Let's start wth the basics - What is earned media? Earned media is media (or content) you don't own and did not pay for. Typical examples might be a blog post about your brand or product or a Tweet about how awesome your customer service is. Earned media is free, out of the goodness of the writer's heart - and who doesn't love it when we get unsolicited rave reviews?
According to this Google/Ogilvy survey, 74% of consumers identify word-of-mouth as a key influencer in their purchasing decision. Bottom line, people would rather hear about your product from a trusted reviewer or a friend. Not you. Sure, they'll come to your website or your social profiles for more information, but the conversation probably doesn't start with you.
That's where the generosity comes in
Whether B2B or B2C, buyers don't care about you or your product. They care about their problem. The more information you can share to help them define the problem and resolve it, the more likely they are to find and support you.
Give them information about the industry so they can make informed decisions whether it's about your product or the industry in general. People will share it, and may even use it to write a blog post.
Engaging social influencers
Locate the social influencers in the market who write about your industry. Create lists of important people in your network to share frequently. Encourage them by complimenting (not pandering) on their expertise or asking questions that are relevant to them and their readers. Share ideas for topics they could write about or connect them with other influential people to create a community of practice you can all gain from.
Don't think of this as a sales channel yet, it's not. It's a budding relationship. These relationships can be priceless for validating yourself as a knowledgeable industry leader in the eyes of your market and they can be rich resources for information on what is important out there. Nurture them.
By the way, share from the top bloggers and journalists as well as from smaller bloggers who don't have as much traffic, but do have engaged followings. They'll appreciate your support, and may well pay you back with a review or some shares and retweets. A smaller blog with an avid following can do a lot for you - don't discount their value until you look at how they engage with their readers.
Offer to share information with your influencers, but not payment or product - that's paid content and it has to be disclosed, which can affect how the market sees it. Many top bloggers don't take payment as they don't want to taint their reputation. Others make an excellent living from sponsored posts - and the better they are at this the more you will be expected to pay.
Engaging your market
Look for ways to help your market with problems associated with the industry. What are their key issues? Can you give them information that will make their day better? What tangential issues do they have? Might they have issues that are loosely related to the industry you can help with? Do some searches for questions online, ask your sales team or even your clients. How can you help make their lives easier?
Generosity is a powerful tool in your marketing belt. Use it freely an reap the rewards.
This post was originally published on Janet Fouts' blog