What is Earned Media and How to Use It to Grow Business

Businesses inevitably need the support of media for success. Among many types of media, Earned media is the media that your business gains naturally and often more important than others.

In digital marketing terms, media can be defined as a way of reaching a number of audiences. Depending on the nature of control, ownership, and payment, media may be of three kinds.

These are ‘owned media’, ‘paid media’ and ‘earned media’.

Owned media is the media that you own and control.

Paid media is the form of media that you directly pay for.

But earned media is quite different from these two types of media forms.

For example, your customers may tell others about your product and thus you can get an exclusive coverage without paying or having to manage anything.

This word of mouth is a simple example of earned media.

In this era of diversified media, it is not wise to remain confined to the room of a single form of media.

Owned or paid media may work fine, but studies reveal that ‘word of mouth’ plays a more effective role in generating sales.

Let’s take a closer look at what ‘earned media’ is and how to use it to grow your business, along with the importance of the media form.

What is earned media

Earned media refers to the media exposure or publicity which is earned through referrals or word of mouth. You neither have control over this type of media nor own it.

For example, one of your video campaigns went viral on youtube.

People shared your video on their own channels or on other social media.

This is earned media.

Customers may be very satisfied with your service or content and share it with others.

Or, any person or organization may publish a review of your service.

In these cases, you don’t play the role directly.

You don’t pay for these types of publicity, nor you can control it directly.

This is called earned media.

You indeed gain it through an organic, natural process.

Earned media has some distinctive characteristics which may help us have a better idea of the term.

The ideal characteristics of earned media are as follows:

  1. You do not own earned media.
  2. You do not have direct control over it.
  3. It happens spontaneously. (But you can influence it to some extent)
  4. You can not actively spend money to gain such media exposure.
  5. You don’t do anything directly for gaining earned media coverage, rather a third party does it being motivated by your service or content.

What Other Media Options You Have:

Paid media and owned media are your other options. To clarify, paid media is the media advertisement you get for the money.

It may be on websites which you don’t own, on social media etc.

Social media ads have been very popular these days for the rapid growth in the number of social media users.

Another option, owned media, is your business’s own media.

Your business website, Youtube channel, Facebook page, LinkedIn profile etc. are some of the owned media examples.

You publish content actively on these platforms and have full control of such media.

It does not need clarification that you have to bear the expense of these media forms.

Here you can enjoy the freedom of publishing content in the way you want.

Misconceptions Around Earned Media:

Misconception 1: You can earn it by paying for it (that is paid media).
Paid online campaigns or any other paid media cannot be regarded as earned media.

Misconception 2: You have control over this (that is owned media).
You can control the website of your company or the advertisement, which you publish on any platform.

But you don’t have control over this type of media.

Misconception 3: You own it.
Earned media is not owned by a business itself.

Misconception 4: You can earn it with direct effort.
Earned media can’t be achieved through direct effort. Rather, it’s earned through a natural process.

Total performance of your business will define your earned media.

Misconception 5: You have nothing to do with earned media.
Though a business can’t control earned media, it can gear it up in different indirect ways.

Earned vs. Paid vs. Other Media:

1. Earned media is scalable paid is not much and paid media can put strain on your expense

2. Earned media has high ROI in the long run, where paid and other media has relatively low ROI

How important earned media is and how it helps grow your business:

1. It helps defines your brand: Earned media defines your brand. In paid media, you tell something to need your need.

It is also true in case of owned media. But earned media is totally different while considering your effort.

So it really defines your business on the market.

People talk about your brand and it gets organic definition quite automatically.

2. It’s proportional to your online reputation: Potential customers usually trust earned media for different reasons.

For instance, you (the business) don’t have control over this type of media, you don’t pay for it, you achieve it naturally or organically.

So earned media plays a vital role in building trust and reputation among the potential customers.

3. Earned media is long lasting: You don’t do anything directly to make people say something about your brand.

People themselves talk about your brand. Thus it earns long lasting effect and it helps your business grow organically.

4. Your competitor can not steal it from you: Your competitor can not steal it from you as it’s quite natural.

It’s not you who are talking about the brand. General people are doing so being motivated by your awesome service or any other excellent experience they get from you.

It created firm trust among your customers, which can’t be stolen by your competitor.

5. You usually get it free of direct cost: You don’t pay anything directly to gain earned media.

You rather earn it organically with your impressive service.

6. It brings other people’s audience: Since people talk about your business to people in their network, they bring them to you.

Their audiences might be strange to you or your business, but you get them without direct effort.

How to Create Earned Media:

Though you may not control earned media directly, you can do so from behind.

You can do it in various ways.

Here, you have to combine earned media with other forms of media to get most out of it. Let’s discuss some effective ways of making earned media:

1. Creating exciting content: The most important thing in gaining earned media is to create exciting content.

Tell the best and convincing sides of your business through the content.

But it may also contain exciting things that do not directly say about the best sides of your business.

Then the content has to be published on social media in view of the fact that social media content is easily-sharable.

Moreover, in today’s reality, social media is the discussion table.

If you can motivate social media users through your content, they will share it, discuss it with others, and give referrals for buying your service.

And this is earned media–word of mouth, referrals, shares, mentions, discussions with others through social media etc.

Let’s have an example of exciting content which motivated a large number of people to share.

An Indian company named ‘TE-A-ME’ sent 6 thousand green tea bags to Trump for ‘cleansing his mind’.

The company made an exciting video of that event and published it online with ‘TeaForTrump’ hashtag.

It received 3.1 million views, 43 thousand shares, and 37 thousand likes on Facebook.

It has been viewed 1.4 million times on Youtube. The company has gained earned media through this exciting video.

Here are some tools/services that you can use to generate content:

A. Post Planner.

B. Post-joint.

C. BloogerLinkUp.

2. Influencer Marketing: If you pay influencers for media coverage, then it will not be considered as earned media, rather it is paid media.

But you can influence the influencers indirectly.

You can, for instance, run an exceptional campaign, make an exciting offer.

Influencers will be motivated by these efforts to say something about your service.

Setting proper strategy to improve the service to get positive reviews is very important.

Positive reviews are considered to be valuable earned media as it helps a lot grow business by motivating prospects to buy service.

It boasts long-lasting reputation.

Cultivating the influencers would result in achievement of earned media.

At first, you have to find out the influencers of the particular industry you are doing business in.

Then learn what they publish, where they publish and who their audiences are.

It is more important to know what specific aspects of the particular industry attracts the influencers.

How they interact with the audience is also considered important.

Then it is time to put up a strategy on how to engage with them.

Here are some tools/services that you can use for your Influencer Marketing project:

A. BuzzStream.

B. NinjaOutreach.

C. SeoQuack.

D. Tracckr.

E. FindYourInfluence.

F. App Hunter


3. Participating in trade events: A B2B study by Content Marketing Institute showed, 81% of marketers use live events as a tactic in their content marketing strategy, and 75% of users rate them as effective.

Participating in trade events, where your audiences attend, will boost the chance that people will talk about your business.

Thus you may make earned media.

Here is some marketing event-related news:

A. Marketing Conference Guide.

B. Digital Marketing Conference.

C. Case for and Against Conference.

4. Maintaining relationships and providing awesome experience: Maintain and strengthen relationships with people who are talking about your business, sharing your content or mentioning your brand.

A continuous relationship will enhance their effort and thereby your earned media will be enriched.

Give impressive product experience to the customers, which in turn, will motivate them to talk about your service.

In this way, you will gain earned media.

5. Using paid media and owned media properly: Well-planned, a combined use of paid media and owned media will help a business gain earned media.

It may be considered the best ever way to create earned media and thereby grow the business by combining all three media forms in an efficient way.

How will people talk about your product or service if they don’t even know about it?

So you have to make sure that you have used paid media and owned media properly to have expected earned media.

LinkedIn sponsored updates and promoted tweets can be considered as ways of earning earned media.

6. Media monitoring, having a clear image of your earned media: Media monitoring has been very important in this age of social media marketing.

Unless you do it, you can not get the proper image of your earned media.

So it is very important to monitor media and analyze the findings.

It will help you set your strategy of how to get more impact.

You can get it done by your employees or on your own (if your business has not grown yet).

Yet, if you own a large business and have the ability to spend an extra penny for it, then you may think of hiring media monitoring experts online.

These tools will help you stay ahead of this game.

7. Earning positive customer review: Your customers’ love for your product or service will naturally provoke them to post online reviews on different platforms.

These positive reviews will motivate others to buy your product or service or at least think positive about your brand.

So it is very wise to set proper strategy to earn positive reviews from customers.

8. Limited paid activities: Some paid activities will help get earned media.

But you have to do it very carefully and within a certain limit.

Guest posting can be a limited paid activity to gain some exposure.

Writing something on QA platforms like Reddit or Quora will help you gain attention.

You can talk about the industry you are doing business in.

In doing so, say something positive indirectly about your brand.

You have to maintain a limit while saying about your own business.

How to use your earned media to grow business:

Earned media is a valuable asset to your business.

Utilization of this media will certainly help grow your business. You can do this in various ways like:

  1. Use them in your promotional emails: Use your earned media in your promotional emails. This will certainly add value to your email content.
  2. Showcase them on the product pricing page: Pricing page, where prospects would think of paying for your service, is the perfect place to show your earned media on.
  3. Republish your earned media (mentions) on your owned and paid media: Republishing earned media on the owned and paid media will make you go ahead in generating leads. You may republish earned media on your business’s newsletter, website, social media etc. or on any paid media like social media ads.
  4. Create explaining video and insert your earned media into it: Create explaining video and insert your earned media into it to gain more leads
  5. Retarget the visitor and show them earned media enriched adverts: Retargeting and remarketing are proven effective in online marketing. To get the most out of your earned media, retarget the visitors and show them adverts enriched with earned media.

In this golden era of online marketing, earned media is vital for your business.

Without gaining earned media to some extent, you will just lag behind in the competition.

The above discussion will help you think in the appropriate way on how to set effective strategy to gain earned media and use it in growing your business.

And, of course, it will keep you ahead in the competition.

Tarek Dinaji

Tarek Dinaji Inbound Marketing and Website SEO Acquisition Expert. Feel free to send him an email at tarek@contentmarketo.com or contact on Twitter

5 thoughts to “What is Earned Media and How to Use It to Grow Business”

  1. Solid list of influencer marketing tools but hasn’t Outreachr been broken for a while now? Also I’m surprised to see LinkHunter not mentioned.

    1. Thank you very much Jeff for taking your time to comment.
      I was aware that inkebee was down didn’t knew about outreachr.
      Thanks again for correcting me. I have added link hunter to the list.

Comments are closed.