The difference between owned and earned media

Welcome back - here's part two of how to promote your content

Defining paid, earned and owned media

Before we jump into the hows and whys, let’s first take a look at the different media terms, and what marketing activities they are associated with, before we explore how you can incorporate them into your campaigns to boost performance and return on investment.

Bringing together your brand’s assets with owned media

If you own or control a brand, ‘owned media’ simply describes those media assets that your brand has ownership of. These can include your website, any associated blogs, an email list of clients and non-clients, and any social presence including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google+, or Pinterest to name a few. Each one of these owned media assets represent a channel for promoting your published content.

Taking one example of Receptional’s branded content, our own 'Complete Guide to Adwords Ad Extensions', we can explore the different ways in which the content can be adapted and repurposed across the different digital channels.

Social Media

Because our guide includes lots of noteworthy facts and stats about Click-Through Rates when using various sitelines, we can take bitesize pieces of information and share it throughout our social networks:

You can see how we’ve included a backlink to the download page, which serves as one way to lead traffic to the landing page, ultimately with the intention to boost download numbers.

Another way in which we can repurpose content is to use the unique infographics contained within our guide to share across our Twitter and Facebook platforms.

Facebook is a great way to share graphical content as the social network recently started putting much more emphasis on images in its NewsFeed.

Email Marketing

The guide could easily feature in our weekly newsletter, with a direct link to the download page. Including such shareworthy content in our weekly email marketing would also help garner greater social distribution, so it really is a win-win situation.

Blogging is also a great way to repurpose and promote content. We could easily create two or three articles based on the most pertinent points covered in the guide and publish and promote them via our blog. Here’s one example of a blog created from the guide’s content: Increase your AdWords CTR in under ten minutes (part 1).

The one factor that should be taken into consideration when employing all of the above tactics is ensuring that you always link back to the original resource. This serves two purposes; promoting individual articles and pieces of content, and driving traffic to your website.

Earned Media

Last, but by no means least, of our top three promotional tools is what we call ‘earned media’. This third party engagement method is generally perceived as one of the most desirable forms of brand exposure, simply because it encourages trusted and influential engagement for your brand, campaign or organisation.

One such example is a third party share from your blog post, or perhaps a YouTube video share… because the person sharing it is trusted by their connections and network, it is deemed as a positive signal and is highly targeted. It’s also akin to a third party giving the thumbs up for your business without you having to drive that engagement.

Earned media has a few different guises. Let’s take a look at them a little closer…

Content written by bloggers

Many bloggers operate like journalists or features writers, writing for targeted audiences. Sharing your content via their blog is a great way to boost your brand and encourage engagement with your site or social networks. Make sure that you target authoritative bloggers who cover topics related to your product and service, and it’s vital that you have a logical process (and recording method) for sourcing and contacting these influencers.

The more influential bloggers will receive many requests each week to promote content on their sites. You really have to make your suggestion stand out from the crowd to get them to engage with YOU first. And not everyone is happy to blog for free  – after all, it takes time and effort and for some, blogging is a full-time job. Offering a product for review, an infographic or something of genuine value to the blogger will boost your chances of them putting your content out there. Guest blogging is also a great way for bloggers to bring their influence to your doorstep, especially if they include links back to original content.

Individuals sharing on social

Depending on the individual’s social reach, a link from their account to your content or website could see traffic volumes increase from a few first-time visitors to a boom in users accessing your site. It’s a simple equation – the more influential the user’s social media account, the more impact it will have in the social networks… and the wider the reach of their recommendations.

Press Attention

Digital and traditional print advertising might be two different worlds, but they are by no means mutually exclusive when it comes to content sharing and promotion. There is often a large amount of crossover with digital and print advertising and promotion, with online and offline media frequently used in tandem. One example might be if your PR department decided to target a women’s magazine with a feature on smoking and women’s health. The feature might be printed in one edition of the magazine, followed by a reference in an online article for a newspaper website. From here, the online article is shared on Twitter and Facebook, and before you know it hundreds, if not thousands, of people have helped to create a buzz around the original feature and website, pushing traffic and increasing visitor numbers.

Content aggregators

Content aggregators like Mashable, Imgur and Reddit are hugely popular and channel significant amounts of traffic out to websites. There’s rarely a ‘one size fits all’ content aggregator – each niche will have a relevant content aggregator, so do your research and choose wisely.

Initially, you might not see a boost in traffic to your site from an item share on a content aggregator, but it should still be considered as a valuable location for you to reach out to key online players and influencers.

It’s also worth considering that, although there might be an initial ‘best choice’ for you out there when it comes to content aggregators, if your content is original and interesting to readers, it may well get picked up other content aggregators too. Garnering interest on this site might also lead to more coverage on other authoritative sites, including news websites, who will in turn create more coverage from influential bloggers and writers. And so the cycle of sharing continues.

To create this kind of buzz around your content, you have to start out with a comprehensive plan of how you can make it appealing across many different media platforms. Here are some tips on how to achieve this:

Enable easy social sharing

Make it easy for your content to be shared far and wide across different social media platforms with prominent social share buttons. You can enhance your social sharing with a handy tool called Twitter Web Intents. It allows you to prepare 140 character Tweets direct from your content, and means you have absolute control over what tweeters can say in their own tweets. Here’s a great example:


Quoting and citing

Snippets of data, quotes or interesting facts and figures from recognised or authoritative sources are great for sharing on Twitter. This kind of information can easily be repurposed into sharable content with links back to your site. For instance, Mediahawk’s ‘Legal Marketer’s Guide to Call Tracking’ includes many useful bits of data for its audience. A guest blog based on snippets of practical information from the guide could easily be blogged and shared, and with links to the original content will drive traffic back to the original article.

Write with coverage in mind

Plan your content with the kind of coverage you’d like from particular publications and outlets, and you’ll up your chances of being featured more prominently. Start with a list, and then ensure that your content is aligned with their themes, topics or audience.

Keep it Interesting and Visual

Sharing photographs is an easy but effective way to get your content out there. Enable users to share your content with informative key visuals that include re-pins for Pinterest or image embed features.

Three is the magic number… and combination

In the past, paid, earned and owned media have been treated as separate entities when really they should be used in conjunction to complement one another. For instance, if you have a great pool of owned assets, then paid promotion of these assets could result in ‘earned media’. You might also find that owned media and paid media enhance earned media, resulting in more credibility and authority.

The ideal scenario would be a situation where your paid and owned media creates large volumes of earned media, perpetuating the perception that your brand has a wide reach. To achieve this, you’re best starting out on the path of concentrating on paid and owned media, which should cultivate earned media in time.  This will help you to keep your budgets in line, and is a scalable approach that will earn you credibility.

However, it’s worth remembering that earned media will not simply appear overnight. It’s the most sought after type of promotion and third party recommendations carry a lot of credibility with them. Get it wrong, jump in too early and your brand or business could appear to be pedalling nothing more than a sales message… and that’s not users want to see these days.

Here are a few tips on how to amplify your earned media through owned and paid media to optimise your exposure, user engagement and website traffic.

Blog, blog, blog

A lone reciprocal link back to an original piece of your content might not create waves in your backlink profile or even your online and offline exposure. But blogging has subtler benefits that can help your promotional activities. Firstly, it can provide additional exposure to your loyal followers, subscribers and fans, and secondly it also gives a platform for you to show your gratitude and present your perspective on any issues or topics.

Make earned into your owned

Earned media is, in essence, an independent perspective on your goods or services. The third party might offer a completely new insight or angle that you hadn’t considered before, and you can use this to your advantage, repurposing the content across your own platforms. It might even uncover some issues in your own evergreen content that gives you even more direction in your relevant keyword searches - an added SEO bonus.

Likewise, if you’ve managed to procure a significant number of earned ‘wins’, then you could use this content to create sharable content for your subscribers, resulting in an upward spiral of earned media shares.

Tell the world on social media

There’s no reason why you shouldn’t shout from the (social platform) rooftops about the earned wins across your owned media. And why not get followers involved in the interactions and conversations too by tweeting @ the original creator of the earned media – whilst at the same time maintaining exposure.

Combine all three promotional elements and you’ll create a stronger strategy all around.