In my recent post, “Four Steps To Growing Your Audience & Finding New Customers,” I talked about creating your Dream 100 based on where your target audience is and who they’re following. Once you build relationships with these individuals, organizations and/or companies, you can identify collaborations to help gain exposure to their audience. This, combined with traditional public relations and/or coverage in media outlets, combine to form what is known as earned media.
It is the kind of attention and recognition your business receives organically, without paid advertising. In this edition of “Scaling With Shannon,” let’s explore the significance of earned media, various strategies to gain it, and offer tips for small businesses just starting out on their journey.
Understanding Earned Media
Earned media is the result of other people, organizations, or media outlets talking about or sharing content related to your business. It’s the digital equivalent of word-of-mouth marketing, and it holds immense value because it’s often viewed as more trustworthy and authentic than paid advertising.
The most powerful executions of earned media directly reach your target audience, which is why a deep understanding of your WHO and your Dream 100 are so important. Some common forms of earned media include social media mentions, online reviews, press coverage and user-generated content.
Why Earned Media Matters
Credibility and Trust: Earned media lends to your brand credibility and trustworthiness because it comes from independent sources. People tend to trust recommendations and reviews from friends, influencers, trade associations or reputable publications.
Cost-Effectiveness: Unlike paid advertising, which requires a budget, earned media doesn’t directly cost you anything. It’s the result of your brand’s reputation and the quality of your products or services.
Wider Reach: Earned media can potentially reach a broader audience than your existing customer base. When others share your content or talk about your brand, you gain exposure to their networks. Be sure to return the favor to others in your Dream 100 to increase your likelihood of gaining additional exposure.
Strategies To Gain Earned Media
Beyond leveraging your Dream 100, let’s explore some effective strategies to help your business gain earned media:
Create Remarkable Content: Produce high-quality, valuable content that resonates with your target audience. Whether it’s blog posts, videos, infographics or social media updates, compelling content is more likely to be shared and talked about.
Encourage User-Generated Content: Encourage your customers to share their experiences with your products or services on social media or review platforms. You can offer incentives or create campaigns that motivate them to create content related to your brand. Be sure to share this content with your audience regularly.
Connect With Local Media and/or Trade Associations: For small businesses, local media outlets and/or relevant trade associations can be an excellent source of earned media. Reach out to local newspapers, magazines and bloggers to pitch stories or offer to share your expertise.
Leverage Social Media: Engage with your audience on social media platforms. Respond to comments, ask questions, and create shareable content that encourages your followers to talk about your brand.
Build Relationships: If you’re just getting started with earned media, recognize that building relationships takes time, and remember to serve before you sell. How can you help that individual or organization? How can you serve or add value to their audience? Then, you can pursue your strategy to gain exposure of your message to their audiences. Be sure to monitor regularly social media, review sites and other online platforms for mentions of your brand. Respond promptly and professionally to both positive and negative feedback.
Measure Your Results: Finally, as with all of marketing, remember to measure your results. Track the impact of your earned media efforts and Dream 100 outreach. Monitor metrics such as your website traffic by source, social media engagement, and sales conversions to understand what’s working and what needs improvement.
Earned media can be a game-changer for businesses looking to establish their presence and build trust with their audience. By creating valuable content, cultivating relationships and staying engaged with your community, you can unlock the power of earned media and drive growth for your business, even with limited resources. Remember, authenticity, consistency and a genuine passion for your brand are key ingredients for earning positive attention and recognition in the digital landscape.