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COMMBLOGERATE

You cannot not communicate

Companies can pay for expensive airtime, billboards, and radio spots, but the message that perhaps speaks the loudest does not have a price.

This is earned media, the message of your customers. Their opinions can’t be bought or sold. Their motives cannot be questioned and their thoughts cannot be tamed.

To better understand what earned media is, let’s first look at the alternatives, paid and owned media.

Paid media is the traditional ad we are used to seeing. This can be anything from a commercial on TV to an ad in a magazine. The message is painstakingly researched and planned to achieve the desired effect among its audiences. It is subject to clutter and is often not viewed with much credibility.

Owned media is the use of channels such as Facebook and Twitter by the company. This specifically refers to their pages and accounts. While this method does create a means of communication, it is still controlled by the company.

Earned media consists of the opinions customers. I can be positive or negative and can not be controlled by the company in any way whatsoever.

This virtual lack of control can be highly intimidating for companies. It is impossible to predict what sort of opinion a customer will share and what effect that will have on potential buyers. There is always the risk that negative experiences will surface. This irrepressible voice is what makes earned media so credible, and in turn, so valuable.

The trust associated with open dialogue is undeniable and cannot be matched by the efforts of paid or owned forms of media.

In a recent article in AdAge, it is reported that 92% of customers trust word-of-mouth, while only 42% trust online ads. This word-of-mouth comes in many forms and in the age of social media, it is almost impossible to avoid.

Satisfied customers can instantly become brand advocates via a simple tweet on Twitter or “like” on Facebook. Consumers can rate their experience on sites like Amazon, review restaurants with Yelp! like apps, and recommend products to thousands of people in a matter of seconds.

With its incredible reach and power, it is important for companies to embrace earned media.

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