Social Media Best Practices: Owned, Earned, and Paid Content
I am certain that you have heard that “content is king” even if you’ve read only a smattering of digital marketing blogs. No alternate position on content not being king will be presented here. However, “content”, by itself, won’t keep the throne unless it continues to evolve and strategize on how to retain its prized position before another player usurps the rank.
That uprising royal is OEP content, and its imperial reign is on the verge of being upon us all (evil laugh).
What Is OEP Content?
All metaphors aside, content marketing’s reign built on frequency, accuracy, and utility is not enough anymore. Content itself is evolving and a sound, digital content lineup has to follow suit. A business has to systematically distinguish the forms of content it should deploy and what ecosystems it should deploy those content types to online.
OEP Content plays into this evolution and has to do with a three-tiered strategy for social media best practices: owned, earned, and paid. While most effective in the social media realm of digital marketing, the principles of OEP content speak to the rising requirements on how user-generated content lynchpins the whole kingdom together.
At Blueprint, I have the pleasure of overseeing our growing social media department; OEP content is at the foundation of what we are trying to provide for our clients. Let’s look at how each of these three types fleshes out.
1. Owned Content is Free
Owned content refers to any free (or relatively inexpensive) piece of content that a company can create and publish. Publishing Facebook status updates or tweeting about trending topics are both types of owned content. One of the weaknesses I see with businesses using an owned content strategy is that they drop the ball by not taking owned content to the next level–they never curate content to their social channels from brands that align with who they are and what their customers want to see.
Once a piece of content has been uploaded into the social sphere, then it’s fair game to leverage that content to your own social channels if it is on brand. So, some of the juice in owned content is in the shared ownership of other’s content as well; curated content can go even farther than created content at times.
2. Earned Content is We
Earned content refers to any of the other content created as a result of your owned content: likes, comments, shares, retweets, direct messages, and reviews. The types of earned content, though, are not all created equal. Build a weighted scale of what types of content matter the most to your business (positive reviews should be at the top) and craft your owned content strategy around the types of posts that drive those soft conversions you’re seeking.
A good practice in your earned content strategy though is to “prime the pump” by continuing to re-engage active, earned content participants on the posts they are engaged with (i.e. mention commenters by name in your replies and ask more questions).
3. Paid Content is Key
Paid Content refers to any content you spend ad dollars on to promote: sponsored stories, website conversion ads, Twitter follower campaigns, etc. Let’s face it; when all of these social networks went all IPO on us having to pay to play was inevitable. But, paying to play is actually where you can gain a true advantage on the competition. Take extra precaution on your target audience when planning your ad campaigns.
Social networks enable people to answer questions about themselves that no surveys could ever ask; as advertisers, we are privileged to that information and can use the demo/sociographic info to our benefit. Of course, copy and creative are two other large proponents in a sound paid content campaign, but even a rudimentary campaign can garner quality traffic if it is displayed to the right audience.
At least for now, OEP Content is fast on the rise as the winning way to shape social media best practices; I imagine the principles of this content technique will bleed across other digital environments and most likely already do. Remember, Owned is Free, Earned is We, but Paid is Key–so, pony up the dollars to work with an agency if you don’t think you can wrangle the paid piece. We’d be happy to help.