Not all social media is created equal. For instance, did you know that 70% of the conversations about your brand occur away from your owned channels?
When analyzing your social share of voice, it’s crucial to include all conversation types — earned, owned, AND paid. What do we mean by this?
- Owned is what people say TO you.
- Earned is what people say ABOUT you.
- Paid is what people say and do in response to your social ads.
All three of these combine to create a full picture of your brand’s social media presence. If you’re missing visibility into any one of these three, then you’re making business decisions based on only a fraction of the information.
Why Earned Social Media Matters
For most consumers, the purpose of social media is for them to connect with each other — not with brands. At the end of the day, people trust people. According to Forrester, 67% of consumers trust brand or product recommendations from friends or family compared with only 27% who trust brand-sponsored content.
What that means for brands is that what everyday consumers are saying on social media impacts your business far more than what your fans and followers are saying on your owned channels. Owned social media conversations are largely driven by your branded content and not a good reflection of the market, but earned social media conversations are truly organic and driven by crowdculture.
Earned social is:
- Where you discover emerging trends and get a clear picture of brand health
- 40% more likely to spur consumers to action than owned
- Able to deliver 4x the brand lift over owned content
How to Use Earned Social Media In Your Marketing
1. Create better owned content.
The best content in a post-digital world is authentic, helpful, and most of all, laser-focused on the customer. The only way to create customer-first content is to take a listen-first approach to content creation.
There’s nothing worse on social media than a tone-deaf brand inserting itself where it’s not wanted. Strategic listening to earned social media is the key to learning what your customers need and how they’re communicating that need. You can then use those insights to deliver messages that resonate using the language that your customers are using. It’s much better to join an organic conversation than it is to try to force one that rings as fake.
2. Discover emerging trends.
More often than not, the conversation taking place on earned social media is wholly different than what is being discussed on owned channels. Sometimes these conversations are positive, user-generated content that you’ll want to amplify; other times, these conversations are negative toward your brand and you’ll want to launch into risk mitigation strategies. Either way, you want to know what’s going on in your market, and the best way to do that is to monitor earned social media like a hawk.
For more on spotting different types of social media trends, read this.
3. Assess your owned social media more accurately.
Most brands know how important it is to benchmark and track the performance of their owned channels. That data is just data, however, until it’s taken out of its owned social media vacuum and put into context with earned social media. For instance:
- Are your customers talking about the new product you’re launching, or is an older product having a nostalgic moment?
- Is your new social good initiative resonating with your target audience beyond your owned channels, or is your message stuck in your bubble?
- Are you even present on the social networks your customers are most likely to use?
Looking at earned and owned social media together can help you answer questions like these and optimize your owned channels to better match what you’re seeing on earned.
4. Increase paid social media efficiency.
Brand engagement increases an average of 28% when users are exposed to a combination of user created product videos and professional content. People naturally feel more attachment to content that is created by their peers.
Earned social media data is gold for a social media advertiser. Why guess the age, gender, and income of your best-fit audience when you can know based on historical data? Even more valuable is learning how your customers tick from real conversations. Brands succeed when their messages are two-way, tapping into the culture around them delivering authentic stories that resonate.
Want to learn more about improving your paid social strategy? Download the Ultimate Guide to Facebook and Instagram Advertising.
5. Find new influencers and advocates.
Did you know that 96% of the people that discuss brands online don’t follow those brands’ owned channels? Some of your best influencers and advocates are probably not yet connected to your brand officially, but monitoring your earned media can help you find them and build relationships with them. Modern influencers come from all walks of life (they’re not all celebrities), and targeted social listening queries can help you pull in the most relevant influencers.
For more on running effective influencer marketing campaigns, read this post.
Listen-First Social Media Wins
Today’s audiences don’t engage with canned messages pushed out from brands. Take advantage of the world’s largest focus group — social media — to add context, authenticity, and much-needed consumer trust to your social media marketing initiatives