your reputation. A link from a positive review or mention is generally going to be better for your brand than a link from a negative one. Unless you can find a clever way to turn some bad publicity into a positive brand story.

In the end, you can only build links and acquire earned media with a great product or service, and great content. If your brand is worth talking about, you’ll be getting social shares, rave reviews, and inbound links in no time!

How long did it take you to get earned media? Did paid or owned media help you gain inbound links? Tell me in the comments section!

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Owned Media: If You Build It They Will Come

Owned Media: If You Build It They Will Come

As a digital marketer, there are three types of media at your disposal: Earned, Owned, and Paid media. Each type has its own advantages, so let’s start by exploring what makes owned media so special:

Owned Media boosts visibility and SEO with content that users will find useful or interesting. It’s not the only way to gain visibility online, but not having any content of your own reduces the effectiveness of any paid or earned media that your brand has acquired. It’s easy to lose someone who has landed on a rather skimpy or uninspired blog, after clicking an ad or inbound link.

Basically, if you build it, they will come. Owned media is the content that your brand creates for itself, to attract, entertain, or educate online visitors. This can range from blog posts, to videos, to ebooks or white papers: as long as its relevant or useful to your ideal customer or persona, it’s fit to publish!

The downside to owned media is that it is time-intensive and results are not always immediate. The upshot is that failures can be leveraged: metrics from every piece of content generated can be used to better target your key demographics.

Owned Media is forever. What’s great about owned media is that it’s your brand’s property forever and ever. Unlike paid media (which is limited to your ad sales budget) or earned media (which can be negative or fleeting), owned media exists on your company’s website for as long as you keep it (and I’d suggest keeping it, to avoid dead links that affect your site’s SEO).

Owned Media is your best bet for brand reputation maintenance. You can’t control what others say about your brand online, which makes earned media a bit of a crap shoot. Owned media, on the other hand, allows you to guide the conversation around your brand, and the industry in which your brand operates.

In fact, you can do as one Bay Area restaurant owner did and turn bad earned media into an opportunity to create your own positive brand story.

Speaking of brand story: try not to make your content all about you! A good rule of thumb for creating effective owned media is to avoid the hard sell, and focus on telling your brand’s story. This means avoiding shallow, fragmented, or irrelevant self-promotion and focusing on what matters to your audience. It also means acknowledging where in the buying cycle a particular user may be.

The restaurant owner in the above example probably figured that those who visited his website from Yelp were in the “research” or “consideration” phase of the buying cycle, and used humor and a creative call to action (discounts for a bad review) to get them interested in making a reservation.

Next week, I’ll talk a bit more about how Yelp and other online forums and publications play into the “Earned Media” aspect of the “Owned, Earned, Paid” triad.

Has owned media helped your company or employer reach its goals? I’d love to hear your insights in the comments section!