Every successful brand is rooted in an effective digital media strategy. A robust strategy capable of adapting to the online landscape should include three different types of digital media. These are paid, earned and owned. Each serves its own purpose, and depending on your business and industry, will carry a different weight.
It’s a balancing act. Just because one or two media types might be more prominent at any one point in time, does not mean that the rest are unimportant, nor that the mix of prominent media won’t change later down the track.
Let’s start with the most self-explanatory.
You Have to Spend Money to Make Money
Paid media is exactly that. Media that you have paid a platform to have out in the world advertising your business and its products or services. Speaking strictly in an online sense, paid media normally takes the shape of Google search ads, social media ads, paid influencers, and display ads.
This is generally the media type that delivers results fastest, simply because it’s the most direct. It is also one of the most easily controlled media, as there are built-in systems to monitor and change campaigns where needed. These benefits however are what make paid media the most expensive to deliver.
You Get What You Give
Earned media really lends itself to the nature of social media. It largely encompasses customer engagement in any form that is not as a result of paid services.
This can include comments and likes on your posts, subsequent reposts, and general exposure to your business from external sources, such as blogs and reviews. Earned media acts natively on your behalf, and its virality means it has the potential to snowball into great publicity for your brand. This may become cyclical, and your next paid campaign may even come as a result of previous earned media, such as a TikTok trend.
Content that has been developed for your brand, and that is possible to produce without having to pay for it to be online, is your owned media. Your brand’s website is a great example. Other content such as your own blog posts and social media accounts are also owned media. These are all media that could be written, or hosted, or run by yourself, and don’t require platform intervention, thereby making it a cost-effective option.
Consistency is key with owned media, since while it may not always have the highest engagement rate, it is a staple of your content production that your brand can fall back on – and largely for free. You also have a higher degree of control than earned media, meaning you have the ability to give your tick of approval on all of the content that goes out. The more consistent the output of owned media, the more flow-on effect this content will have in engaging current and potential customers.
For example, by having a visible online presence on social media platforms you encourage customer engagement. Or you can utilise blog posts to establish your position as a thought-leader within your industry. Generally, there’s no such thing as too much owned media however it’s important to consider an appropriate balance between quantity and quality.
Media Types and Content Pillars
Paid and owned media both tie in very closely with your content pillars, and work together to form part of your brand’s media strategy. Knowing what to write about, and what tone to write in will help guide your content toward the right audience when you make your selection of media.
Earned media is of course less easily controlled. But this doesn’t mean it can’t be monitored. Certainly, a brand should be aware of the type of exposure it gets in the zeitgeist – both positive and negative. Earned media is a sure way to measure whether public opinion aligns with the goals and objectives of your brand, and can inform the voice and tone of your paid and owned media going forward.
Need a refresher on the importance of content pillars? Read more here.
Cogs in the Machine
Each type of media plays its own part in the larger media strategy for your brand, ensuring a versatile and malleable means of engaging your audience, maximising lead generation. A flexible strategy that is frequently reviewed will make for an adaptable brand when online trends can be difficult to predict.
If you’re unsure how to divide your earned, paid and owned media, and need help developing an effective media strategy for your brand, reach out to SOAK Creative to get started today.