Content Strategy Part 3 : Understanding Earned Media

Earned media is content generated in any form about your things related to your brand. It could be via Influencers, Experts, Enthusiasts or Consumers. When Influencers talk about your brand it gives the brand an added number of followers. In the case of Experts and Enthusiasts, the brand becomes popular in their circles. When it comes to Consumers word of mouth is usually the most powerful means by which a brand gets the engagement.

This has to be your next logical step in your strategy after identifying your audience and creating a platform for owned media. So why is this important? It so happens that this kind of engagement cannot be controlled. It could go both ways. When it goes well the brand does really well in terms of customer engagement but when it goes out of control, it could turn into something you never expected it to turn out to be.

One of the reasons why this should form a part of your core strategy is because it is purely generated for the purpose of engagement. Most of the earned media a brand enjoys are because

  • It offers something of value and people want other people to experience it.
  • Influencers talk about it because they like the product.
  • Enthusiasts are the first ones who try to experience it.

As I had mentioned earlier that it could go both ways. Let us say that the user experience is bad, then, earned media generated would be of a negative value. This cannot be controlled by the brand as it is user-generated content.

It becomes very tricky when dealing with earned media.You should have a proper plan in place on how to execute it. This only for companies that can actually gain some value by creating an even or sharing all of its user-generated content. So one way to ensure that earned media generates positive results is by sharing content that users have generated about your brand.

A company by the name GoPro does this really well. They have a competition where you have to “Capture your interests, your passions, your life… with a GoPro“. Here is a video link to all the user-generated content shared by GoPro users. It is amazing stuff.

It generated massive amounts of user-generated content. This is a really good way of generating a healthy competition between GoPro users. They also had a huge cash prize associated with it. You cannot go wrong with this kind of user-generated content.

Another company that used user engagement to get people aware of the importance of mothers on Mothers day is by American Greetings. They created a tagline “The toughest job in the world” for Mothers day. 

It was truly amazing to see how users reacted to the questions asked and how the company used this to promote its core value proposition which basically sells cards for different occasions. Here’s the link to it.

The key here is to know what the core value proposition of your products or services are and this would help you get a better idea on how to create a platform to sustain earned media when it actually happens.

One industry that gets a huge amount of earned media is the gaming industry. Hardcore gamers buy games as soon as they are released and upload videos on how to cross levels and win Boss fights. These are very helpful videos and generate massive amounts of comments, likes & shares.

Users get so involved in the story and figure out how to make the game better and post suggestions on game forums. Some publishers do incorporate this in their next release of the game if the suggestions seem valid.

You can see how powerful Earned media is in terms of generating engagement. This is why a lot of companies are trying to incorporate this into their strategy. Please do remember that this is a slow process and takes a lot of time to generate. For some brands, it takes years to get to a point where users generate content on their own about the brand.

Be patient, be consistent and be prepared for it when it actually happens.


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