A recent study revealed that earned content is 88% more effective than owned media -- which makes it a powerful part of your B2B content strategy. Yet, like many you may struggle with the concept of earned content, and aren’t sure how to integrate it into their strategy. Read on to learn how to use it effectively.
A well-rounded B2B content marketer will also include owned and paid content in her B2B PR tactics. Owned content is content that you create and own (such as your blog, website, or newsletter), while paid content is publicity that you pay for (such as pay-per-click advertising). The beauty and appeal of owned and paid content is that you’re in control of what B2B content is shared and the brand image that results.
While owned and earned media are relatively easy to implement, it can be a struggle to incorporate earned content. Why is this content such an important part of your strategy, and how can you tap into its powerful influence?
Why Develop Earned Content In Your B2B Content Strategy?
Nowadays, with so many content options at your fingertips, many may question the importance of earned content. If you have owned content (a website, blog, or newsletter), and pay for your content to be distributed with pay-per-click advertising and other venues, you may feel that you are doing enough to promote your company.
Yet, owned and paid content can only take you so far. If you want B2B leads to view you as a credible company, it can help to have a third party weigh in and through its imprimator of cverage implying you're worth attention. Earned content offers you an incredible opportunity to:
- Build trust, credibility, and reputation with new customers.
- Inspire customer action
- Boost your ranking in search engines
- Save money, since the content is unpaid
How to Create Amazing Earned Content
Reach Out to Influencers
Your industry’s influencers have a wide-ranging audience at their fingertips -- all of whom are an eager potential audience for you.
But how do you stand out from the many others in your industry who are vying for an influencer’s attention? This process begins long before you first make contact with the influencer. I can’t emphasize this enough: do your research. While the person may be an influencer in your industry, there are other aspects that make them unique. For example, what topics do they write about? What social networks are they active on? What do they share on social media?
This information contributes to a pitch that is powerfully directed at them personally -- different from the run-of-the-mill pitches they no doubt receive on a daily basis. Show why their audience would be interested in your brand or product.
Don’t put all your eggs in one influencer’s basket. One component of influencer marketing is to reach out to multiple influencers -- anyone who is related to your industry and has a unique audience is someone who can extend your reach.
We see a spectacular example of this in TD Ameritrade's Human Finance Project. Its goal with this campaign was to change the world's perception of the finance industry. TD Ameritrade featured real stories from everyday investment advisors to breathe life into a normally dull and faceless industry. Notice, these aren't necessarily big-whigs of the industry with a million Twitter followers. They're regular, neighbor-next-door indiviuals who have worked in the investment field for years -- the perfect influencers in this instance to help TD Ameritrade achieve its goals.
Prolong the Life of Your Earned Content
Your glowing feature article or interview doesn’t have to die on a third party site. Prolong the life of your earned content through your owned media. For example, show off that hard-earned mention or review on your website or post an excerpt of your article on your blog. The following are a few additional ways to amplify your earned content:
- Add it to your signature line
- Promote it in social media
- Talk it up in a newsletter
You worked hard to get that mention -- now it's time to flaunt it!
Actively Participate in Industry Trade Shows
Discover where your audience goes. In-person events are a pivotal way for people to become familiar with your company, and be motivated to interact and become B2B leads. Show up with your content game face on -- prepared with visuals, written content, and video to show them that you mean business.
To go one step further toward solidifying your place in people’s minds, become a speaker at the event. Choose a topic that will make your brand stand out, and will have solid value for your audience. Extend the reach of this opportunity by including your social media handles, hashtags, and links on your content -- this facilitates easy sharing across your audience. And once someone does share your content, be sure to reach out with a friendly “Thanks.”
You can even leverage opportunities before the event begins. Share your insights and establish yourself across the event’s platforms -- in particular, the event’s newsletter, blog, and social media accounts. This not only whets attendees' appetites to look for you at the event, but may incite them to join your audience before the event even begins.
Leverage Fans and Advocates of Your Brand
Just because someone is a fan or advocate of your brand does not mean your work is done. Once you’ve identified people who actively support your brand to their audience, your job is to cultivate their interest by engaging with them. Reach out to those who share your content -- thank them, and even have a conversation about the content that they shared. This could even include your employees, who are valuable assets in your strategy.
Once you’ve identified fans of your brand, make a contact list. This list can be used to reach out to them with special news about your company, such as an industry award or a recent research paper. Many feel honored to play such a role in distributing a company’s news -- and doing so moves them up the ladder towards becoming industry influencers themselves.
Remember, though, that earned media is just one piece to the puzzle of your B2B content strategy. To be effective, your PR tactics must include the trifecta of content -- owned, paid, and earned.
A Few Things to Remember...
- Work to connect with an influencer in your industry who can get your brand in front of a wide audience.
- Your earned content doesn't have a shelf life -- prolong it by promoting it on your owned media
- Trade shows are the ideal place to share your content and encourage others to share and promote it.
- Loyal fans are often ready and eager to share your company's news with their audience.
Don’t ignore the powerful influence that earned content can contribute to your overall B2B content strategy. Integrate earned content whenever possible, and watch your strategy truly take off.