Using Owned and Earned Media to Build Brand Credibility

Building brand awareness, trust, and community is becoming increasingly difficult in the age of constant digital content. Every time you head over to LinkedIn to read up on industry trends or run a quick Google search for content strategy ideas, you get served ad after ad influenced by algorithms, your digital history, and, essentially, how much of their budget a company is willing to put toward paid advertising. 

The constant churn of digital content can make it hard to know what to buy, which brands to follow, and who to trust. If your brand is running into issues from an oversaturated content market, you’re not alone—and you’re also not out of luck. 

One of the most effective tools in your marketing strategy artillery? Using your content strategy to create and leverage earned media.   

Owned media vs. earned media  

Put simply, owned media is content you create and control, while earned media is content others create about you. But the specifics of what kind of content that might entail and how it can be used to your advantage—along with why you should be using owned and earned media in tandem—can be a little less than simple.  

Owned media

Owned media is any marketing content that your brand creates, owns, and publishes.  

Examples include:  

  • Web and blog content  
  • Social media posts 
  • YouTube videos 
  • Email campaigns 
  • Direct mail 

Owned media is incredibly effective in your content strategy. Since it is typically content that you have control over—meaning you choose where and when it’s published—you can always create more of it with the goal of reaching your audience in an organic way. 

Earned media

Earned media is any content that mentions your company online—but it doesn’t come from you. This can include mentions from fans, influencers, and customers that share content about your products or services on their own platforms.  

Examples include:  

  • Social media posts recommending your product, business, or service 
  • Shares, retweets, or comments on your social media comment 
  • Reviews on sites such as Google, Yelp, or Amazon 
  • Influencer marketing 
  • Unsponsored blogs promoting your products or services 
  • Radio and media coverage discussing your product or service 

Earned media can also be called free or word-of-mouth marketing. The result of earned media is the credibility it builds for your brand: potential customers will see that your brand is legitimate and trusted, and they’ll conclude that they should also employ your services or buy your products.  

Tracking earned media value (EMV) 

While the ROI of organic and paid media are straightforward to track, earned media is a bit tougher to assign monetary value, or earned media value (EMV) to.  

EMV is best used to track how much revenue third-party posts bring in for your social media strategy. Any time someone creates content that mentions your brand, the EMV metric helps you track the value of that content.   

To effectively track your comprehensive marketing strategy’s ROI, you also need to be measuring your earned media value. And though there isn’t a hard and fast way to do this, Clearview Social has a few ideas on how you can start.  

How earned and owned media fit into your marketing strategy 

Leveraging many types of content across different platforms is crucial to the success of your marketing efforts. After all, our attention spans are increasingly short in today’s oversaturated market, so leaving a lasting impression often requires a bit of extra effort.  

When your audience sees your brand’s content repeated on various platforms, posts, and reviews, they’re much more likely to remember it and come back as customers or clients. In short: a multi-channel strategy amplifies your brand. 

Using each type of media alone has its benefits, but combining them into a holistic marketing strategy is where you’ll get the maximum results. Let’s take a look at what each can do on its own, and how combining them can serve your brand.  

Benefits of owned media 

Owned media is a critical component of any company’s business success. It helps businesses build their brands, appeal to their audiences, and develop authority and thought leadership on online platforms. It’s impactful because it gives companies:  

  • Control. Businesses have creative control of the content as well as control over who sees the materials.  
  • Permanence. Owned content doesn’t go away, as it lives on the channels it was posted on. It can also be tweaked and modified as needed, allowing brands to keep their content relevant, fresh, and appealing to new audiences.  
  • Reach. Organic media can be leveraged to reach new and existing audiences by building a following or using keywords and meta tags to help SEO. 
  • Cost-effective marketing solutions. Most platforms used for owned media are free, so you can build relationships with your customers without paying for the exposure.  

Benefits of earned media 

When you work toward implementing and measuring earned media, you reap these benefits:  

  • Expanded brand awareness. People are more likely to engage with a post from a third-party source than with your company directly, which means you get to leverage your networks’ networks. 
  • Increased credibility. Since prospects trust real people more than they trust big brands, earned media will help your brand’s trustworthiness.  
  • Assigns a dollar amount to engagement. EMV highlights the dollar amounts for engagement on your company’s platforms (which you need when you’re assessing for ROI on your marketing efforts).  

Using both owned and earned media 

Speaking of ROI—using your owned media to build earned media is the quickest way to get a return on your organic marketing investment, as earned media is organic and tangible evidence of an effective marketing campaign.  

Here are a few ways to turn owned media into earned media (and convert more customers along the way):  

  1. Use your website or social media profiles to share reviews, posts, and feedback from customers.  
  2. Encourage satisfied customers to leave reviews by sending them templates or prewritten language. 
  3. Offer incentives or promotional gifts for followers or employees who like, retweet, or share a piece of content.  
  4. Create engaging and authentic content that earns shares, comments, and retweets.  
  5. Create platforms online in which customers get the opportunity to review your products or services, leave comments, or engage in forum discussions. This could include Twitter threads, LinkedIn discussions, Facebook groups, or YouTube comments. (Bonus points if you respond to the comments or engage in discussions!) 

Without owned media, it’s difficult (and nearly impossible) to create earned media. And earned media can create the opportunity for more owned media. Instead of choosing one over the other, allow the two to work in tandem to create credibility and trustworthiness in your brand. After all, leveraging organic content is the key to increased conversions. 

Employee advocacy in earned and owned media 

Employee advocacy means encouraging employees to share thought leadership from your company and dramatically increase your brand’s visibility.   

With employee advocacy, you can leverage your owned media with your already-existing community—your employees—to turn it into earned media that extends all the way past your employees’ networks.  

Recent LinkedIn statistics reveal that a typical user has 930 connections, while company pages often have 1,000. Now, imagine if you have 50 employees and 30 of them have LinkedIn accounts. Even if only half of them share your content, the process translates to almost 14,000 views. We call this phenomenon the “spider web effect.” The more people that share your content, the bigger your reach becomes.  

That results in far more impressions and engagements than can be accomplished with organic social media alone. Leveraging your employee network is the best way to increase your reach on a budget.  

But how?  

Clearview Social can help turn your owned media into more earned media 

For almost ten years now, the team at Clearview Social has been helping companies of all sizes and industries boost their online presence through employee advocacy efforts—the easiest way to immediately boost your earned media value.  

Our employee advocacy offers accessible sharing features to maximize your online presence, including: 

  • One-click email sharing so your employees can share company social content to their personal pages in seconds. 
  • Article queue builders to easily plan out posts online. 
  • PeakTime™ AI posts for you when the majority of your target audience is online.  

Leverage your owned content into earned media and boost your social reach by requesting a free demo with Clearview Social today.