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How shared media fits into the marketing mix

How shared media fits into the marketing mix Rebecca Lieb

The convergence of paid, owned, and earned media has been an important discussion for some time now. It was a topic of this column on more than one occasion. The nagging question since the coinage of the POE acronym has been "What about shared media?"

When Jeremiah Owyang and I published research on the convergence of paid, owned, and earned media, we noted that our colleague Brian Solis advocated adding "shared" to the mix. Lately, I've been having similar discussions with Ketchum's partner and global director, Nicholas Scibetta (disclosure: Ketchum is a client of my employer), about that same topic. Ketchum has adopted not a POE model, but rather PESO (paid, earned, shared, and owned media), for the work it does for its clients.

Where does shared media sit in the paid, owned, and earned equation? What is shared media, anyway? If shared is a goal, how is it achieved? Is all shared media of equal value? To know, you would need a system for measuring it. What would that be?

None of these questions are easy to answer, but here are some top line musings.

What is shared media, and where does it sit in the paid/owned/earned equation?

Shared media is a subset of earned media and a form of amplification. Earned media generally tends have a point of view or an editorial bend. Examples might be a blog post or an article around a topic, a video of a product unboxing, or commentary ("I just saw this new movie and it's really great/totally sucks," or "This is what the Travon Martin verdict means for race relations in America"). Shared media, on the other hand, tends to be overwhelmingly duplicative. It's a forward, a retweet, a pin, or (on Facebook) a literal "share." Perhaps a word or comment is injected, but essentially it's a pass-along of an essentially unaltered element of content.

It's worth noting that you can even share shared media, which in a sense, is earning shared. Is your head spinning yet? Mine is!

Are all forms of shared media of equal value?

Not possibly. Channel is important. So is temporality, as well as audience. As analyst Susan Etlinger put it last week in a conversation, "A tweet is ephemeral, but a pin is forever." That time element can be critical, but so too is audience. Where is the target demographic hanging out? That fleeting tweet could be more important to some than the enduring pin if Pinterest isn't the right channel for the audience you're trying to reach. There are plenty of variables in determining the value of shared media, just as there are with any earned media. Then, of course, there are correlating elements, such as temporality and channel, with the KPIs that really matter: sentiment, conversions, sales, engagement (whatever that is), purchase intent, etc. No one said this was going to be easy!

How do you get people to share?

Ah, the lightning in a bottle question. How do you get the video to go viral? Clearly, there's no one good answer. There are, however, essential elements. Make it compelling. Make it interesting. Create content in discrete, shareable elements (e.g., headline, image, snappy introductory paragraph). Make it suitable to the audience and the channel. Connecting content to the Zeitgeist helps immensely. Social media veterans will tell you that content related to a high profile news event (think royal baby, plane crash, election, etc.) is shared by orders of magnitude more than non-topical content.

Share and share alike

Connecting the dots between paid, owned, earned, and shared is relatively immature in terms of converged media. The jury is still out regarding whether or not shared media deserves its own seat at the table. I'd love it if you'd share your own thoughts on the issue in the comments.

Rebecca Lieb is an analyst in digital advertising/media for Altimeter Group.

On Twitter? Follow iMedia Connection at @iMediaTweet.

"Boy and girl sharing" image via Shutterstock.

Rebecca Lieb has published more research on content marketing than anyone else in the field.  As a strategic adviser, her clients range from start-up to non-profits to Fortune 100 brands and regulated industries. She's worked with brands...

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