Digital marketing is becoming an industry that requires knowledge and mastery of several skills: content creation and marketing, SEO and digital PR. An earned media campaign brings together all three of these elements in a way that can maximize both short- and long-term benefits.
When an earned media campaign goes well, you can expect to see an increase in your web traffic, real social media buzz, online community growth and brand awareness. But although data is an integral part of executing an earned media campaign, it’s still more art than science, more staff power than statistics.
And people can screw up. Social media posts can get lost in translation, audiences can be misread and content can be tone-deaf. Even the most carefully planned earned media campaigns can turn sour if one element is off. So, how can you avoid the pitfalls of earned media? What steps can you take to make sure your campaigns go as smoothly as possible?
Listen, listen, listen
One of the most important goals of an earned media campaign is online community building. That means you’ll need to spend time on both cultivating your audience and engaging them to determine what kinds of information they need from you.
This seems easy, but it isn’t; engaging an audience isn’t as simple as handing over your social media accounts to an intern or shooting a “viral” video. It’s taking the time to research where your audience hangs out online and answering their questions. It’s forging partnerships with the thought leaders in your industry and promoting content with them. It’s staying in front of the people who want to do business with you, and giving them what they need. It’s the best way to build both audience engagement and brand awareness.
Invest in social media training
As we’ve learned recently from an article on Valleywag about a misunderstanding between an event venue and Pando Daily founder Sarah Lacy, brand awareness can cut both ways. The digital marketplace relies on information that takes just moments to be posted and shared—and that means a reputation that took years to build could be torn down in hours. Every person who works for your organization represents your brand, so take the time to teach them how your brand should be represented online.
It doesn’t require spending a lot of money, but it will mean you need to invest time. Designate staff members to handle your social media and to answer email inquiries promptly, keep track of brand mentions you receive across the Internet, and be honest with your audience. Ensuring that your employees all know how the brand should be presented online can save you both time and business.
Do earned media the right way
Earned media isn’t owned media—it’s not placing content on sites you own. And it’s not buying coverage, either. That’s paid media—and trying to pawn off paid media as earned isn’t just dishonest, it can get you penalized by Google.
Earned media success isn’t instant; it takes time. If you’re planning to launch an earned media campaign, learn how to do it well. Our Inbound Marketer’s Guide to Earned Media details the anatomy of the earned media process, how it can help your brand gain customer benefits, and where earned media’s going in the future.
Digital marketing is harder than it looks, and that’s just one of the reasons why the Internet is cluttered with so many different types of advertising. But committing to an earned media strategy can give your brand the kind of exposure it needs to stay competitive both in the short and long term—and that can work wonders for your bottom line.