Earned media is when customers endorse their brand favourites through positive, and sometimes negative, online engagement. A customer may take the time to write a positive review on a social media site; they make take the time to give a hotel or restaurant a 5 star rating online; or they may simply create a post to social media ranting or raving about their recent experiences.
Brands cannot force their customers to provide positive earned media, hence the name EARNED MEDIA. That reason alone gives potential customers the trust that what 9 out of 10 current customers have raved about is true. For example when Starbucks or Tim Hortons beings in their seasonal Pumpkin Spice Late and you see all the raves about the month of October because your family, friends, and acquaintances can now go and buy a Pumpkin Spice Late it makes you wonder, Are they really that good? Should I go buy one? More often than not you will find yourself standing in line to buy that Pumpkin Spice Late everyone has been raving about.
Anytime you can get people to talk about your brand, good and bad, it is earned media. As long as people are talking about your brand you are earning media. Although not all of the earned media can be or is positive it is how you handle those small percentages of bad earned media that can advance your brand. When a customer has a poor or bad experience with your brand you can be sure that it will be posted all over their social media platforms. If you can genuinely handle those instances with respect and honour you may have the opportunity to increase the level of respect customers have about your brand. No bad experience has to stay as a negative with your brand. Take that frown and turn it upside down.
In my opinion no earned media is bad media, as long as people are talking about you it gives you the opportunity to enter into a new customers life. The good earned media will always be positive and productive. The bad earned media gives you the opportunity to prove to your current and potential customers that you have the will to correct any wrongs that may have occurred. The way you handle this type of situation can be the deciding factor between losing a customer or gaining a life long brand loyal customer. Always find the good that lies in that bad because there is always a decision you can make that may be the deciding factor in your brand reputation.
Earned media is exactly that, earned recognition from your customers. Always keep in mind that you have the power to be the final influencer on how those customers will promote your brand with earned media.