Owned media is defined as the set of communication channels/outlets that an entity (organization/individual) has complete control over. It includes properties such as websites, blogs, email newsletters, forums, and so on.
In this article, we'll look at the concept of owned media and how you can create an owned media process for your organization. We'll also discuss five best practices to maximize owned media success.
Organizations use the POEM (paid, owned, and earned media) model to drive brand awareness, distribute content, engage prospects, and guide them through the sales funnel.
Paid media attracts eyeballs, whereas earned media builds authority. And although paid and earned media are high-impact activities, organizations rely on owned media as the foundation to marshal their paid and earned media efforts.
Table of Contents
What Is Owned Media?
Owned media is the home to your content and acts as the guiding light to the POEM model. Since you exercise complete control over your owned properties, you have the freedom to tweak your content strategy and manage the publishing schedule according to the resource availability.
Owned media follows the pull marketing strategy (to increase demand for products), contrary to paid media. Rather than persuading the audience to take an action before providing them any value (push marketing), it first delivers the value, often in the form of content, and allows the audience to act anytime they want.
The success of the owned media strategy can create a domino effect on the POEM model. If you consistently produce value-driven, compelling content for your blog and other owned avenues, you can attract earned media in various formats such as interviews, guest posts, podcast invitations, exclusive newspaper/publication columns, and so on.
Learn More: What Is Earned Media? Definition, Attribution, Best Practices with Examples
Owned Media Channels
Representation of the Owned Media Channels
What are your options for advertising through owned media? In this section, let’s briefly look at the key types/examples of owned media:
1. Website, Blog, App
Your website and blog are your primary owned media. Your mobile app and mobile website are just as important. While the product and business model dictate the utility of mobile apps/websites, organizations can also use them to distribute content.
They are essential from the following perspectives:
- They act as a primary source to establish the brand voice and tone
- They are possibly the first avenue where your content will be published
- They can act as a press room/newsroom, an information source for your audience, or a medium to direct your traffic to your gated or third-party content
2. Email Marketing
A well-defined email marketing strategy can help you promote new content, product updates, email exclusive offers or courses, etc. directly to your subscribers. Email marketing acts as a piece of your web property that goes out to your audience with a call to action and to improve brand recall.
Learn More: What is Email Marketing? Definition, Tips, Strategies, Best Practices, Benefits and Examples
Although forums may have lost their edge due to the advent of social media platforms, they are still effective in building communities. Using self-hosted forum software, organizations can develop forums for themselves and initiate content distribution and community building activities.
4. Social Media Presence
Brands effectively use social media channels to create and distribute content. It can be done by creating either official profiles/pages or groups/communities on various social media platforms.
Note: Since social media isn’t a property of organizations, it can’t exactly be considered a part of owned media. Organizations have control over their pages and groups, but they’re governed by the rules and terms of service of platforms. Therefore, social media is considered a shared media, and thus, many organizations use the word PESO (paid, earned, shared, and owned) to refer to the various types of media.
Learn More: What Is Social Media Marketing? Platforms, Strategies, Tools, Benefits and Best Practices
Crafting an Owned Media Process
Representation of the Owned Media Process
You need to be consistent with your owned media activities to view results. In this section, we look at a five-stage workflow to craft an owned media process for your organization.
Stage 1: Pre-planning
Before planning and executing content creation activities, comes the pre-planning phase, where we define our goals and research our audience and competition. Here are four steps to follow in this stage:
1. Define Your Goals: Knowing what success would look like will allow you to reverse engineer your goal to identify the resource you’d require, what type of content needs to go out, how much you’d need to spend on distribution, and what metrics you need to measure.
Rather than setting audacious or intangible goals, you can set goals in one of the two ways:
- SMART Goals: SMART is an acronym for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-bound. An example of SMART goals can be, “The website will grow its organic traffic by 20% by December 31, 2019.”
- OKR: The Objectives and Key Results (OKR) framework is used by tech giants such as Google, Uber, Twitter, and LinkedIn. OKRs consist of clearly defined goals and their concurrent key results. So, for a goal such as increased website traffic by 20%, the key result could be increased email click rate by 30%, organic visits by 15%, and direct traffic by 15%.
2. Research Your Audience: Do you know whom you’re going to create content for? It’s wise to spend a reasonable amount of time performing audience research to understand pain points and how your content can solve problems. Instead of writing for the entire audience, create tiny subsets, i.e., persona, and then create laser-focused content.
It’s also worth knowing where they go to read content so that you know where to publish your content and their accompanying formats.
3. Research Your Competition: Find out what the successful competitors in your field are doing. Visit their website and social media accounts to see what type of content they’re creating. Search top management of these competitors to see how they’re using owned media to establish thought leadership in the market.
4. Choose a Content Management System (CMS): A CMS will allow you to organize your content efficiently. As the scope of your content creation grows, you can invest in a digital asset management (DAM) or digital content experience platform.
Stage 2: Developing a Content Strategy
The content planning phase consists of a content audit, resource assessment, and creating an editorial calendar. Here are three steps to follow in this stage:
1. Perform a Content Audit: Have you been running content initiatives before? If so, take stock of your content and analyze its performance. Notice the following:
- What type of content received maximum shares on social media?
- What content drove significant traffic but saw fewer conversions?
- What content received maximum traffic? Find patterns and possible reasons they performed well
- Is there something that your competitor is successfully doing, and you’re not?
2. Assess Your Resources: How big is your current content team? Be clear on who is taking care of strategizing, designing, writing, editing, publishing, and promoting content. If you don’t have a dedicated content team, evaluate the option of outsourcing your content creation.
3. Create an Editorial Calendar: Based on the audience research, content audit, and resource availability, prepare an editorial calendar that provides a visual timeline of content activities for each team member. You can use a spreadsheet or a project management tool such as Trello or Asana to create your editorial calendar.
Stage 3: Content Creation Workflow
This is the stage where you begin executing your plan. Let’s look at the key steps in the content creation stage.
- Keyword Research: There is an intent behind every research. Keyword research is more about understanding that intent than identifying a bunch of keywords to rank for. When you know why a prospect is searching for a particular query, you can figure out whether they’re looking for a solution to a problem or wanting to buy a product. There are plenty of keyword research tools available such as Google Keyword Planner, Moz, or Ubersuggest.
- Writing the Content Piece: The writing process includes researching the idea, defining the structure, writing the piece, formatting it for better consumption, proofreading the draft, and tweaking it from an SEO perspective.
- Adding the Design Elements: Based on the creative brief, the designer will create visuals such as images, infographics, GIFs, or videos for the piece.
- Publishing the Content Piece: After adding the visual content in the first draft, the editor tweaks the written part for clarity and conciseness. After final corrections, the article goes live.
Tip: Different types of content have different utilities. For example, a downloadable PDF will have a longer shelf life compared to a standard blog post. Make sure to strike the right balance between different content formats. This way, you’ll be able to optimize your content creation activities even with a relatively smaller team.
Stage 4: Content Distribution
Owned and shared properties such as email lists, social media accounts, groups, and forums are excellent distribution channels. Along with these, you can use the following earned and paid media channels to distribute your content.
- Outreach: If you have published a research report, industry analysis, or the state of reports, you can send them to journalists and industry publications for to have it included in their work. Getting featured in a reputed publication will earn you credibility in the industry.
- Collaboration: You can work with a complementary product/service provider in the industry to publish unique content that would help both of you grow your reach
- Paid Ads: Use social media, display advertising and native advertising to promote your owned media efforts across the internet.
Learn More: What Is Content Distribution? A Complete Guide for Marketers
Stage 5: Measurement and Feedback
In this stage, you evaluate the performance of your content activities and make necessary tweaks to improve their performance. Content analysis should be a routine activity (weekly, monthly, quarterly, and annually) to get timely updates and identify trends. Following are the ways to analyze content:
- Quantitative Analysis: Use analytics tools such as Google Analytics, Kissmetrics, or Adobe Analytics to get numerical/objective analysis of your performance.
- Qualitative Analysis: Using tools such as VWO, Hotjar, or Optimizely, can show you user behavior through heatmaps, session recordings, and form analysis.
- A/B Testing: You can introduce A/B tests to optimize content performance.
What is B2B Content Marketing? Definition, Strategy, Trends and Examples
5 Best Practices for Owned Media Success
Representation of the Best Practices for Owned Media Success
Once you craft an owned media strategy for your brand and establish the workflow, you can accelerate the process of getting results by following these five owned media best practices:
1. Act Like an Industry Publication Firm
For publishing companies, the content they produce is their product. It’s what brings them revenue. Organizations, often, create content with the brand as the focus. On the other hand, publishing firms compulsively create content that helps their target audience.
Let’s look at publishing companies as an intermediary. The role of an intermediary is to balance the information asymmetry between the demand (audience) and supply (organizations) sides. Publication companies bridge this information asymmetry by providing content for the demand side. For instance, an online publication might write about how to use a social media tool (the supply side) aimed towards social media managers (the demand side).
“What’s in it for the readers?” is the best way to provide value to your audience through your owned properties.
2. “Hack” Social Media Platforms
Social media platforms keep experimenting with new ways to ensure users stick around. They might introduce a new algorithm that makes certain content go viral without any promotion or encourage a certain content format. On most platforms, images were all the rage in 2012-2016, whereas 2017 onwards has been the age of videos. Even with videos, you can notice a gradual shift in the type and duration. Earlier, whiteboard videos gained massive traction, followed by animated videos, and so on. Mobile exclusive platforms such as Instagram and Snapchat promoted vertical videos.
It’s often a tiny window of opportunity, and once you know what is trending, you can create content in those formats to increase your chances of organically growing your reach.
3. Experiment with New Content Formats
There’s lots of content on the internet. If you want to be noticed in the crowd, you need to stand out. Therefore, experiment with different content formats rather than following the cookie-cutter approach. With the growing adoption of podcasts and streaming services, try out podcasts and measure its success.
Throw multiple options against the wall and see what sticks. Images and videos are proven to get higher engagement. The debut of the 5G network signals the mass adoption of augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) on the horizon. The earlier you start to experiment with these formats, the sooner you’ll know what works.
4. Stay Abreast of the Latest Developments in SEO
Major search engines continually improve their algorithms for better user experience. Therefore, it’s necessary to stay on top of the latest happenings in the field of SEO. For instance, due to the rapid emergence of voice search, search engines encourage conversational content. Similarly, Google very recently made an announcement about adding two new attributes to nofollow links.
Also, be wary of the SEO advice you read. For example, there’s a lot of misinformation surrounding the Google’s page ranking factors. A great way to dodge search engines penalizing your owned media is by sticking to best practices and experimenting with unverified advice on a small scale before implementing it across the website.
5. Create a Content Hub
In the age of information overload, the content experience you provide will help visitors find the information they need. The content experience framework consists of content organization, personalization, and engagement and relationship nurturing.
When a visitor lands on your website, it’s an opportunity to convert them into a customer. You need to guide them through their buyer journey, and well-organized content delivers the right content at the right time. A Centralized Content Repository segregated into different categories with correct tags and formats will enable you to provide the highly personalized stream of content to users based on their preferences.
Learn More: Top 20 Content Marketing Strategies For Your 2020 Plan
The Bottom Line
Building your owned media empire takes time and effort, and there’s no alternative to this. Considering the current marketing landscape, paid ads are getting expensive, and banking on earned media doesn’t guarantee success.
Since you keep the control and ownership of your owned content, it makes sense to hedge your bets on your owned media properties.
Which is your favorite brand that has nailed its owned media strategy? Tell us on LinkedIn, Facebook, or Twitter.