In 1970, consumers were hit with 500 advertisements per day. In 2017, that number is expected to hit at least 5,000 per day.

Bombardment with branded content causes consumers to block out brand messages in search for more authentic content. Over 92% of consumers trust recommendations from peers and other real people compared to branded content (Neilsen Global).

In a “world of stuff”, how can a brand stay relevant without alienating the audience?

Welcome to the Earned Media Economy

Most marketing teams still haven’t entered the Earned Media Economy. Today the marketing landscape requires brands to put a greater emphasis on distributing earned media and user-generated content in creative ways. Branded content still holds tremendous value but an intimate understanding of your audience, their needs, and how to influence them lies in the treasure trove of Earned Media.

Control the brand message and let the Earned Media Economy take over.

Think of earned media as your customers working as your marketing force. They are your brand advocates, spreading your products, stories, and images across an ever-growing set of digital channels.

Now, with the Internet at your hands, word of mouth marketing has become Expedited Distributed Voice Marketing (EDVM).

EDVM involves getting consumers to consistently talk about your brand on numerous channels in real-time. Now with just an internet connection consumers can share videos, blogs, articles, testimonials, pictures, and 140 character snippets to anyone in the world, in literally a matter of seconds.

It’s insanely fast, the channels are free and open, and consumers’ voices can be amplified faster and louder than a brand’s.

Brands are authors, consumers are storytellers

As a marketer, think of the Earned Media Economy as a parent dropping off a child at college. You want to be there to make sure they don’t fail, but you just have to let go (I’m not a parent so I’m playing off what I hear!) You have to be the guide, but not the hand holder.

In 2017, this holds true for marketers. You cannot be the dictator of every piece of content. A brand’s job in the Earned Media Economy is to guide the voice of the audience. Provide the base for the brand story and allow your audience to act as the characters in your brand story.

Marketing is no longer brand controlled but consumer-controlled.

"“A customer-oriented mindset stemming from deep social
interaction allows a company to identify and meet customer
needs in the marketplace, generating superior profits.”

~Wetpaint and Altimeter

What Can Earned Media and User Generated Content do for you?

Overall, a solid earned media strategy can affect sales, time on site, customer satisfaction, brand loyalty, clicks, and the list goes on and on.

The hospitality industry is one of my favorite industries.  Not only have I worked at hotels and restaurants, but also the hospitality industry relies on earned media more than most other industries. Mainly because customer testimonials and referrals are a big driver in business, with travelers looking for customer recommendations before trusting a brand.

After implementing a UGC hub on their website Meritus Hotels saw a 93% increase in Time on Site and Click-throughs compared to a corporate image gallery. With more people engaged on their website they are able to convert more leads and direct more visitors to relevant branded content. This could be your brand, but you might be missing the opportunity.

Why Earned Media Creates A Longer Impression

We have discovered that creating a long-term strategy involving your audience and customers can positively affect results and metrics.

A study by Trusov, Bucklin, and Pauwels found that WOM and earned media affect an audience for much longer than traditional media. Specifically, there was “an increase in Word of Mouth to impact [a conversion] for three weeks while traditional marketing effects for three to seven days.”

This shows that UGC and earned media content can bring more conversions (purchases, signups, likes, store visits) with less effort due to the longer life span of that content compared to generic branded content. It won’t just happen automatically, but as a brand begins to aggregate and analyze their UGC and earned media, they can follow trends to improve results.

The Earned Media Economy is here…now stop waiting and take action.

Don’t be the brand that acts last. It’s time to jump on the trend and craft a brand story with which your audience relates. Bring your customers into your brand story and allow them to be the characters through earned media and UGC creation. You’ll create deeper relationships and drive more actions that positively affect your brand.