Facebook and other social networks are re-shaping the web around human connections, and the lines between paid advertising, branded content, and consumer conversations are becoming increasingly blurred. Paid, owned and earned media assets have become deeply interconnected as part of a complex web of social conversations. As a result, social media marketers can no longer work in silos with a singular focus on either paid advertising or owned media management. Instead, they must take an integrated approach by balancing their portfolio of social media assets to maximize the performance of their overall social marketing program.
Balancing Paid, Owned, and Earned Media
Every successful Facebook social marketing program starts with a core base of fans with whom you engage and re-engage with your brand’s message on a regular basis. Your fans have liked your page, interact with your page posts, and help extend your reach by sharing your content throughout their network of friends. Actively engaging consumers with your owned media is a powerful way to grow your fan base, so it is important to develop and test a wide body of content to understand what resonates most with your desired audience. The most engaging content earns you significant additional value through successive generations of sharing and interaction across each consumer’s network.
While growing your fan base organically is key to every social marketing program, it is frequently not sufficient to generate the reach and scale required to fulfill your performance objectives. From your base of fans, you can extend and amplify your most successful owned media content using paid social ads and sponsored stories. Start by targeting friends of your fans along with their network of friends. Beyond these groups, you can use Facebook’s sophisticated targeting capabilities to reach a wider audience based on likes and interests, demographics, or other targeting criteria that are indicative of your desired customer. As always, taking a test-and-learn approach is crucial for paid as well as owned social media.
Once you have a scalable fan base, you can then begin using your paid and owned messages to channel consumers toward specific actions that fulfill your campaign’s performance objectives. For example, online retailers may want to drive consumers off Facebook to make purchases or convert in some other manner on the brand’s website. Alternatively, marketers with brand awareness and engagement goals may be able to achieve them completely within Facebook, either within the user’s Newsfeed or on the brand’s fan page.
But is my social media marketing program working?
Regardless of the specific goals of the campaign, it is important that marketers use technology and systems that enable them to measure each interaction the consumer has with the brand’s paid, owned, and earned media assets – but simply understanding the individual interactions is not enough. Marketers need to be able to view the entire customer-behavior path. For direct response advertisers, this may be a series of interactions within the purchase funnel that leads from initial awareness, through intent, and then to conversion in the form of an online purchase. For marketers with brand-awareness goals, the path may involve interactions that lead to some other desired response or demonstrated degree of engagement with the brand.
In either case, having deep visibility into the consumer’s interaction path is key to understanding how owned and paid media assets interact with and reinforce one another and which assets have the highest impact on performance. Some page posts or other assets, for example, may show up more frequently than others in a purchase path and may be critically important for driving customers into and through the funnel. Having this knowledge enables marketers to tailor their owned and paid content in tandem and maximize their desired outcome.
Paid, owned, and earned social media assets have become deeply interwoven, and marketers can no longer view them separately when creating and executing social media programs. We must cross the paid and owned divide and take an integrated approach to social media marketing. This means breaking down silos within the marketing plan as well as across various teams within the organization.
To recap, the key steps to a successful integrated social media marketing program are:
- Develop a strong core of owned assets and fans
- Leverage paid ads to scale your brand’s reach
- Amplify your owned media with paid social ads and sponsored stories
- Use a measurement system that enables you to follow the consumer’s path of interaction with each of your owned, earned, and paid assets.
- Optimize your overall program by developing owned and paid assets that reinforce each other and drive desired consumer actions.
- Todd Herrold