Amplifying your content with a paid, earned and owned media strategy
Because it’s not good enough to just create content, you need to promote it too.
We constantly hear that content is king. Over and over we hear about the importance of content, how to create 10x content and why it’s essential for brands.
But more and more content is going completely unnoticed. Beckon found that branded content creation is up 300% year on year, but only 5% of that content is actually engaged with.
Moz and Buzzsumo’s study of over 1m pieces of content found that over 50% have less than two Facebook interactions.
Less than two interactions! Isn’t that crazy? That means that all your hours spent planning, creating and refining your content is basically wasted. The only people that read your content are search engines.
Content amplification is something that is missing from a lot of content marketing plans. Without the correct promotional strategy, you might as well just sit at your desk and twiddle your thumbs – it’ll be just as effective.
So I’m here to explain why you need to utilise parts of your (hopefully already pre-existing) paid, earned and owned media strategy for content amplification.
What is paid, earned and owned media?
If you’re not familiar with what paid, earned and owned media is, there is a comprehensive Smart Insights article here that you can read to get up to speed.
I’m going to quickly run over what each one is below, just for clarity.
The clue is in the name here. Paid media is any media that you have paid for.
This includes PPC, display ads, and any paid social activity.
Earned media is any online coverage that you obtain through reputation or the quality of your content.
Therefore, earned media includes mentions, shares, retweets, reposts, regrams, and reviews.
Owned media is defined as any channel that you own and have full control over.
This means that owned media includes your website, mobile site, blog, and social media channels.
How do they work together?
Typically, different departments will be responsible for different parts of the paid, earned and owned media strategy. You can even have separate teams working on the same section of the strategy.
For example, biddable departments will look after the paid media, whereas SEO typically covers owned. You can also have SEO and social working on owned, and social and biddable working on paid.
Therefore, this is the point where an integrated strategy really comes into play.
By having a properly integrated strategy, you can pull together all the different parts of an earned, paid and owned media strategy and really have them work together.
An integrated strategy
Whilst you are going through all the stages of content marketing, you should be thinking about each type of media at every stage of the cycle. This process is completely cyclical, but you will typically start at planning.
Whilst planning out your content, you should already be thinking about how it will work for earned media. This is the hardest of the three to successfully maintain and plan for, so considering it early is key.
You should be looking to create content that will resonate with your audience but is also very shareable. Make sure that you’re using data to really confirm your ideas, don’t just go with your gut.
The key to good earned media is shareable content. Buzzsumo has a great guide on how to create shareable content, and it is a brilliant planning tool to use to discover what’s working in your vertical.
Whilst planning, you also need to think about where on your properties the content will sit, to make the most of your owned media. What channels will you distribute it on? Purely the main site, or via social media as well?
Think about your paid media too. If you’ve already got paid media activity planned, is there some way that your content marketing can support this? If you’re running TV ads, can you do behind-the-scenes footage? What about an interview with the director or actors?
Planning is all too often a stage that is either rushed or completely glossed over. There’s a reason my high school teacher repeatedly said: “those who fail to plan, plan to fail.”
As with planning, you need to really consider your earned media whilst developing your content.
If you’re creating a video, is it a shareable size? Are there parts that you can trim down and circulate on social media? Will you be able to create any GIFs off the back of this?
If you’re creating written content there are obviously different things to consider. Is the content engaging? Are there actionable insights or facts that are easy to share?
This is the age of social media, and anything you can do to help your content resonate and make the transition into earned media is beneficial.
During the creation stage, you should also be thinking about the messaging that will go alongside the paid activity to promote your content.
Owned media is naturally the first point of call when it comes to promotion. Most content is promoted in some way on the site, as well as on social channels. But this is rarely enough promotion to drive a substantial level of traffic back to the site and to the content.
Typically, this will be where people start to consider paid and earned media. But often, if paid and earned were not considered during the development and creation phase, it can mean that the content won’t succeed.
If you followed the earlier advice and thought about how to structure your content to get likes and shares, you’d think that you should be doing well with your earned media.
However, often simply creating shareable content isn’t enough to amplify it on social media. You will need to overlay some paid media spend in order to really boost how many shares and likes you can realistically get. This is especially true for SMEs.
The reality is that you have to pump money into social now to get the full value, especially Facebook. However, this doesn’t have to bankrupt you. We’ve seen effective Facebook ads run on as little as £5. Good news for SMEs!
If we look at the other networks, Pinterest is also useful, and Instagram is a must for brands looking to target millennials or a younger demographic. But steer clear of Twitter for the moment, its ads aren’t very effective and tend to be quite expensive.
If you’re not analysing your content then really what are we even doing here? Just go home.
Luckily, most of us are. When analysing your content, you need to keep each of the three media types in mind. Considering earned, paid and owned whilst analysing helps to drive better results in the next stages of the cycle.
When looking at your paid media spend, think about how you could have done it differently. Did you fully optimise your targeting settings to the best of your ability? Could they have been tweaked a bit? Did you run any A/B testing?
One of the best features of paid media is the ability to run testing. You should always be testing your messaging, as this can really help you when it comes to earned media. If you know what kind of messaging resonates with your audience, you should use it in future headlines and social media messaging to help increase engagement.
When analysing your earned media, Facebook or Twitter Analytics will really come in helpful.
It’s also useful to look at your owned media. Splitting out the channels in Google Analytics can help you see where exactly your traffic is coming from, and where it’s going after.
All these insights should be collected and used once you’re ready to start the process all over again.
As you run through the content marketing cycle over and over, you should be able to not only streamline the process but also optimise more effectively. Each time you run through the cycle, you should learn, measure and create faster. Practice makes perfect after all.
However, all industries (and all brands) will be different. But keeping paid, earned and owned media in your mind at all stages of the content cycle will really help you amplify your content to the best of its capability.