Earned media refers to publicity for a brand or company gained through earned, promotional efforts by employees, customers or fans. Paid media, on the other hand, refers to publicity gained through paid advertising such as banner ads, promoted or sponsored posts on social media, etc.
The Concept of Earned Media Exposure
Earned media exposure is, as implied in the name, earned. It refers to the exposure that you or your company, obtain through word-of-mouth. A wide variety of actions can induce earned media exposure. Actions such as the distribution of content, the influence of your SEO-efforts, the service you provide to customers, or a combination of all these factors. Earned media exposure simply refers to the exposure that you or your company receive as a result.
The Advantages of Earned Media
What are the advantages of earned media? The answer is quite simple. People don’t have to mention your services or your product, yet they may choose to do it anyway. As such, earned media makes way for the most organic and trustworthy way of expanding public exposure.
Word-of-mouth, from someone we have a personal connection with, conveys exponentially more trust and authenticity than a brand communicating from a corporate perspective.
The Disadvantages of Earned Media
From a corporate perspective, a downside to earned media would be less corporate control. Additionally, earned media offers fewer if any systematic processes, as users are using their own personal profiles and act by themselves. For legal and ethical reasons, employers simply can’t tap into these private social media profiles. Nor should they. This would compromise the authenticity and originality of the individual and turn them into an extended corporate advertisement asset. This is not advocacy, and it wouldn’t resonate well with any of us.
Paid Media vs. Earned Media
The personal relationship between customer and company is much less prevalent from a corporate paid media approach than through earned media. Any company with enough financial capital can launch different variations of paid advertisements to a large audience. Many large companies have the financial capacity to pay a celebrity to endorse or vouch for their product. This method of paid influencer marketing leaves behind an illusion of a genuine, personal relationship and endorsement of said product or service, due to blind trust in celebrity endorsements at large.
Earned media, on the other hand, is closely related to organic growth, authenticity, and integrity. The customers who vouch for your product are real people. Therefore, an actual personal connection between the customer and the company is being established. These people have no immediate stake in the growth of your company, sales of your product, or expansion of your clientele. They choose to expand your exposure, simply because you provide value for them. And it’s all about generating value. If your company or services prove valuable to customers, they may ultimately broaden its exposure simply by word-of-mouth creating a viral effect.
How to generate Earned Media Exposure
Earned media exposure cannot be directly generated and controlled by your company itself, mainly because it is earned. In very simple terms, the best way to generate earned media exposure is to provide the best possible product for your customers. Generate value for them, and they may generate value for you. Trust your ability to generate value for your customers and ultimately help them move forward themselves. Companies who are benefitting from earned media exposure at scale are often companies who operate from a product-led growth strategy where the focus is on building a product that solves a real pain. A product people will come to love.
There are still multiple ways of moving your earned media exposure in a positive direction. One of those is inbound marketing, a cousin of earned media.
If you want to learn more about inbound marketing, then please read the following article: