Deciphering the Big Three: Paid, Owned and Earned Media

Sometimes us folks at online marketing agencies get so caught up in our own lingo that we often forget how to break it down for who we are working for: our clients! An online strategy plan for a client in the restaurant industry could have no idea what the difference is between owned and earned media and how they feed off of each other.

As a refresher and to help with communication when pitching an online social strategy, refer to the three explanations below when explaining why your client needs your services to conquer paid, owned and earned media.

Paid: Bottom line, if you are spending money from a client’s budget for a social strategy, coin it paid media. Paid media is excellent because you can control the content you distribute on different social channels to anyone online. Some examples of paid media include sponsored or promoted ads through Twitter, Facebook ads or pay per click campaigns. Using one or several paid media online strategies could help to drive traffic to a client’s website, assist in promoting a specific product or help to initiate conversations about the brand in general.

Owned: Owned media is created and controlled by the brand in different online channels such as a company website, LinkedIn or other social networks and newsletters. Like paid media, the content is controlled and distributed by the social media manager. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is critical for the owned media component. Content and links within the different channels for a brand should have strong keywords so the brand appears in Google or higher up in page rankings.

Earned: Earned media can most easily be described to clients as online word of mouth. Retweets, mentions, tags, shares, reviews and recommendations from fans mentioning a brand is earned media. This social strategy is where the client’s fans or customers play such a dominant role. Positive, or negative, customer shared publicity online is what potential customers will notice and consider first when searching out the brand. There is no control over what customers say online, however, there is control in how you respond as the social media manager for the client, which intertwines with the owned media aspect.

Paid, owned and earned media graph

It’s imperative to explain to your client, or potential client, that these three entities work together, not alone. For a more visual learner, take a look at the graph above from the view from here to fully understand how The Big Three work together.

Want to chat more about how The Big Three intersect when developing an online strategy? Leave a comment below!