When a brand posts content on social sites and it goes viral that translates to mega-exposure on the cheap. Everyone talks about and shares the biggest successes in this vein, like Oreo’s iconic “You Can Dunk In The Dark” Super Bowl campaign, which raked in 525 million impressions.
Brands wants to create powerful earned media content, and agencies routinely pitch their ability to generate earned media successes.
However, in a recent report from BI Intelligence, we find that despite agencies’ assurances, earned media is too often an afterthought, and there is still a huge bias toward maximizing ad spend, whether in conjunction with earned media or not. Why? Because strong earned media content — the only kind that really works — requires a commitment of time and energy, with uncertain metrics and payoffs. We delve into the promise and the difficulties of an earned media strategy.
Here’s how the earned media landscape is shaping up:
- Earned media as a strategic focus is tricky: Too often, an earned media strategy is an afterthought, tacked on at the end — as if its only purpose was to squeeze out a few hundred-thousand “free” impressions. Why? There is still a bias in the client-side toward maximizing the proportion of their spend going to actual ad buys, which they sometimes call “working” spend, as opposed to “non-working” spend. The result? Agencies, social media platforms, and even digital publishers are promising earned media as if it were a condiment that can be quantified and heaped out in spoonfuls as value-adds to paid campaigns, not as a full-blown strategy with a life of its own.
- But, most brands and businesses, even small ones, are embracing the earned media paradigm: Eighty-four per cent of businesses said “the trend toward earned media via social media marketing” was quite significant or highly significant to their organisations, and 90% believed it would be so by 2015, according to a recent Econsultancy and Adobe survey. A Technorati survey found that 55% of 150 major brands had adopted specific earned media goals.
- Earned media has any number of advantages: Many of them are obvious: it’s “free,” in the sense that there’s no direct payment for the exposure provided, it’s transparent in that brands need not rely on intermediaries to measure earned media’s impact, and it tends to create greater trust than paid or owned messages. People will trust the enthusiasms and recommendations of their friends, acquaintances, and professional networks more than ads, including TV ads.
- But, the disadvantages are less obvious: Some brands may be frightened away from earned media simply by the prospect that an earned social media campaign might morph into a user-generated storm of negative publicity. But, the real disadvantages have to do with earned media’s hidden costs. It takes time and effort. It requires investment in internal and external social media content generation, i.e. owned media. For this reason, earned media can quickly become as expensive as paid media, or more so. A final disadvantage to earned media is that it is difficult to collect, track, and measure. However, the tools are there, and if earned media became more of a focus, these tools would likely see more refinement and development.
In the report, we carefully define what exactly earned media means in the context of a modern social media strategy, analyse how to make earned media via social media a strategic focus, detail the various different approaches and methodologies brands are using to generate earned media via social media, and look at the various benefits and potential disadvantages of generating earned media via social media.
- Defines what exactly earned media means in the context of social media
- Analyses how to make earned media via social media a strategic focus
- Details the various different approaches and methodologies brands are using to generate earned media via social media
- Looks at the various benefits and potential disadvantages of generating earned media via social media.
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