How Twitter As Earned Media Affects Paid Media

This is a guest post from Brian Honigman. Brian is a Social Media Account Manager at LunaMetrics.

Twitter has grown dramatically over the last couple of years and the complete impact of this social network has still yet to be seen. Like Facebook and other social media platforms, Twitter as earned media has affected other forms of paid media. TV, billboard and packaging advertising have been some of the most affected forms of paid media by the 140 character mico-blogging giant.

Paid Media vs. Earned Media

A quick overview of what defines the terms paid media and earned media is necessary to grasp the true affect Twitter has had.

Paid media is defined by most forms of traditional advertising. TV, print, billboard, packaging, radio, direct-mail, institutional and others make up paid media because advertisers directly pay for their advertising to be shown to consumers whether it be on a TV commercial or whatever platform. There are few steps involved, as compared to earned media multiple step process. Gaining publicity from both traditional and nontraditional forms of media by promotion is what defines earned media. Social networks like Twitter fall under this umbrella because through promotion, tweeting and other related campaigns, a product, brand or organization can reach high levels of consumers without the same payout for advertisers, just a different kind of effort.

How TV Advertising Has Changed

Everyone has seen a million TV commercials at this point, so it’s hard to notice the changes when you’ve seen them for most of your life. However, have you noticed that many commercials share both their URL of their website and the URLs of their Twitter and other social accounts? It’s becoming more and more of a common trend that helps link a brand’s paid and earned media efforts into one strategic marketing initiative.

Another instance where Twitter impacted TV advertising is with Kraft Macaroni and Cheese’s recent commercial promotions. In March, Kraft asked its Twitter audience to tweet for the chance to see their tweets live on TV the very same day or evening, called the Mac & Cheese TV campaign. Kraft mentioned a few select tweets in the commercial, thereby incorporating their digital audience and helping to continue the existing conversations. This campaign lead to exposure of their Twitter presence to TV audiences, while helping influence their Twitter audience to tune in to specific programming in hopes of seeing their tweets. This combo of earned and paid media was a way of dealing with old marketing concerns in a new innovative way, changing TV advertising to incorporate the sometimes disjointed audiences of a brand like Kraft.

How Billboard Advertising Has Changed

One of the simplest forms of paid media, billboard advertising relies on a company creating an ad themselves or contracting out the job, then posting it to a billboard in a trafficked area. Twitter comes into the picture in a multitude of ways when it comes to billboard advertising. Again, like TV commercials, many billboards now incorporate a company’s Twitter and Facebook logo inciting viewers to soak in the message of the billboard and later engage with the brand’s digital presence.

GNC featured a campaign with their outdoor advertising that solved a dual purpose, starting with paid media and then moving to earned media, the opposite direction of the Kraft Twitter to TV commercial campaign. Targeted to the Los Angeles area, users were instructed to record a video or snap a picture of existing GNC outdoor advertising, billboard or otherwise, and then tweet it to a specific GNC’s Twitter account for the chance to win a $100 gift card. This has helped both encourage the spread of user generated content throughout Twitter because of the gift card incentive, while GNC’s outdoor advertising gets more views in the digital space. Twitter has changed this form of paid media by acting as another avenue for gaining impressions on pre-existing advertising. Basically, this gives billboards and other outdoor advertising another life on Twitter with opportunities for more viewers.

How Packaging Advertising Has Changed

Throughout this article I’ve mentioned how each type of advertising is including either the URL or the icon of their Twitter and other social accounts, which has also become quite apparent with package advertising as well. This form of advertising technically falls under print advertising, but I wanted to pull it out from the overall category. In the past, few companies have advertised on a bag of potato chips unless it was another food brand like Coca-Cola partnering to push both products.

Now for the first time, the social icons of Twitter and Facebook have appeared on product packaging more and more often, especially on food products. Many potato chip, soda, cracker and cookie brands have the social icons on their individual food products right next to their nutritional facts on the back of the bag, can or box. Brands and companies are making this addition more and more necessary, so much that it’s becoming more commonplace to give consumers a reminder to check out Twitter after the snack on some crackers. Packaging advertising has evolved due to companies reminding their customers at all level of the sales funnel, from the store to the kitchen and to their stomachs that you need to follow them on Twitter. It’s starting to become a necessity, right next to how many calories a serving size contains.