Why Owned Media Matters

In our business, we talk a lot about the intersection between owned, earned, and paid media. I would argue that it’s part of our fundamental perspective and drives most of our work. O’Keeffe was founded on earned media – PR, media relations, and AP style. We added owned (and paid media) later with a particular focus on content. How we define owned content changes, but it always includes things like a blog on your website, white papers, or other deliverables that you wholly own. Sometimes we throw social media in the mix, but that’s a misnomer at this point. The fact is this: social media is no longer owned media.

Before you come after me with pitchforks, let me explain.

Who Owns Social?

If you had asked me five years ago if social media was owned, I would have said yes. Mostly. But these are dark days, my marketing friends. The decline of organic reach, the lack of clarity on metrics, and the changing algorithms all present enormous problems for us. Have you tried to pull historical data on Instagram lately? Try going back further than a week without some help, and you’ll find yourself frustrated beyond measure. And may Providence help you if you didn’t connect that tracking platform yesterday because the tracking will start right now, not when you need it.

The big problem is the lack of clarity regarding those metrics. Say you dug into Facebook and pulled out one of those great CSV files. Beautiful, right? Look at all of those numbers and columns! Columns for days! But what in the world do all of those columns refer to? And once you finally stumble on the metric you need, you better make sure you write down exactly what you did and then pray that platform doesn’t change its UX tomorrow.

Who’s Down with D-A-T-A?

The ability to pull correlational historical data is imperative, and it’s one of the biggest things missing from media that isn’t owned. Take your website, for example. Google Analytics may have some updates, but, generally speaking, I’ve been able to pull the same primary data for a decade. How I use that data may have changed, but as long as my website is connected and online, I can get historical data in a platform that actually helps me get what I need.  Your website is 100% owned media. You control that journey, you control how you guide your audience, and you can completely pull the metrics you need with little help from Google. Heck, you can even get immediate, crazy-cool tracking and other marketing goodies if you start linking additional platforms like Pardot. With owned media, you’re not at the mercy of another platform.

Okay, so we know that owned and paid media are different. You might be saying, gosh, Megan, but I don’t use paid social. I’m not paying for Facebook ads, and I’m certainly not boosting posts on LinkedIn. I can’t be paid if I’m not paying, right?

Wrong.

Dollar, Dollar Bills, Y’all

These platforms don’t exist so you can reach your audience. Come on, folks. These platforms exist to make money. There’s a reason why they make their metrics so annoying to pull (I’m looking at you, Facebook), and why their organic reach is declining. Instagram didn’t update how it displays posts so you would have better experience. It updated its algorithm so that you wouldn’t be guaranteed even to be seen, so you feel compelled to sponsor posts. Even Twitter, which I would agree has the most consistent analytics tracking experience, updated its feed, so it wasn’t chronological.

The big four don’t want to make it easy for you to engage with your audience unless you spend money. It’s that simple. You may not be sponsoring posts, but the platforms are now designed to be a paid experience. Social media is not owned. Social media is paid, whether you’re paying them directly or not.

Beyond the Default

We used to talk about the difficulty of building a brand on social media, but it was always in support in creating your website or app and not ignoring the channels that you own. We always cautioned about spending all of your time on Facebook when the platform may disappear and take all of your branding with it. We’re now in a time where social is a default part of any marketing strategy, despite the declining engagement and reach. Don’t get me wrong – paid social is still a comparatively cheap way to reach your audience. But don’t kid yourself and think that posting semi-regularly is enough.

This brings us to another point. Metrics and analysis. Remember that sweet, sweet historical data I mentioned earlier? It’s getting harder and harder to pull. I used to be able to grab an apples-to-apples comparison and industry benchmarks easily. We all used to know where we stand. More is better. More engagement, more impressions, more clicks. These days I can’t promise that. I can apply all of the best practices in the book. I can build creative campaigns. I track everything to the heavens and back. But without that paid budget, your campaign is entirely at the mercy of the platform itself.

But Wendy’s!

Now, I fully realize some brands have found massive success on social platforms. And you may be saying, Megan, this isn’t optional. I need to be one of those brands. Most agencies will promise you the world and deliver an island. We’re not like that. We value honesty and an authentic relationship with our clients. I’m not going to set you up for failure. But I am going to do everything in my power to make you one of those success stories, and I’m going to use all of the analytics at my disposal to create strategies to guide you.

Now here’s the flip side.

You’ve heard the digital space is crowded. Floral for spring. Groundbreaking. And now I’ve told you that social is a wasteland without a lot of time and some spending money. What’s a company to do? Maybe your budget is tiny, and you can’t afford to boost anything. Maybe your budget is massive, but you’d rather not burn piles of cash.

Clean Your House

Your first step is to make sure that your house is in order. When is the last time you updated your website? Are you ready for voice search? Please tell me that you’re optimized for mobile. Review your copy. Does all of this content speak to who you are? Are you answering your prospect’s questions? Is your sales team aligned? Do you have a documented content marketing strategy? If any of these things aren’t there, focus on these first. Your main priority should always be owned media. Paid and earned can layer into this, but you have to be clear about who you are and why you matter.

Your driving mission should be authenticity. We’re beyond a manufactured; white bread easily approved content strategy. Don’t produce white papers because you’re supposed to. Don’t post on Twitter because you have to. Pull together your owned, earned, and paid media into one voice and get strategic about how you spend your time. Know which stories are great for PR and which stories are better as sales content. Research to discover where your audience is and what they want to know.

#Latergram

Social media was one of my first loves in the marketing world. The ability to create instant conversations was pure magic, and I loved finding ways to drive engagement. The days of live-tweeting a conference and expecting a huge return are over. Focus on your owned media and the rest will follow.

Why your business needs visual content

Regardless of the industry you work in, you’ve probably already heard that visual content is an effective form of communication. Actually, in my opinion it’s becoming the most effective form of communication.

Whether you’re in B2B or B2C, it’s still H2H (human to human). Humans are visual beings, and in today’s world of information-overload, visuals can help your message rise above the clutter.  If you aren’t focusing on visual content for your marketing, social media or email campaigns, it’s probably time to start.

Visuals grab our attention.

There are 1.5 billion units of content generated each day. With so much information floating around online, businesses need to find ways to grab the attention of their target audiences. Using visuals, rather than text, is a much more effective way to accomplish this.

We remember visuals.

Did you know that people retain 80 percent of what they see? This is compared to 20 percent of what they read and ten percent of what they hear. Big difference. If you want your audience to remember what you are communicating, show them using visuals.

Visual content gets more views.

Content featuring compelling images averages 94 percent more total views than those without. It’s also 40 times more likely to be shared on social media than posts with only text. By including an image, you can drastically increase people’s willingness to read, listen or see what you have to say.

Visual content can influence human emotion.

Images, videos, infographics, and other forms of visual content include color that can appeal to your target audience’s senses and influence their emotions. Studies show that colors not only affect emotions, but also influence how people will take action. Additionally, visual content acts as a universal language and can appeal to all audiences and emotions.

To practice what I preach, I’ve included an infographic that brings this message to life.

 

Infographic from Ethos3
Infographic from Ethos3

 

Is Your Brand Utilizing Facebook Live?

As of June, 2016 Facebook reported over 1.71 billion monthly active users. As you can imagine, when the company launched Facebook Live, it peaked the interest of marketers everywhere. Whether you are a B2B or B2C company, these real-time video posts can create real opportunities for your brand to engage with your audience. If your company hasn’t tried using Facebook Live yet, it might be a good time to start.

What is Facebook Live?

Facebook Live videos are real-time video posts that show up in your followers’ Facebook news feeds. Your page can broadcast in real time for up to 90 minutes. While broadcasting, your company can keep track of how many people are viewing the video, read and monitor comments and respond to them directly. Your fans can even subscribe and get notified the next time you start a live broadcast.

Facebook Live can help your brand:

Reach a wide audience.

Video is King, and there are plenty of statistics to prove it. And, Facebook has recently tweaked its news feed algorithm to prioritize live video because of research that shows users spend three times longer watching a live video compared to a pre-recorded video. This means that your brand’s video will show up on more news feeds than a typical Facebook post, and your organic reach will be much higher.

Target the right audience.

Facebook allows you to target who your live stream will reach. You can target by age, gender, language or location, so your video will reach those who are relevant.

Be more human.

Facebook Live is just another tool for you to showcase your brand’s personality. Your audience will get to know your brand better and feel better connected with live video, which will make them more likely to come back to your pages for more.

Understand your audience.

By listening to their real-time reactions and comments, your brand can test new ideas and get immediate feedback. You are also able to see the total number of people who watched at least a portion of the video, along with how many viewers you had at different points in time during the video. This information is helpful to determine when your audience is on Facebook and what they want to see.

Should my company use Facebook Live?

Facebook live can offer plenty of benefits for both B2B and B2C companies. But, with all social networks, it is important to think about where your audience lives. If you have customers, potential customers or industry peers who are active on Facebook, then Facebook Live is a great tool to use to answer questions, hear what’s on their mind and share new information with them.

For example, if your company offers business classes or workshops, you can broadcast interviews with attendees about the best tips they received during the session. As a construction company, you might broadcast a drywall installation or a walk-through of a completed project or building. If you are a restaurant, you can broadcast a “how-to” video of your chef cooking a quick and easy dish.

Live streaming is all about connecting and engaging with your audience in real time. Facebook Live breaks down barriers and creates a connection that traditional marketing cannot. So, go ahead and give it a try!