Consumers have embraced social media, with channels such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Google+ and the like having become the preferred gateways to access personal and professional information. These platforms have reduced the friction in how consumers can share, consume, create and purchase products. In addition to the big five social networks, nearly every website has social features integrated into a brand’s owned channels, such as consumer product reviews, social referrals, social sharing features and feeds from social network channels to name just a few.
These changes in consumer behavior have created a massive shift in the digital marketing landscape, resulting in the new ways marketers must plan and think about paid, owned and earned media with social at the core. Brands who fail to embrace this convergence in media will certainly be left behind.
Media Lines Blurred
This shift by consumers has blurred the lines between the traditional media types forever. For example, in the “old world,” a brand could think about how to carefully curate and mold the content on its website -- an owned channel. This brand-created content reflected how search paid media drove traffic to the brand’s website in a very controlled manner.
Today there are multiple owned channels -- from blogs, websites, micro sites and social brand profiles -- that all need to be nurtured. These owned channels also now include social media content, allowing consumers to contribute on a website via reviews and also create earned media by sharing both consumer- and brand-generated content throughout their social channels.
In addition to social media content on a website generating earned media, social content is also now factoring heavily into paid media search results. Search for something and notice how many consumer reviews and other social content appears and affects the ranking of the results. This has set the stage for the social consumer reviews on brand’s owned channels to positively or negatively affect the purchase intent of users on the site and those who search for a product or brand.
In another example of social intersecting with traditional media, consumers have multichannels with multiple touch points accessible in a manner of minutes. For example, consumers can be watching a TV show product placement, while simultaneously searching for a product on their mobile device and joining in on a conversation on social channels such as Twitter and/or Facebook. Marketers must consider this consumer social behavior pattern and create a strategy that facilitates and includes their owned, paid and earned media strategies working cohesively to amplify the desired results.
Ecosystem Model Changing
This dynamic has presented a bit of a dilemma for brands and agencies due to an ecosystem that has traditionally bought, measured and planned paid, owned and earned as separate entities. Most of the marketing dollars and measurement still sit in the paid side of the house, despite the majority of the consumer’s time being spent in social.
Marketers have been reluctant until recently to move significant dollars out of paid and into social efforts. Social media has been a catalyst for this change and is forcing brands and agencies to work together in the planning and measurement phases of paid, owned and earned in order to achieve maximum benefit. We are still in the early stages of social media and these ecosystem changes. The good news is we now have consensus around the table that social media is driving force and must be at the center of all media planning efforts.