Everything You Need To Know About Earned Media in 2021
Picture this: your biz goes viral. You’re on everyone’s Instagram feed, email inbox, and heck, you’re even on the news.
While every business secretly wishes they could take the world by storm, it’s really hard to achieve virality.
There’s usually no rhyme or reason to the world’s obsession with unicorns, TikTok challenges, or muscular kangaroos. Engineering virality is like finding Atlantis—it might be possible, but nobody’s really done it yet.
The best way to make something as vague as “strategic marketing” come to life for your brand is to enjoy your time in the limelight with earned media.
If you’re curious about earned media, how to execute it in the real world, and how to, well, earn it, buckle up, buttercup. Let’s dig into what earned media is and how your brand can use it to find more customers.
Our definition of earned media
So, what’s the deal with earned media?
You get earned media any time someone makes content about your brand and you didn’t pay for it.
Basically, earned media happens when someone, be it a customer, influencer, or journalist, says something about your brand because they want to, not because you paid them.
Earned media is usually made by a third-party, but savvy marketers know how to position themselves to get more earned media (more on that in a sec).
Earned media is not:
Paid media. You aren’t sponsoring ads or running PPC campaigns to get it.
Owned media. This isn’t you publishing a press release on your site or writing something on social media.
3 reasons we love earned media
You have less control over earned media because someone else is writing it, but that’s okay! Earned media is a branding goldmine (as long as the writer isn’t super-pissed at you, that is).
We love earned media for 3 reasons.
1- Cut through the crud
Between inflammatory politics, funny memes, and personal updates, your customers are mired in the Swamp of Distraction that is social media.
Are they really going to pay attention to your brand?
Especially if you’re writing self-promotional posts that suck?
Fortunately, earned media cuts through the crud. Because you aren’t tooting your own horn, your audience trusts the content more than usual.
Since it’s not you disseminating a glowing review about yourself, earned media cuts through customers’ filters and actually delivers the message.
2 - Reach a wider audience
Whether you land a feature on a blogger’s site or a bona fide TV news slot, earned media helps you reach even more customers.
If you’re struggling to get the word out about your awesome products, earned media puts it in front of fresh eyes.
But you don’t necessarily need to pursue paid media to get features.
It’s entirely possible to convert satisfied customers into fanatical influencers for your brand.
Here’s how influencer marketing works within earned media:
You share your branded content via social media, as usual.
A happy customer replies with their own glowing endorsement of your brand. They then share that content out to their network.
You ask that happy customer for permission to share their story with your audience at large. This is user-generated content.
But this is where it gets juicy! This customer becomes such an avid supporter of your brand that you ask them to continually promote your brand via social media.
By building this relationship with a newly-minted influencer, you gain more earned media features and attract customers in a genuine way.
To put it simply, you get earned influence—any influencer relationship that you aren’t paying for qualifies as earned media.
Now, these folks are promoting your brand for nada. Do you owe them anything in return?
Technically, no. But it helps to show appreciation, especially if you want them to continue featuring your brand.
Engage with their posts or thank them with a personal DM. Sometimes a simple thank you will suffice, but discounts and the occasional freebie won’t hurt, either.
The bottom line
Sure, we love paid media strategies. But earned media should have a special place in your marketing strategy, too.
Keep in mind that earned media is a long-term approach. You’ll need to consistently pitch yourself and put your products out there to earn badass features over time.
But when you put in the work, you’ll see a huge ROI for just pennies. Be deliberate, strategic, and consistent to earn more features and get the internet talking about your product.
Of course, pitching influencers and bloggers isn’t always a walk in the park.
If you need quick access to vetted, reliable digital tastemakers, tap into the Trend network. We help brands automate the influencer marketing process, getting you more mentions and features in less time.