Earned Media

Developing Your Earned Media Strategy

Earned Media StrategyWhen you have content working in tandem with a successful earned media strategy, you're ensuring that you're connecting with the right people at the right time. How do you go about building an effective earned media strategy? I'm glad you asked! Here's how you pull it all together.
Overall goals
Before you do anything, you'll need a clear idea of what your goals are in the short and long term. Whether you're just starting out or your strategy needs an adjustment, having goals can make it easier to figure out how to get where you want to be. Problems can come up when higher ups in your brand create a set of goals that might be reaching in terms of what your brand can accomplish based on your budget and where you're currently at now with engagement and reach. It's necessary to reconcile what you would like to see happen with what's actually doable, based on a variety of factors. Those conversations can be tough, especially if you're faced with a boss who only looks at the bottom line without understanding your level of understanding about whether or not you can get there. It's best to go in armed with facts and all of the great things you can realistically accomplish with your strategy, rather than trying to sell them on their unrealistic wishlist.
Always have a handle on your audience
Who makes up your audience? More than who they are - where are they hanging out online, and what appeals to them? Having a thorough understanding of what's going to appeal to your target audience means you'll know how to reach them effectively.
What part social media plays
Part of knowing your audience means being clued in about their online hangouts. If chatter about your brand is happening on Twitter and Pinterest and you're putting most of your energy into Facebook and LinkedIn - that's a problem. Social media is sometimes considered an afterthought, or utilized in an impersonal way that can feel spammy. Using social media to rack up a huge number of likes or to share content is one thing, but without an actual strategy, you won't see much engagement or success with your content. Take the time to understand where your audience hangs out, what time they are most likely to be there, and the type of content they're looking for - and you'll see way better results.
The ideal strategy
Ideally, your strategy is one that blends earned, paid and owned media to accomplish your goals in a budget-friendly way. Rather than relying too heavily on one type of media, strategies that use each type to compliment the other are going to work way better.

How to Execute Your Earned Media Campaign

Earned Media CampaignAn earned media campaign has the potential to allow you to connect with consumers in a way that also inspires trust. We're all familiar with paid media, which can be highly effective, but sometimes lack the sincerity that consumers respond to. If you're trying to improve your earned media game plan, here's how to go about it. Do your research Before you can kick off your campaign, quite a bit of research needs to happen. In order to get the results you're looking for, you need to have a thorough understanding of your audience. Where do they hang out online? What will they respond to? Not only that, but you need to understand who the movers and shakers of the industry are so you can work with them to pool your resources and make things happen. Without this basic understanding of your audience, your earned media campaign is going to fail before it begins. Put the time and effort in and your results later with reflect that. Understand that success takes time Like any other marketing campaign, an earned media campaign is going to take time. Researching your audience, and then connecting with influencers to generate some buzz can't be accomplished overnight. It requires patience as you move through the stages of a carefully crafted strategy, and some brands lose their way by failing to realize that it's okay to wait for long-term payoff. The biggest mistake brands can make is to get antsy, to expect instant results, or feel pressured by a boss to make things happen sooner. Deviating from a carefully constructed strategy because you're feeling outside pressure is likely to end in disaster, which means reminding your team, and your boss, why you're sticking to what's going to work for your brand.

How to Get Earned Media: Tips for a Successful Strategy

How to Get Earned MediaThere's a lot of talk about how to get earned media, especially when it means competing with a lot of other noise. There's no one trick to making it happen. Instead, there are several ways to approach your efforts that will either make or break the goals you've set.
All about audience
One of the biggest mistakes you can make is not having a thorough understanding on your audience. It's more than the demographic you're targeting, which is also helpful. It has to do with understanding the kind of content they'll seek out to which questions in their life need answering and making sure you're putting out content that matches up with those interests. That being said, you can have the best content in the world and still fail to reach your audience. Part of having that total understanding is knowing what they want and delivering it to the places where they're hanging out. A lot of brands make the mistake of taking on a one size fits all approach and hitting their audience through popular channels instead of digging in to niche platforms, which can yield better results.
Set goals that make sense
Every brand is going to have a different set of goals when they're approaching earned media. Not only that, but more importantly, the look and feel of your campaign is going to vary based on what you're trying to make happen. An unclear, or unfocused, set of goals is going to be difficult to execute and measure what's working and what's not. Nail down the specifics before you unroll your strategy, otherwise you're going to create way more work than necessary when you have to make adjustments later!
Measuring success
The easiest way to measure success is to take the results you were getting before employing your strategy, and comparing them to the results you begin seeing. This requires that you chart your previous progress so you have something to compare it to. It's important to be realistic when you're measuring your progress. Some brands become discouraged and allow their strategy to fall apart because they're expecting results that don't make sense for where they're at. It's key to celebrate progress, no matter how small, and stick with your strategy so it can work in the short and long term.

Measuring Earned Media Effectively

Measuring Earned MediaMeasuring earned media, known as online word of mouth thanks to its means of travel in cyberspace, has no shortage of tools you can use. It can be an excellent way to evaluate your online presence and how it’s translating into results for your business. On the other hand, sometimes problems arise when too much emphasis is placed on the wrong data, which can skew your strategy, and prove frustrating.
Digital strategy and the 3 types of media
Today, most successful digital strategies are a hybrid of what’ll work best for each business in pursuit of making that transition from stranger to customer, and finally fan, through outreach. Instead of sticking to one type of media, which won’t work very well without others to compliment it, a combination of the three types is used. Like any strategy, success depends on each business and what their audience responds most to. More than that, is the understanding that each audience is unique and will respond differently. Here are the three types of media, so we can look at how they work together:
Earned media Likes and shares. Conversation generated through social media platforms, forums, blogs.
Paid media Advertising on TV, print, pay per click. Paying to highlight content or draw attention to your business.
Owned media Your website, brochures, mobile apps, retail stores.
You can see how having paid media (TV, print, pay per click) could go a long way in drawing attention to your owned media (website, mobile apps, retail store) which would bolster your earned media. It’s a cycle, with each type of media relying on the other to make things happen for your business. Now that we’ve talked about that cycle, so you can use it to look at and evaluate your strategy, here’s how to go about measuring earned media, specifically.
Ways to measure your earned media
How is your reach?
Reach can be tricky if it’s confused with “likes” or clicks, making the focus, incorrectly, a numbers game. The number of clicks or “likes” your social media presence has is something to note and then move on from. Too many businesses get stuck on the idea that having more likes and follows, in general and compared to competition, means they’re making progress. We’ve all been spammed with messages asking us to like, share, and so on, from a page or business we may or may not be interested in. How effective is that approach, though? There isn’t too much power in gaining a large following without any substance behind it. The danger of looking at reach in terms of how many followers you have online is that it’s a pretty shallow marker of success. Regardless of how you get the numbers to initially follow you, it’s not going to matter too much if you don’t have content and further engagement to back those numbers up. To effectively look at reach, you should compare growth from your starting point - a past campaign, or the first stages of your online presence. From there, it’s a matter of comparing growth from that starting point, as impacted by your campaigns and other efforts. The growth of your audience shouldn’t be strictly looked at in terms of a jump from 200 to 400 followers. Instead, pay attention to what’s influencing those numbers. That’s how you’ll be able to pick out what’s making a difference, and what’s prompting that engagement.
What engagement looks like
Engagement and reach go hand in hand, when you think about it. Reach is all about making sure you’re being heard. Engagement is about taking it a step further and making sure you’re heard by the right people. Every business that’s investing energy in social media knows that not all content is created equal - especially in the eyes of our followers. Walls of text generally turn off readers, who are viewing it as spam. Video gets passed around with an ever-growing appetite. Those are some of the general rules we operate off of. But what about your audience? Tracking engagement means knowing who’s responding to what. It should give you a feel of, out of all the followers you have, which ones are tuning in to listen to what you have to say. More than that, the followers that want to comment, share, and spread that “online word of mouth”.
Unique and new visits
Looking at who’s visiting and then returning is the best way to double check your reach and engagement. Sorting visitors by whether they’re new or returning is invaluable when you’re trying to nail down the impact your content, strategy, and overall online presence is having. You can also use Google analytics to see how much traffic social media and other pages are generating, all while getting a glimpse at the frequency of their visits. If you think you’re targeting the right group, and then find that your visits say the opposite, you have some work to do.

What Is Earned Media?

What Is Earned MediaWhat it is earned media and how do we use it? Earned media is easy to define, because it’s happening constantly, and it’s something we’re familiar with in practice, if not by name. Any time someone Tweets about your brand, whether it’s an event or feature they love, earned media is taking place. Same goes for someone featuring your brand in a blog post, or making a post on Facebook, which is not so complimentary toward your customer service. Earned media is the publicity that’s happening thanks to someone else. It isn’t something you can pay for, or concoct. It works in tandem with your owned and paid media, but the distinction between the three is pretty clear. Owned media encapsulates the stuff under your brand’s control. Everything from your blog, to website, social media accounts, and email. Paid media covers the advertising you’re paying for. It’s easy for lines to blur between own and paid media, but among consumers, earned media sticks out as something they can take at face value. It’s true that earned media isn’t something you can generate for your brand, there are ways to influence some of the conversations that are happening. Here's how: By now, I think we’ve all been beaten over the head with rules about how to engage clients and consumers on social media. But the big question is whether or not you’ve followed through. Too many brands think their work is done once they’ve amassed an impressive following. It’s great to have big numbers, if you’re actually reaching them, and then reaching out to talk and share what they have to say. The truth is, your most important work is happening daily, when you’re responding to comments and interacting with followers on a personal level. Conversation isn’t going to take off if you’re creating and sharing lackluster content. Figure out who you’re targeting, and what they’re going to want to share with friends and family. Different audiences are going to respond differently, which seems like common sense, but needs to be kept in mind. Figure out what’s going to keep people interested, make it easy for them to share, and you’re on the right track. Another seemingly common sense tip is to keep customers happy. Look how well it’s worked with Zappos! Nothing solidifies consumer loyalty like great customer service. We spend a lot of time talking about it, but a lot of the time, the execution isn’t so great. Excellent customer service has to become part of company culture, a priority, and something that is active, rather than passive. Examples of your brand going above and beyond for clients makes for great earned media, when those clients go out and share their experiences. Whether it’s through social media, or offline, their word about a great interaction counts for a lot. Now that you have an idea about how to increase your earned media, do you know how to measure it? First up, reach. Reach is often confused with “likes” or clicks, which shifts the focus from engagement to how your social media numbers stack up. It isn’t about the numbers, alone. You can have all the followers in the world, and not know what to do with them. Too many brands utilize a spam-like approach, sending out messages and Tweets asking consumers to like, share, and otherwise promote their brand, without the consumers having any attachment, or reason to do so. If you gain a large following through anything other than smart campaigns, and great interaction, there isn’t much meaning to those numbers. When you’re measuring reach, you need to have a basis of comparison to see how you grew from where you started, and where you end up after your efforts. Only looking at reach by the numbers, instead of the impact of a well-run campaign and great content, is misleading and shouldn’t be the only marker of success. You should also be looking at visits. New and returning visits say a lot about whether people are drawn in once and then never return, or if you’re offering something that keeps them coming back. You can keep followers coming back by providing content and engagement that’s worth their time. What do you have to offer that your competition doesn’t? If you’re struggling to come up with anything, back to the drawing board!

What Makes an Earned Media Plan Effective?

Earned Media PlanAn earned media plan is meant to do wonders for the strategy you're implementing. Rather than scrambling, or kicking yourself later for not covering your bases, you'll have a good idea of what you're going to accomplish and how to get there. How your plan comes together At the end of the day, earned media is all about knowing how to keep people talking. If you have an event coming up, or you're rolling out a new campaign, make sure word's getting out through a range of channels. You can have people buzzing if you attract local news, on and offline, to what you're doing, and also through social media, radio and in print. The way to get their attention? Make sure what you're offering is fresh, giving them incentive to cover it because it's of interest to their audience. This involves some creative pitching, so if that isn't your forte, I'd recommend bringing in someone else to draft ideas. You should also be contacting your influencers, who will pass on what you're up to to their audience. Your team of influencers should be made up of people in your industry who set trends, get people talking, or are looked to as a leader whose opinions are trusted. Influencers are a great way to get the attention of the audience you're looking to target. They're effective because they've already built up an audience that you want access to, sometimes people that you're not always able to reach as effectively as they can. To keep things running smoothly, it's important to delegate the tasks at hand. If you're sending out a press release, who's in charge of the writing? Is there someone who's in charge of signing off on the decisions being made? Who is it and can your team get in touch with them in an efficient manner? The point of crafting your earned media plan is to make sure everything runs smoothly. If you play to the strengths of your team, while acknowledging weaknesses, you can pull it off with great results. Even if you're not-so-great at getting organized, having a plan is perfect for keeping you on track.