What is Earned Media?




  • — June 19, 2017

    Earned Media Banner - SEO Inc Blog


    This is part one of a three-part series on earned media, owned media, and paid media. Join us as we outline the differences between them and explain how their unique characteristics can help grow your business. First up — what is earned media?


    There are few things in digital marketing that are as valuable as earned media, search engine optimization could be considered one of the components. That is because earned media can be very hard to come by — after all, you have to earn it (hence the name). Businesses in certain industries may find earned media easier to attain, while others struggle immensely to get just the smallest taste of it. But even that small taste may bring value that your business can’t replicate for all the money in the world.


    In this blog, we are going to dive deep into earned media — what it is, how it differs from owned media and paid media, and finally, how it can set your business on a course toward new heights of success.


    What is Earned Media?


    A simple definition of earned media is “media acquired via word of mouth.” Going a bit deeper, earned media has three defining attributes:



    • It comes from a third party
    • It appears on third party channels
    • It is not paid for (This is where SEO can fill the gap)

    One of the biggest misconceptions companies have is how they think they acquire earned media. Your business does not “produce” earned media — it comes as a result of consumers interacting with your business.


    Earned media takes many forms. It can be an endorsement for your product from a customer. It can be a member of the press using a blog post of yours as a source. It can be a recommendation for your services, or a glowing five-star review of your entire company. Unlike paid media, which you pay for, earned media does not cost you anything. Earned media is generated by a third party on a channel you do not own — it is only gained organically.


    So why does this matter?


    How Earned Media Helps Your Business


    What is earned media so revered for? Why do digital marketers place so much importance on it? It all comes down to what earned media is doing or your business — its advantages and benefits.


    What is earned media a result of? Simple — receiving positive reviews, glowing recommendations, and brand buzz should tell you that your business is working. Your product is high quality, or your content is effective. Any and all of these can be true, and only by inspecting what people are actually saying across the many different media channels can help you glean any sort of information about your business — but once you do, that can be invaluable toward establishing your brand and expanding your business.


    How Companies Get Earned Media Wrong


    Of the three types of media, earned media is the hardest to obtain. What’s more — most companies don’t even understand how to earn it. In our experience, we have seen companies mistake the other types of media as earned media — and vice versa — resulting in thousands of dollars and hundreds of hours wasted. This is what they’re doing wrong:


    Thinking “earned media” is paid media. Companies that think they are “earning” a review by giving their product to a reviewer free of charge are not earning anything — that’s the same as paying for a review (which reviewers are legally obligated to point out). Such a review could be seen as less valuable as one given completely of one’s own volition, simply because the free product could have influenced the decision to give a positive review. It isn’t an impartial view of your company.


    Thinking “earned media” is owned media. Client testimonials can be powerful — they can inform users that a company is reputable or would be a good match for their needs. But, like reviews, testimonials are not earned media, even if you got it for free. Because it is coming from your own site, it would not be seen as impartial as a review from a third party site would.


    Final thoughts: Although earned media is hard to come by, it isn’t impossible. Your product, services, even your website all reflect the quality of your overall business. Acquiring earned media is all a matter of ensuring the interactions you provide your customers with result in positive experiences. After all, customers are seeking to have long-lasting relationships with their chosen brands, and if you can’t open up the conversation you are leaving money on the table. Now that we have answered the question “what is earned media?” you should improve your business messaging, offerings, and services to earn the most valuable type of media. And remember you site has to have visibility to gain traction.

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    Author: John Caiozzo


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