When you are working on promoting your brand online, you can pursue many different avenues. Paid advertising refers to any online advertising that you pay for, whether on social media or otherwise. Organic traffic comes from search engine results, other websites, and social media platforms but doesn’t come from online paid advertisements. Earned media refers to promotional efforts that you don’t pay for as opposed to traditional advertising where you do pay for it. Here are a few examples of earned media.
1. Customer Review
Customer reviews can be super positive and boost your brand or be incredibly harmful and hurt your brand. When someone buys one of your products or services, they can leave a review about it online or share your brand’s information on Yelp, Google reviews, blog posts, or on their social media platforms. While you can’t stop a customer from leaving a bad review, you can respond to it to show others you are trying to resolve any issues.
An influencer is someone with many followers who uses their platform to promote brands and market products and services. Influencer marketing can be very effective if the influencer has a sufficient number of actual followers. Some people call themselves influencers and use botts to make it look like they have a lot of followers when they actually don’t.
As mentioned already, earned media is media you are not paying for. Influencers will often want to “collaborate” with brands whereby the brand provides them with free products and services in exchange for them promoting the company through their channels. Some may say that this is not earned media since it’s costing the brand money, however, it differs from traditional advertising because it’s a collaboration rather than an exchange of money. Additionally, when an influencer asks for free products, it’s important to find out what their influence entails. Instead of looking at the number of followers, go through their posts and look at the actual engagement with their followers. Do they engage enough with their followers and if so, do they advocate for the product or service that they’re promoting?
Sometimes a journalist will provide media coverage of your business or product in the form of a product review or highlight a local or unique service or product. When a journalist writes about your brand or products and then publishes their content in magazines, newspapers, TV, or online, you get earned media. Journalists do not charge for coverage, and they do not ask for free products in exchange for coverage. You can ask a journalist to consider your business, but it’s ultimately up to them since it’s earned media.
4. Shared Content
Shared content is closely related to influencer content, but it’s promoted by people who don’t consider themselves “influencers.” For example, many celebrities, athletes, actors, and musical artists will share content about products or small businesses they love. They may share social media pages or website information, urging their followers to check it out. Ultimately, this is shared content, which is a form of earned media. While some may argue that these people are also influencers, the term influencer is generally applied to individuals who are not known for anything else.
This type of unpaid media is an important part of overall marketing, but it’s also harder to plan for because others initiate it. Engaging with your customers and online followers is a great way to encourage it. Sending out free samples is another way to encourage this type of promotion. As you build your brand, it’s also a natural progression for people to start posting content about it.