Social Symphony

Earned Media is Not Social - Introducing EARNED SOCIAL

Gunther Koo - Tuesday, June 29, 2010


Recently I spoke on a panel at OMMA Social in NYC entitled, “Using Paid Media to Drive Earned Media.”  It made me think… what is earned media?  Drive earned media to where?  What are brands going to do when they arrive? Made me want to pull over and check the map. The panel reinforced my belief that earned media assumptions will be harmful to the industry. My POV is that “earned” is way too valuable to be tied to “media” and brands in social will be hurt by the media way of thinking and doing. 

SOCIAL WITHOUT STRATEGY IS NOT SOCIAL Results of a June 2010 study of corporate social media usage aptly titled "Social Media Without a Parachute" surveyed execs from 100 companies of varying sizes and revealed that 78% of respondents said their companies were using social media -- but just 41% said they had a strategic plan. 

PAID MEDIA MENTALITY HURTS EARNED SOCIAL We have all been on the paid media road of portals, sites and publishers. We know it. With paid, you plan it, you buy it and own a place for a period of time. The paid media mindset is one of planning, campaigns, takeovers, targeting and control. The social web grows everyday. Social is all about relationships between people. So how do brands get in?  You can’t buy good, healthy relationships, you can’t start and stop them at your whim, you cannot takeover, target nor conquer a relationship. 

INTRODUCING “EARNED SOCIAL” Earned Social takes a broad view to purposefully plan, build and reinforce long-term relationships every step of the way. It is the thousand connections mindset. Earned Social is social marketing. This social marketing mindset always reminds and instructs marketers that earned social is about always being invited in by people, always becoming a part of peoples lives, always building relationships, always creating credibility and connecting. People are interesting, exciting, funny, adventurous, reflective, hopeful,  helpful and all the things your brand can be with them. This is Earned Social at its best. Our future is bright. 

PEPSI IS GETTING IT RIGHT It was just announced that… “HUGE the digital agency was awarded a Bronze Cyber Lion in the "Best Digitally Driven Integrated Campaign" category at the 57th annual Cannes Lions Wednesday night, for its work on PepsiCo's "Pepsi Refresh" platform.” Look closely at what Pepsi is doing. It is not in the individual activities of Pepsi Refresh, or their Facebook efforts, or their stickyBits, or their Foursquare, or their Apps… it is the combination of all of them that makes Pepsi succeed in social. This is their thousand connections mindset at work. It is how a brand helps people find personal meaning and feel a human connection. It is happening in the strategic sum total of Pepsi’s activities, connecting with people over and over. 

ACCELERATE EARNED MOMENTS Pepsi is doing the right thing, Congratulations. Not far behind them is Coke with “Happiness” and BMW with “Joy”. Brands are starting to get this right. Brands should now be creating conversations and content that builds relationships. Brands help people become allies in solving problems, help people find personal meaning and focus on the human part of people. This will accelerate the earned moment of people telling their friends they love this brand and why. 

USING PAID MEDIA TO SUPPORT EARNED SOCIAL I am a huge proponent of using paid media to drive earned social. I helped lead the first efforts to ever do so with the “MyCadillacStories” in 2006.  We used 160x600 banners with mini blogs inside to advertise that Cadillac wanted to talk to people, to drive conversation and co-create stories. Cadillac’s purpose was entirely social… creating conversation, helping people add their narrative to the story and letting people co-create the Cadillac story. Today, as using paid media to drive earned social becomes mainstream, we want to make sure that we get this right now, that all brands prosper and investment increases. Earned social is about being strategic, thoughtful and aware. Aware of where we are and what people want as we become more social, more mobile and more human.  Earn the right to advance with people and they will take you with them.