Subscribe for digital marketing insights
delivered to your inbox weekly!

What do Oreo cookies, Ellen DeGeneres, and Wendy's have in common? It’s not a weird wig or your favorite guilty pleasure—they all have tweeted some of the most retweeted tweets in the entire world! These tweets have earned billions of dollars of media publicity through timeliness, thoughtfulness, and creativity. Just to be clear, I’m not talking about your PR team’s proactive media placement– that’s another story.  So why do you need to know about earned media? Because anyone can do it for free.


But What is Earned Media?

earned media

Earned media is any marketing or publicity that is not paid. Remember Oreo’s tweet “You can still dunk in the dark” when the lights went out at Super Bowl XLVII? Or Ellen DeGeneres selfie at the 2014 Oscars (the most retweeted tweet in the world)? Each post caused a flurry of media stories online, in print and on TV. People were talking about these events weeks even years after they occurred… And look, we’re still talking about them today!

Don’t confuse earned media with an awesome boosted Facebook post or the viral YouTube mention you paid for. That isn’t earned media, it’s what us PR Folk call paid or owned media. You need to know about earned media so you can take advantage of both paid and unpaid opportunities for promoting your brand.


So How Can Earned Media Help You and Your Business?

earned media

You might ask yourself, “great so how can I get earned media to work for me?” Use your company’s platform to your advantage to create a conversation starter. Think about what your audience likes to see or talk about. Figure out what is relevant and relatable to them. Then, use this research to pull at their heartstrings or make them laugh out loud. Creating great content that people want to share is a great way to boost your word of mouth marketing. Sharing in social media is powerful. For someone to believe in your content so much that they would republish it means that you've found something that resonates with them.

And someone sharing your post means that post goes out to a totally new network of people, along with the vouching from your fan who reposted. Shared content gains you support and trust since it's been vouched for by someone else. In fact, according to inPowered and Nielsen, 85% of consumers regularly or occasionally seek out trusted expert content (credible, third-party articles, and reviews) when considering a purchase.


Recognize Opportunities to Engage

Always seek out opportunities to recognize followers engaging with your content. One teen from Reno tweeted at Wendy's asking how many retweets it would take for him to get free chicken nuggets for a year. Most companies would ignore it, some might even think it was annoying or spammy. But not Wendy's– they responded with the challenge of 18 million retweets to free nugget heaven.  While he didn't reach the goal, he beat out the Twitter retweet record held by Ellen Degeneres of 3,430,242. Wendy's bestowed him with the free nuggets anyway while also making a sizable donation to a nonprofit organization in his honor.

This is the heart of why you need to know about earned media. Don't miss these free opportunities to connect with your followers and fans. Learn more about how Social Engagement & Customer Care can ensure that you never miss another earned media opportunity. A little recognition goes a long way and can be an investment in your media efforts.


Keep Up the Momentum 

To keep people excited about you, make sure to engage with your social media family. Use your company’s unique voice to humanize your brand. Making your customers feel special will encourage them to continue to share your content, building strong brand loyalty. You never know… your thoughtful response might just get enough attention to become a solid piece of earned media!

Fernanda Yee Soto
Fernanda Yee Soto

As our Associate Creative Director, Copy, Fernanda helps shape the voice and narrative of our clients' blogs, social media content, and ad campaigns. She’s always driven to find the perfect word, either in English or Spanish. She’s been working in radio, tv, media, and copywriting for 10 years. She graduated with a bachelor's degree in Communications from the Autonomous University of Baja California.