Obsessed With Earned Social

May 14, 2015

Inside Social Earned Social

There’s been a lot of action recently pertaining to the social networks’ relationships with brands. And it’s only reinforced why we, at Inside Social, are so obsessed with earned social. Here’s why:

It seems like with every announcement from the social networks, they’re pushing brands to move their efforts from “free” posts to paid advertisements, which, in turn, is driving ad prices higher and higher. For brands, that feels like a lose-lose, stuck between a rock and a hard place. On one side, your free posts are increasingly ineffective and on the other, your paid posts are getting more expensive. It’s no longer a given that social is cheaper than other channels. For social to remain a cost effective ad channel, you have to have an increasingly smart and sophisticated strategy.

Recent deals haven’t made it any easier. In the case of Facebook’s deal with nine publishers to host their content, they’ve once again proved that social networks have the power to elevate certain partners. Really, it should be the expectation now that they can and will do whatever they want. That’s not a great position for brands to be in.

So what are brands to do?

What remains strong despite the changes, and in fact keeps getting stronger, is the power of earned social. If you’re unfamiliar, earned social is what your fans say about your brand on social channels — one-to-many as well as one-to-one. At Inside Social, we’re obsessed with it. Over the last few years — really our whole existence — we have relentlessly focused on capturing and leveraging the power of earned social. Not only is it immune to the whims of the social networks, it has the most impact on consumer behavior and provides the best insight into your customers’ mindset.

While we completely believe in the power of social ads, the best consumer experience is to have earned social in the forefront. As consumers, I think we can all agree that we’d rather receive recommendations on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, etc. from friends than from a marketer. And as marketers, the data says earned social is preferable, too.

92% of consumers trust recommendations from friends and family more than any other form of advertising. 50% of purchases are self-reportedly (thus, likely undercounted) influenced by word-of-mouth.

Our data agrees. We’ve found that earned social has twice the conversion rate of global social traffic.

Moreover, when you are able to focus on and track what your fans have to say about you, you’re able to develop a deeper level of understanding of their mindset. You’re able to learn what types of things your most loyal fans say to “sell” your brand to their friends. Perhaps they find a certain aspect of your brand really interesting that you’ve never really messaged before in your marketing. These are invaluable insights.

Building a strategy around earned social is timeless. No matter what direction social or mobile or even digital heads next, you can bet that earned social will be a primary component, and, with the right analytics, will provide deep and actionable consumer insights. We’re obsessed, and hope that you are (or will be), too.

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