Earned media is so crucial to a brand’s success, especially a newer or less well-known brand, as it gives you third-party credibility.
If you’re not familiar with earned media, it is the third piece of the media trifecta that is POEM: Paid, Owned, and Earned Media.
Paid is essentially the media space you purchase, like a television ad spot, billboard, digital display advertising or social advertising etc. Owned is the media your brand, funnily enough, owns: your website, social channels, assets, logos etc.
Earned media can be a tad trickier – it comes from the advocacy of your customers and other brands or publications.
Online reviews, shout-outs, article features – all of this can be earned media.
Now, anyone who has ever read online reviews (or been the subject of one) knows they can go both ways.
Sometimes, your earned media can be the first touch-point a customer has with your business – HiSmile and their massive influencer campaign is a great success story here. Often though, after being exposed to paid and owned media, your reviews and third-party advocacy can be what pushes someone over the line from consideration to purchase.
So how do you (positively) increase your earned media?
Make use of Google’s Review Feature
If you haven’t familiarised yourself with Google My Business, now is a great time to do so. It is the listing for a location or brand that shows up in Google’s sidebar or in maps, and often receives more traffic and impressions than search results themselves.
One of the extremely handy features of Google My Business is a review feature, that not only lets you respond to reviews (good or bad – you should always be doing this) but also to share a link that invites your users to review across your website, social channels and other owned media.
If you have customers you know are raving about your service or product, inviting them to review you is a quick and cost effective way to increase your earned media.
Alternatively, many brands opt to run competitions or giveaways for anyone who leaves them a review in a designated timeframe. Again, this does not have to be an expensive strategy by any means.
In many ways, you could classify influencer marketing as paid media. It typically comes in the direct exchange of monetary payment for promotion, or in exchange for free product or service.
For the sake of this, I’m not going to focus on ‘macro influencer’ campaigns (10K plus followers) and instead focus on micro influencer strategies.
Yes, micro-influencers have less reach, but the followers they do have are significantly more likely to genuinely engage with (and trust in) their content.
Statistically, engagement decreases as followers increase. In fact, according to SocialPubli, micro influencers on average generate 7x more engagement than their macro counterparts.
They are often also significantly more affordable.
If your brand doesn’t have a huge budget to put behind influencer marketing, reaching out to relevant micro influencers and offering them a free service or product sample, though it can be a little time consuming, is an extremely effective way to build up influential advocates for your brand who have an engaged audience.
Contract a PR (Public Relations) Agency
I realise this may not be in everyone’s budget, but a good PR company really does work magic. They have all the right connections to ensure your business is featured in relevant local and larger scale publications (online and off) and often can also assist with the aforementioned macro-influencer marketing.
On the flipside, should your business ever be in danger of receiving some less-than-positive earned media, PR agencies are trained to manage this crisis and ensure your business reputation remains intact as much as possible.
Engage, engage, engage
Pumping out content on social is great, but if you aren’t engaging with your followers and other accounts, why do you expect them to engage with you?
Positive interaction across your social posts can be a great testimonial piece, and yes, a large part of that is driven by your quality content, but engaging with others on their content increases the likelihood of them engaging with yours.
Follow relevant accounts, leave thoughtful & genuine comments, where possible (and tasteful) you can refer back to content on your own account – just try to do this in the least *spammy* way possible.
At the end of the day, remember that media always works together in synergy. If you have consistent messaging and branding across paid, owned, and earned, your campaign is on the right track for success.