Paid, Earned, or Owned Media: Which is More Important?

We were asked to discuss whether paid, owned or earned media is more important than others in a Social Media plan after reading this article by Daniel Newman, author of “The Millennial CEO“, and an expert on social influence and ROI.

But first, what exactly are they?

Here’s the quick’n’dirty:

Paid: Content that your business or organization pays to have placed in front of your target audience: whether it be sponsored social media posts, or banners/advertisements on websites that your target audience frequents (Facebook, Amazon, etc.)

Owned: Any type of content that your business/organization owns the rights to: articles, blogs, eBooks, podcasts, etc. This type of content is often offered to a target audience to demonstrate the knowledge and klout that a business/organization has.

Earned: Content shared by your customers, whether it’s written by you and then shared by the customer, or written solely by the customer. Keep in mind, though: this can be wonderful or fatal. But with strong paid and owned media, earned media can be a great reward from your customers.

With that being said, which do you think is most important? My belief is that all three elements are important in order to have a strong social media plan.

Think, for a second, how your social media plan would be without paid media: Your content would only be circulated around your current customer base, relying on your customers to reach new leads for you. Paid media allows you to reach new leads and potentially convert them into consumers.

Now, what if you didn’t have owned media? You wouldn’t be building trust and brand reputation. How will your target audience know what services or products you can provide? How do they know you have the knowledge to back up these products or services?

Finally, what if you had no earned media? Without consumer generated content, your organization would seem as if it had no customers. Consumers often rely on reviews and testimonials from others to make purchasing decisions, so it is crucial that your brand/organization have advocates. Furthermore, make it easy for your brand advocates by providing excellent and intriguing content (a.k.a: Owned media) that they might want to share with their network.

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