Rented and owned media go together like peas and carrots

Fergus Stoddart
By Fergus Stoddart | 24 September 2014
Fergus Stoddart, Managing Partner at Edge

Once upon a time, the solution to launching a campaign was as simple as: “Let’s add a squeeze page to our Facebook page.” But that was back in the days when you could actually build a community on Facebook.

Now it seems social media, irrespective of the platform, has become all about the newsfeed, how to get into it and be seen by as many of your target audience as possible.

And then the algorithms change, causing marketers everywhere to throw their hands up in exasperation. In the case of Facebook, posts that once reached thousands of fans and were then shared to hundreds and thousands of personal accounts now only show up in 2-5% of fans’ newsfeeds.

This has forced marketers to rethink their strategies and consider the rented media opportunities (such as social media and third party blogging sties) verses owned media (hosted blogs and websites).

In my opinion, the two go hand in hand.

Own the space

We are returning to a time before the heady days of social media engagement, when brands ‘owned’ their content and engaged with their audience via a website, emails or newsletters. The Facebook squeeze page that worked so well to boost customer relationships – and even took the place of brand websites in some cases – is just not cutting it anymore.

Instead of housing all content on rented channels, brands should be more tactical and establish their own content sites. Consider the Woolworths Toddler and Baby Club website as an example of creating a place where customers want to be. This site engages with its audience and builds a loyal customer base through helpful articles and recipes that are updated regularly so there is something new every visit.

Now, more than ever, it is easier and more cost effective for a brand to create and distribute its own high quality, engaging media. Instead of relying on third-party media platforms, brands need to take charge of their own content in order to gain word of mouth buzz, and allusive earned media.

Rethink renting to add value

While the social media algorithms may have changed the ways audiences interact with brands via rented media, it doesn’t mean these spaces should be discounted. Real time social marketing shows there is real value in continuing to drive content through the channels. Although, it has to be the right type of content.

To ensure you are creating a highly engaged audience, content must provide value and be sharable so it makes it into customers’ newsfeeds. And there is still a place for the promotional posts, but they need to be boosted via sponsorship to ensure they reach the larger audience needed to justify the investment.

Whether your content marketing strategy includes renting space via social media, publications or other websites (or all three), these third-party platforms should be used to amplify the branded content and drive traffic back to your own turf.

Getting real

To a large extent social media has replaced what used to be called the ‘water cooler moment’ – where at workplaces across the land, people gather around the water cooler to discuss the latest headlines (think the Brownlow red carpet fashion shocks) or must-see TV event (step forward The Block and Big Brother) to discuss, dissect and deliver their judgment on the action. Twitter and Facebook move this to real time, enabling people to comment and chat about what they are seeing or hearing as it happens.

Since the ‘Oreo moment’ at the 2013 Superbowl (retweeted 16,000 times and gaining Oreos an additional 8,000 new Twitter followers) – brands realised they could make almost as much noise with a single (free!) tweet as they could from the legendarily expensive ad slots around the TV event - brands have been falling over themselves to gatecrash any and every party.

‘Brand newsrooms’ have sprouted up to leverage any big news event – be it #royalbaby number two, the State of Origin or Sir Alex Ferguson’s resignation as Manchester United Manager (thanks #NandosFergieTime - retweeted 17,000 times and favourited 4,000 times).

Real time presents a powerful opportunity for brands to reach highly engaged audience in a very specific context – which is something that, for decades, brands have been paying media owners a fortune for.

Brands can have the best of both worlds: engagement on the channels their customers frequent, but this engagement must be harnessed so it leads back to the brand’s own platforms. Here the brand continues to tell the stories that have engaged the audience, but it also controls customer actions and the sales funnel.

It is no longer a case of rented verses owned media. To leverage the best results for your brand, the two need to work collaboratively if they are going to effectively obtain the exposure which drives engagement and results.

Fergus Stoddart
Joint Managing Partner

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