Why is earned media an important part of the marketing mix?

News on many mediumsEarned media is one of the latest buzzwords gaining attention in content marketing at the moment.

Essentially, earned media is achieved when someone distributes content on your business’ behalf.

When someone not associated with your brand mentions you on social media, in an online or offline publication or blogs about you; it is considered earned media.

Earned media is the desired result from a business’ public relations and social media efforts and includes media coverage, blog mentions, social media posts or tweets, product reviews and open dialogue about your brand within online communities.

Earned media is not a revolutionary concept. For decades businesses have used public relations tactics to reach out to the media. The goal is to encourage publications to write stories about their business and brand in order to reach their target market and increase their credibility.

With the media landscape shifting from offline to online and with more consumers interacting on social media, understanding and generating earned media is becoming even more important.

So, why should you include earned media in your marketing mix?

Distribute and amplify your content
Most businesses now recognise the value in creating interesting, engaging and relevant content. However, there is no point in creating content unless it reaches your target audience.

Businesses need to think about how they will distribute and amplify their content in order for it to actually be seen by their target audience.

Earned media is an important part of this process, as it can help a business to reach their target audience without needing to use paid media channels.

Having your business featured in online and offline publications, consumer’s social media posts and tweets, product reviews and blog posts will help amplify your content and have it reach your target audience.

Tactics for achieving earned media include finding an interesting story within your business such as a new product, staff appointment or business milestone and drafting a media pitch, release or article to share with journalists and publications.

Another key tactic is to create content about your brand that is highly engaging and shareable via social networks. If the content you produce provides value to your customers, they may be compelled to pass it on to their connections, building further reach for your brand.

Build credibility
The most trusted source of information about your business comes not from the information you disseminate to the public, but from third party sources such as the media or highly satisfied customers.

People are much more likely to trust messages your brand when they read or hear about it in the media, than through a hard sales message.

Your loyal customers – otherwise known as brand advocates – also have a key role to play in building the credibility of your brand.

Brand advocates are a business’ most loyal, engaged and enthusiastic customers who are more likely to recommend trusted brands and favourite products or services to their friends and the wider community.

The content they create such as reviews, recommendations, ratings and stories about the experiences with your business will help to build your credibility among your wider target audience.

The bottom line is that customers trust each other more than any other source when making a purchase and that is something brands cannot afford to ignore.

Start by identifying who your brand advocates are by looking at who is liking, engaging, sharing and commenting on your social media posts or tweets.

Engage with these users and build a relationship with them by responding to their posts or offering them sneak peeks into new products or giveaways.

The opinions of your customers cannot be bought, which is why earned media is such a powerful concept for businesses and brands to develop.

Drive sustainability and better ROI
Many businesses are still spending a significant amount of their marketing budget on paid media. This is often because they believe that in order to generate leads and increase sales they need to pay to leverage the channel their target audience is using.

In fact, studies have shown that up to 92% of consumers trust word-of mouth recommendations, but only 24% trust online ads.

Earned media is also cost effective as businesses don’t need to pay directly for the content or the medium on which the content is published.

The main investment is the time and energy required to build strong relationships with your customers and brand advocates. This can be as simple as engaging with your customers on social media channels by commenting and liking their posts.

Earned media is also more sustainable. Customers will continue to create earned media through reviews, recommendations and social media engagement for as long as they continue to be satisfied by your business.

Earned media is a particularly powerful concept that businesses should understand and implement as a part of their marketing plans.

Whilst this concept should be central to your marketing efforts, it doesn’t mean that other forms of media should be ignored. Using a combination of paid, owned and earned media tactics is an excellent way to generate credibility and awareness for your business.

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