Your brand’s social media accounts and advertisements are important, but they share a common flaw: your brand doesn’t own them, and your brand, therefore, doesn’t fully control them. When it comes to media for your online brand, you can divide it into three main categories of paid, earned, and owned media. Although paid and earned media both have the potential to really boost your brand’s visibility and reputation, owned media is what will take your brand that extra mile into the realm of forming and maintaining its true brand identity.
Paid, Earned, and Owned Media: Breaking It Down
Paid media is just that: media for which your brand pays. Advertisements, sponsorships, and even social media accounts are all channels through which a brand is paying to get its name out there before the eyes of the public. Social media is often perceived as owned media. However, in actuality, only your account itself is owned by your brand, and that account is in the hands of Big Brother (aka Facebook or Twitter, or whichever platform we’re talking about). Plus, Facebook now charges brands a fee to reach their intended audience! Your brand reaching its full potential of influence on its social media accounts is at the mercy of the networks themselves.
Earned media, like paid media, is pretty much just as it sounds: media a brand gains via public relations efforts or word-of-mouth, often through news outlets or cultural influencers. It can certainly be helpful to gain exposure in these ways, but through earned media, your brand does not have full control over what is said about it, or when.
Now, for the golden ticket. When it comes to the control of your brand identity, the true value lies in your brand’s owned media. Anything that is within your brand’s full control that you can use to reach your fans, followers, and customers is what will best represent and promote you. Your brand’s website or newsletters sent to its email subscribers or your blog; those are the channels, created by and maintained by your brand, that promote true connection between your brand and the consumer. Always aim for a lasting connection rather than a one-time transactional experience between the consumer and a news article about your brand or an advertisement they see while scrolling their Facebook feed.
Getting Started with Owned Media for Your Brand
If you currently find your brand lacking in its owned media channels, the best place to start is with an inviting and informative website. You want to search for and secure a domain name for your brand’s site that is both applicable and easy for the consumer to access. A brand’s website is a form of owned media that conveys whatever message the brand is trying to send, provides information to the user, and establishes a connection with the public, all within the total control of the brand. So yes, the domain name you choose is important!
A blog can also prove to be incredibly useful as a channel of owned media that creates value and strengthens the identity of a brand. Posting blog entries on your brand’s blog is a form of content creation that demonstrates to the public exactly what your brand values, is interested in, and is knowledgeable about. It forms a connection between you and your reader.
Once your brand has its own website and blog (or if that’s already been done and you’re looking for more ways to step up your brand’s owned media strategy), mobile apps are another channel of owned media that put brand identity on display through just a few touches of the consumer’s phone screen.
Successful Big-Ticket Owned Media Strategies to Inspire You
To put all this owned media talk into real-life perspective, maybe a few examples of brands who have rocked the owned media game would be helpful.
Rather than simply sharing content it deems relevant that was written by others (or worse, choosing not to engage in the business of content output altogether), tech colossus IBM has generated its own blogging site (https://www.ibm.com/blogs/). The blog churns out posts on widely varying topics, published on one of the blog’s 70 more specific pages within the main blogging page. By establishing and keeping up with its own blog on topics ranging from emerging technology to global finance to health perspectives, IBM sets the tone on what it values and considers important and worthy to be shared with its followers and investors (and the world!).
Brands can also make the most out of their websites and mobile apps by using them to form communities. With its Nike+ mobile app and section of its website, Nike has brought together a tribe of runners from all over the world who are dedicated to its brand and their sport. Nike+ allows users to collect and store their workout activity all in one place, compete against their friends and fellow Nike+ users, and even to receive personalized coaching to reach set goals. Through its implementation of Nike+ and the community that Nike+ creates, Nike has built itself a channel of owned media that can control its brand identity.
Why Owned Media is Vital in Today’s Market
One of the most important elements of owned media is that your brand OWNS it. It’s not controlled by some other entity that prioritizes itself over you. It’s not at the whim and fancy of a social networking giant (Myspace anyone?) or a news media outlet. It’s controlled by your brand, for your brand. It allows you to establish, maintain, and, most importantly, to prolong the identity and integrity of your brand. Your brand develops and shares content of its choosing and creates a community that follows along with and connects to your brand by providing the context in which to do so. Do your brand a favor by shifting its marketing strategy and focus to its owned media channels. Prioritize lasting brand identity and image through your brand’s very own media over media owned by someone else. After all, no one knows your brand as well as you do!
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