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Overlaps between paid, owned and earned social media

This step describes how the three types of social media have converged.

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This is referred to as ‘influencer marketing’, whereby those earned mentions of your brand are brought about through commercial arrangements. For instance, a beauty blogger being paid by an eye make-up brand to publish a tutorial on their Instagram with the brand’s product.

A promotional Tweet for VOXI by musician Liam Payne

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Liam Payne is one of the 50 young artists that VOXI commissioned to create content for their marketing channels.

Notice that he has used the #ad label, which indicates he has been paid to publish that content. This is required by the Advertising Standards Authority, which has set up strict standards to ensure the public is not misled through this form of advertising. While ‘organic’ earned media is highly valuable, it is also unpredictable and hard to plan. The primary benefit of paid/earned media is that while not having the same level of authenticity of purely earned media, it can be planned as any other paid media channels. The timing, the message, the link destination, everything can be defined exactly how you would like it to be. This also helps you to clearly measure and understand its ROI.

Influencer marketing has had a number of hype moments in recent years and it is now well established and recognised as a solid marketing channel. Still, it remains misunderstood and misused by many. Opportunities and risks involved in influencer marketing are covered in a dedicated lesson.


Despite being under your control, owned media, similarly to earned media, can lack predictability. This is particularly true for social media, where the algorithms define who sees what. This, together with the social platforms shareholders’ pressure to monetise users, has generated the need for paid/owned media.

Two boosted Twitter posts by VOXI

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A typical example of this is a campaign launch post on Instagram, announcing a new product line. As a purely owned piece of content, no marketer could predict its reach and engagement. They wouldn’t be satisfied if the post only reaches a fraction of their audience. On Instagram, as on most social media platforms, there is the option to ‘boost’ a post to a specific part of the platform’s audience and gain a more predictable set of results. Here, the only limit is the brand’s advertising budget.

The best use of this kind of advertising is to generate awareness for a brand or product. When driving actions such as purchases, there are more effective techniques.

Think of your most engaging content. How would it resonate within certain sections of the wider population beyond your existing audience?

Many brands invest a monthly budget to ensure these top posts receive support on an ad hoc basis. This way, the best of what is published gains wider attention, bringing in a steady stream of new audiences.

Owned/ Earned

This is the area of the converged media model which gets the least attention from marketers. Namely, conversations in your owned spaces such as social pages and forums. It could be a threaded conversation about you on your Facebook page. Or a sub-Reddit created and moderated by you and where customers and fans share their tips and tricks on how to get the most out of your products.

A screenshot of a Reddit forum discussing VOXI

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Creating a space for people who already appreciate your product or service to congregate and help each other can have a huge impact on your brand reputation. Reflect on how you could create such spaces.

Also, think about how this crowd-sourced knowledge-base could grow, and not only assist prospects in their purchase journey but also show them just how passionate and engaged your most loyal audience members are.

Facebook Groups, Reddit and Slack, custom forums and support pages are amongst the most effective platforms for this type of activity.

Your cross-media strategy

It is not obligatory to use all six sections of the converged media model but, when creating a social media strategy, you should reflect on each of them. Ask yourself, ‘What are the opportunities here?’

This model helps us think of the different ways we can reach our audience and engage our consumers. It is likely you will find valuable opportunities in each of these areas.

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How to Develop Your Social Media Content Strategy

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