Measuring 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.