While most marketers know by now that earned is the most powerful media and they have programs in place to drive it, many have yet to realize that all earned is not created equal. The fact is that earned generated by an in-person experience -- even just a simple product sample or demo -- is more powerful than earned media generated by other means. And the more engaging that in-person experience, the more powerful the earned that it drives.
It’s no surprise this is not yet widely known. Attend almost any conference today and you get the impression that the only way to get consumers talking about brands on Facebook, Twitter and the like is to start conversations on those platforms. But there are well-established social marketing companies that can start brand conversations offline, with brand experiences that are far more engaging than is possible online. And there is a growing body of evidence that the online and offline earned media generated this way -- because it is more passionate, credible and far-reaching -- drives bigger brand and sales lifts, for higher ROI.
We call driving earned media this way “experience-driven social marketing,” and one batch of the proof of its power comes from leading word-of-mouth research firm the Keller Fay Group, whose ongoing tracking finds that 83% of word-of-mouth about brands involves personal experience. As co-founder Brad Fay sums it up: “Seven years of our research shows that word of mouth based on real product experience is more credible, more viral, and more likely to lead to purchase.”
Our findings reveal that brands that follow these strategies have achieved:
Experience-driven social marketing has the power and reach to both build brand and drive sales as well as -- or better than -- all other channels. It also has a longer-lasting impact; it gets consumers to pay more attention to a brand’s paid and owned media; it produces precious bonus assets that other channels can’t; and it can be accurately measured and reported in the metrics that marketers are used to and value most, including sales lift and ROI.
Earned is the most powerful media, and experience-driven is the most powerful earned. Experience-driven social marketing results in deeper engagement for more persuasive and far-reaching advocacy, and bigger lifts in branding and sales.