Marketing and PR professionals have recently gravitated towards the concept of Earned, Owned and Paid media to better explain how media coverage is generated for brands. For those unfamiliar with the difference between them, here is a quick explanation.
- Earned Media includes organic coverage about your brand on television, radio, blogs, video sites, etc, because you did something particularly newsworthy or you have a talented PR person.
- Owned Media includes your company website, corporate blog, magazine, email newsletters and so forth. You have complete control over these properties, hence the term owned.
- Paid Media refers to purchasing advertising or sponsorships to create awareness with a specific audience for a set time period or number of impressions.
To make this more relevant to Social Media, here is how the concept roughly applies to Facebook:
- Earned Media includes users who purposely became a fan of your page or who clicked the Like button on your website, shared a blog post or story about your brand on Facebook, or suggested your Page to their friends.
- Owned Media is the brand’s page and the content published by the page administrator, but not any of likes, comments or wall posts by fans (I’ll get back to this in a minute).
- Paid Media is self-explanatory and includes Facebook ads used to generate more traffic to your page in hopes of growing your fan base. Promotions or giveaways typically require a media spend as well, regardless if you are only targeting non-fans or existing fans.
While Earned, Owned and Paid Media encompass a significant amount of activity for brands on Facebook (ignoring gaming for the sake of this argument), there is a fourth type of media that is the key to understanding how to prepare your brand for being socially relevant: Shared Media.
NOTE: The above diagram is an initial sketch for an infographic about Shared Media on Facebook. We are open to feedback about additions or suggested changes – please leave comments below.
Shared Media is the documented engagement between a brand and a user where that engagement is reflected in both of their networks and not fully owned by either entity. In layman’s terms, when you like or comment on a brand’s Status Update or post on the wall of a brand’s Facebook page, a physical record of your action now exists on both the brand’s Page and your personal Profile. The brand doesn’t exclusively own the content, nor do you. The content is partially owned and partially earned. Since that gets a little confusing, it’s better to think of that content as now being Shared Media.
Why is this important?
When a Facebook fan comments on a brand’s Status Update, several hundred friends are updated of this action via their news feed. This is potentially good or bad. If they Liked the Status Update or posted a favorable comment, this is good news as these simple actions are a form of word of mouth marketing to their networks. In a perfect world, their friends didn’t know the brand had a Facebook page and become fans themselves after seeing their friend’s comment or like. Similarly, if a fan uploads a photo to the Brand’s Facebook page, that action is reflected in their Feed Stories for their friends to see – as shown in the example below.
These same network effects can also have a negative implications for the brand. If a Status Update attracts significant backlash in the form of negative comments by fans, the fallout is simultaneously broadcasted to thousands of their friends. At the same time, they turned the brand’s Wall into a wasteland of negativity which forces the page administrator to decide if they want to delete the comments in an effort to clean up their page. In a short period of time, the fan count starts increasing because friends are flocking to the page to leave their own negative comments, alerting several thousand more people. While this scenario is not common, it does happen as some automotive and consumer packaged goods brands found out recently.
By understanding what Shared Media means and how it can benefit or potentially damage your brand is essential to effectively managing a Facebook page. While Twitter, LinkedIn and MySpace’s networks don’t behave in exactly the same manner as Facebook, the same basic principles apply.
James Nichols is a Managing Partner at Ambition Capital, a think tank focused on the social web.