Social Ménage à Trois in Paid, Earned and Owned Media

Guest blogger Chase McMichael warns that if you don't start maximizing your social media marketing resultes, you could lose your job.Consumers are connected and the social graph is melding paid, earned and owned media. This presents challenges in synthesizing and optimizing these three channels. CMO's that are committed to integration will achieve greater marketing efficiency, higher ROI and measurable success. After the jump, he tells you why.

Guest blogger Chase McMichael is founder, president and CEO of social intelligence company InfiniGraph. A veteran of realtime collaboration technologies at companies such as Oracle, Sprint and Chase Manhattan Bank. McMichael will present “Optimizing Social Media: Making Real-Time Decisions on Real-Time Data” at Socialize West, October 21 & 22.

Maximize results or you’re going to lose your job. Facebook’s meteoric revenue growth is serious business, with $1.6 Billion in revenue for the first half of this year and it’s being widely reported it will soon reach $4 Billion annually.

It’s well known that social ads are yielding results due to the fact consumer action on ads creates spread, like conversations extend reach. Content creation and curation also has a major impact as to how well brands own their industry voice.

Without good content the engagement that drives reach will not happen as shown in our previous post 5 Ways Curation and Content Automation Increases Engagement. Social has become the best way to integrate “paid,” “earned” and “owned” media (PEOM) like never before. Examples from a social perspective:

Paid: Buying Facebook ads, Twitter promoted ads and display ads / TV spots

Earned: Blog or news about your product, conversation on your social sites

Owned: A brand’s own social media presence on Facebook, Twitter and their own websites, all used to drive interaction

The fact that consumers are connected and the social graph is melding paid, earned and owned media presents challenges in synthesizing and optimizing these three channels. CMO’s that are committed to integration will achieve greater marketing efficiency, higher ROI and measurable success. Here’s why:

Social Always On

Nothing is for free and it costs to do social well. Many have talked about the costs but where is the ROI? Since social has truly leveled the playing field it takes work and here is where the “Earned” comes in. We rarely see a TV spot or other advertisement that does not promote a Facebook or Twitter presence and for good reason. Now the conversation can be continued and shared via social channels expanding the overall reach. A direct example of melding these three channels is seen on the TheGrio website homepage and the Flite.com ad unit shown below.

Leveraging filtered, social content as it trends and streaming it within an advertising unit created +2.5 percentage points CTR higher over previous ads to the main site that’s a 50X uplift. “Every brand is familiar with the need for social media, “said Dan Woolsey, Director of Business Operations, NBC News (TheGrio). “The common challenge is that this general need for social media costs time and money and there are frustratingly few paths to a calculable ROI.”

Woolsey continues, “By identifying trending content from your own social media efforts and allowing you to place that content into ad units, your CTR shoots up. The bottom line is ads that display trending social media do better and become more valuable. Our initial test campaign started with a baseline CTR of .05% – not bad for industry rate. We incorporated our own trending content in the ads and the CTR jumped to 2.5%.”

Social discovery linked with paid media delivered these results. Creating mass exposure via paid channels has shown to be a very promising approach in integrating content relevance. In the last three years a good set of brands have hired social media managers or social agencies and that has likely been the bulk the “social” budget, but now it’s taking more to realize ROI. A Facebook Page is not free but it is “owned” media. Creating and managing content on that page costs real dollars, making it more “paid”, especially if you’re also buying Facebook ads.

Social Earned Media

One proven way to increase effectiveness and lower your costs is earned media coupled with social optimization. With the social share button being one click away from spreading good content, the connection between “earned” and “paid” is undeniable. Intent is everything, if someone shares, tweets, comments, etc., it all hits the graph and spreads to friends. That’s gold! Where brands fall short is the follow through engagement, re-posting the best-trending content means not just your super fans become your evangelists. A great example in action is what Discovery Channel is doing.

The majority of content is not being leveraged to its maximum due to poor tracking and the inability to be responsive. Creating more engagement on what’s most relevant not only expands the brand’s reach but also maximizes those paid assets. Below is a direct example of post optimization based on crowd-sourcing trending content.

Earned media’s biggest payoff is from behavioral shared connections compelled to create reviews, a blog post, a comment or a tweet, people sharing their thoughts on your brand with their social network. The nice thing about earned media, too, is that it provides more insights and is much more measurable than it was before social media went mainstream.

Understanding intent and behavior around all that content gives brands a competitive advantage. All content being shared, whether it’s posts, text, messages, a video or a website —will all be reduced to a link hitting one of the major social networks. Word-of-mouth marketing now spreads at the click of a button and that’s why earned media has become so important to a marketing campaign.

The Ménage à trois – All about the data

Analyze the data to see where traffic is coming from – Finding out the what, where, and how of a specific call to action is not only critical it’s required. Many brands are still stuck on getting the like count up but don’t translate it into measurable sales or don’t measure if those likes generate more traffic / conversation. Likes don’t provide much insight into interaction around the brand where content clearly does. Knowing what is relevant to your audience is critical in driving more engagement. A brand needs to optimize all forms of media, thereby enabling the brand to create the deepest and most meaningful relationships with consumers while also understanding their media consumption. [Dave Fleet created a few slick visuals for interworking of PEOM.]

Social is a horizontal layer touching every part of your business, from customer service to customer acquisition, to customer retention. There are different performance metrics for each point along the marketing funnel. You can determine your effectiveness at achieving a goal, whether it’s brand health, brand awareness, brand preference, or intent to buy.

• Were we able to increase our contacts and leads to sell more items?

• Did we increase referrals or direct sales to a target location?

• Are people saying better things about the brand or our buzz increasing?

The US is approaching social saturation (ubiquity) and the globe is well on its way to being socialized, generating earned media has become a higher priority due to the hyper social sharing behavior. Now more pressure is on paid and owned media teams to streamline their coordination or lose the opportunity of momentum. As the barriers are being torn down and silos altered, a new form of media collaboration must be created.

Give us your thoughts; are you seeing the digital media landscape changing due to social?