Social media is already recognized as a driving force behind ecommerce and brick and mortar sales, but some areas are more efficient than others. While advertised media has been the driving force behind social for some time, experts are now pointing to the growing field of earned media, which earns more revenue and offers more social interaction than any amount of paid media. So what is earned media and how can you get it to work for you?
Earned media is quite simply media that is earned through promotional effort rather than advertising. The concept is nothing more than idea that earned traffic is earned rather than paid for, and is usually gotten through promotions such as giveaways and incentives. For example, a restaurant offering a discount coupon code to Facebook fans is more likely to get actual sales from their Facebook, and an ecommerce store offering a free $50 coupon to a random fan who attends their tweet party gains exposure, and fans.
As an example, eBay frequently promotes their ‘Green’ section on Twitter by holding a Twitter party to talk about green products. Fans have to tag the eBay Green Team and hashtag them and follow them, and then each person who tweets at them is automatically entered into an hourly drawing for a gift certificate for as long as the event lasts. The result is usually around ten thousand generated tweets that all mention and tag the Twitter, and many of which link specific products. While it doesn’t always generate direct sales, it does generate a great deal of new content, interaction, and more exposure.
In another example, the popular fashion brand White House Black Market holds competitions on Instagram for posting photos of women wearing their clothes, tagging them, and sharing on Facebook and Twitter. The result is a huge library of women wearing their clothes, which ups promotion, increases interaction, and helps make sales because consumer photos are similar to consumer recommendations in that they drive sales, and all for the cost of a $2,500 gift certificate to the store. While a little too much of an investment for smaller businesses, it generated thousands in revenue for White House Black Market as well as numerous followers on Instragam and Facebook.
Integrating Earned Media Into Your Social Strategies
Integrating earned media into your strategy can be intimidating at first, especially if you don’t have a huge fan base. Offering smaller giveaways, deals, or incentives to customers such as $5 credit on your fifth visit, coupons, or discounts, can help to build your customer base by increasing awareness. Offering free samples and even gift certificates to influential bloggers such as through Klout Perks can help you to increase awareness and get good reviews and more buzz about your business.
Essentially earned media isn’t free, but it does net you more interested and engaged consumers who are more likely to make sales. The most common strategy is to offer an incentive in exchange for a like or follow, which you can then use to make a sale.