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What is Earned Media? An Introduction

What is earned media, and why is it so important to today’s branding and advertising strategies?

Published: July 7, 2022
Today Digital - What is Earned Media

Rebekah Carter

While “earned media” might sound like an odd term at first, there’s a good chance you’ve already participated in this process to some degree. If you’ve ever shared a meme a brand posted on Twitter, or posted about your new shoes on Instagram, you’ve been a part of “earned media”.

Essentially, earned media is one of the three forms of media in the digital marketing mix. It refers to all of the attention given to your brand from people outside of your organisation, which you haven’t paid for, or produced.

Let’s take a closer look at earned media.

What is Earned Media? A Definition

Earned media is all the content, conversation, and hype generated around your product or company, created by other people, and published outside of your owned channels. Notably, you “earn” this media by producing great products or encouraging other people to chat about you, rather than producing the content yourself, or paying for placement on a site.

Earned media is an alternative to “owned” and “paid” media. Owned media is the content you create for the distribution sites you control, such as blog posts or videos for your YouTube channel. Paid media is promotion you pay to receive, such as with pay-per-click ads, and influencer marketing.

The great thing about “earned” media, is it helps to convey an authentic and highly trustworthy image of your brand. Additionally, earned media can help to increase your brand visibility and reach, by extending information to people you wouldn’t normally target with paid or earned media.

The Different Types of Earned Media

While all forms of media can help to strengthen your brand and generate growth for your company, earned media tends to be seen as more credible and trustworthy. Consumers tend to see reviews from other customers, or press release content from major publications as reliable.

As part of your advertising strategy, you can explore a range of different kinds of earned media, some of the most common options include:

  • Reviews and testimonials: One of the most common forms of earned media, reviews and testimonials provide feedback on your products and services. To be classed as earned, rather than owned media, these reviews need to appear on review sites, Google My Business, or external environments (like Amazon reviews), rather than showing on your product pages. 87% of customers read reviews before making a purchase.
  • Media coverage: Media coverage refers to when publications and online news sites cover information about your company for their audience. This might include publishing a press release, or writing a news story about something your company has recently done. Media coverage can also include interviews posted on other sites.
  • Social media mentions: There are various forms of earned media available through social media, from people re-tweeting your content, sharing your posts, or simply referencing your brand. The most common form of social earned media is an @mention when someone deliberately draws attention to your company. You can also make it easier to find when people post content about your brand by creating branded hashtags.

How to Leverage Earned Media

For many companies, earned media is one of the most valuable content available for connecting with a target audience and generating credibility. However, like any kind of content marketing strategy, earned media requires an effective plan.

To get the most out of your earned media, you’ll need to:

Build and maintain relationships:

Earned media thrives on relationships, from the connections you build with your customers, which encourage them to talk about your business, to the links you have with publications. Media relationships are some of the most important to develop in any industry.

It’s worth connecting with media brands and publications in your industry as often as possible, sharing stories about your business when they happen, and offering insights into why those stories might be of interest to the group’s audience.

When it comes to nurturing relationships with audiences, remember to interact with your customers as often as you can. Respond to their comments on social media or repost their content.

Create fantastic content

Many earned media simply comes from people sharing the content you’ve already created elsewhere online. Creating fantastic content has a number of amazing benefits for your brand, including increased brand reach. If you’re constantly publishing great insights and pictures on Twitter that your customers want to re-tweet, this will help you to expand your brand’s impact.

Think about what kind of content your audience is most likely to be interested in, and what might convince them to share whatever you create with their own distribution channels. Most people will want to share content that showcases new information, or makes them look good to their network.

It’s also worth utilising all the right distribution channels for your content. Find the social media platforms where your customers are most active, and get involved with posting regular blog posts on your website, or videos on YouTube.

Prioritize amazing customer experience

Excellent customer experience is an excellent way to generate earned media. Companies like talking about brands that give them a phenomenal experience. You’ve probably seen examples of this before when someone on your newsfeed gives a shout out to a support agent who helped them to fix a problem and get a refund.

Think about how you can give your customers a more amazing experience through every channel you use to interact with them. You can respond to issues on social media, or provide a range of ways for users to get in touch when they’re having issues.

It’s also worth doing your best to collect insights and feedback from your customers too. These insights will act as excellent forms of earned media, as well as giving you information about how you can improve your service.

Earn Your Earned Media

Earned media is a fantastic tool for companies looking to build their authority, credibility, and relationships with their target audience. However, it does take some work. You’ll need to be willing to invest in building the best possible experiences with your audience to ensure they have something valuable to say about you.