Owning Your 'Leased' Channels

In a recent article, Jason Loehr, director of global media and digital marketing at Brown-Forman, reflected on Facebook’s now infamous drop in organic reach. He reasoned that platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, are not owned or earned channels -- but rather, they are “leased.”

The implication of this “borrowed space” mentality, Loehr continues, is that brands need to shift some focus back to channels where ownership is completely theirs. In essence, leveraging social media to “fish where the fish are” while doubling down on owned websites and online properties.

A bold, no-nonsense approach. I expect nothing less from the makers of Jack Daniels. Cheers!

We’ve entered the rational next phase of social media’s evolution, where smart marketers are able to contextualize what social is, and what it’s not. Let’s remember the alternative: the dreaded microsite, AKA brand graveyard. If you build it, they won’t necessarily come. No, this is not about either investing in social media or your owned media assets. It’s about social channels and owned channels working in tandem: attracting, engaging, and re-engaging people throughout the customer journey.



Social media is an incredible way to introduce customers into your purchase funnel, driving highly targeted audiences toward owned online properties. Through precision demographic and interest-based targeting, marketers are able to take the guesswork out of customer attraction.

While funneling customers to your site on Facebook is highly effective, customer attraction doesn’t have to be relegated to the platforms alone. Socially connected websites and mobile applications are an incredibly powerful way to drive consideration and generate authentic engagement. Through deep social integration, owned and “leased” can feed into each other, making the migration from one to the other seamless. The Open Graph continues to power transitions from owned to “leased” properties, acting as a gateway for discovery through mobile and open Web apps alike.

Though getting people to your owned channels is important, it’s only half the battle. You can put the majority of your effort into a website, but what happens when that site only converts 5% of its visitors?

When it’s time to re-engage that other 95%, that “leased” channel starts to look pretty good again. While customers may not come back to your site organically, I’m willing to bet they’ll be on Facebook again in the next 24 hours without any prodding. Facebook’s retargeting capabilities are more advanced now than ever before, with Website Custom Audiences and FBX allowing granular, real-time advertising, and Facebook’s newly announced Audience Network working outside the confines of traditional social advertising.

Sure, you can reshift focus to owned channels, ideally with deep social connectivity. These are, and will continue to be, where your customers need to end up in order for you to grow your business. Don’t forget about “leased” properties, however. Compelling content, directed to relevant audiences, always has -- and always will --drive intent.

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