Earned Media Strategies for Scoring Super Marketing Touchdowns

Jonathan Gardner

Super Bowl Sunday is right around the corner, and marketers from big-spending brands are crossing their fingers, hoping their high-priced ad buys pay off. When the viral buzz subsides for the handful of broadcast spots that break through, major brands may notice that they’ve been outgunned by challenger brands. These young, upstart companies are more focused on earned media and not married to expensive traditional advertising tactics. They will win the marketing Super Bowl -- and grow market share year round -- by optimizing their earned media, social media and influencer marketing strategies.

While the viral benefits of a popular Super Bowl TV ad are still compelling in this age of scattershot audiences and advertising ADD, all the hype can mask an underlying truth: for the most part, paid media campaigns have become less effective. When the cheering of football fans subsides this year, major brands will have spent a bundle trying to do what challenger brands do all year long, more effectively and efficiently.

As a rule, challenger brands know that paid media has never been shown to be effective for shepherding consumers along the discover-to-buy pathway. The brands we work with know that networks like Pinterest and Instagram provide invaluable channels to get their products in front of the right audiences. But rather than backing away from paid media, they use it to support and enhance their earned media campaigns. Companies like ShareIQ have developed new tools that allow fast-moving, fast-growing brands to dig deep into who, what, where and how their visual content is shared and engaged with -- helping them to set smart marketing strategies that can be amplified with paid tactics and across their marketing mix.

Our customer base includes large, established brands, as well as newer ones. What they have in common is a conviction that the future of their brands will be won by making earned media strategies a more measurable, accountable and integrated part of their marketing programs.

The following are marketing best practices we’ve developed from working with top brands across a range of industries:

  • Take it Cross-Platform - It’s key to make sure your best visual content is utilized across social media platforms and posts. We’ve seen that Instagram is a great way to drive awareness and Pinterest is a great way to drive action. We recommend you optimize your tactics on both. That's something you can get started on now and have it pay off all through the new year.
  • Connect Paid and Earned - It’s important that brands get the highest performance from all their channels working in concert. With the ShareIQ platform, marketers can discover how a post performed over a period of time and what influence it had. They can then connect that with paid and earned channels: creating new content and promoting existing high-performers through ads. Did an influencer-seeded post suddenly go viral? It should be integrated into your paid campaigns. Do you want to do ad targeting and remarketing off social platforms based on who shared your posts? We have a tool that lets you use that data for maximum Super Bowl engagement.
  • The Right Influence -For many marketers, influencer programs are a major part of the brand discovery process. You should be engaging them throughout the year, getting into their hands the content you want seeded on social platforms. Tools like ShareIQ’s can help you identify the right micro- and macro-influencers to increase engagement with your visual content.
  • Use the Users -The best-performing brands break out their visual content strategy between brand-generated and user-generated content (UGC). Historically, user-generated content is slightly more trustworthy. Smart marketers make sure to not only post really visually appealing brand-generated content, but they are constantly on the lookout for the UGC that's getting the most likes and shares. Incorporating this content into your influencer strategy can be quite powerful, all year long.

It’s never too late to start optimizing your social media content to get more from your budget. Following these strategies can help you avoid a nasty Super Bowl marketing hangover.

Have a look at how top brands find hidden ROI from their earned media programs

Win the marketing Super Bowl by optimizing earned media, social media and influencer marketing strategies
Jonathan Gardner

Jonathan is vice president of marketing for ShareIQ, based in New York City.