Media unfold
As does the lotus blossom
Content does converge

The number of digital channels available to marketers seems to increase every day, and it can be a challenge for content marketers to create an effective media mix. At the heart of every successful content marketing program is relentless optimization in the search for the perfect media blend.

Whether you’re split-testing a headline or allocating a multi-million dollar marketing budget, optimization is the ongoing process of making the best use of your financial and human resources. The best content marketers not only know how to map their content modules to business results; they know the relative value of the media channels they use.

One useful way to organize media for planning purposes has been called the POEM model – paid, owned and earned media. Thinking of your content marketing in these terms may be especially  helpful as the lines between paid, owned and earned media continue to blur. Here are some examples of paid, owned and earned media. Notice that the media types overlap, which some call converged media – and it seems to be converging more rapidly than ever before.

Paid media has its roots in traditional broadcast advertising. It’s interruption based, but can still be very effective for acquisition and awareness. It’s also a fast way to get started, and paid media is sometimes necessary to put our brand messages where they need to be to connect with target audiences. Downsides include zero control over keyword inflation or Facebook and Google’s latest algorithm changes. Over-reliance on paid media means lots of strategy changes and editorial gyrations.  Also, many prospects trust paid media less than earned and owned.

Owned media has come more into focus with the rise of content marketing, as brands have realized that they are all publishers, whether they like it or not. Owned media, like company websites, blogs, ebooks and infographics, can be great media to deliver the answers and solutions prospects want. One difference that separates content marketing’s top dogs from its average bears is lead nurturing, which is fueled by owned and earned media. Perhaps the best feature of owned media is the ongoing benefits of evergreen content. A blog post, ebook or website content that engages visitors month after month wins over a tweet or Facebook post every time.

Earned Media refers to the promotional power of having others recommend and share our content. It’s often the most powerful media you can’t buy because you’re relying on the inherent value and usefulness of your content to get people to share. Social proof – one of Robert Cialdini’s six principles of persuasion – happens when people rely on the actions of others to guide their behavior. It’s a powerful influencer both online and offline. People share content for various reasons – to help others, to appear intelligent, and to trigger reciprocity.  Brands should as well.

Just as financial investment portfolios should be consistently evaluated and reallocated to reduce risk and increase rewards, so should media portfolios. Your organization’s media represents a significant investment, so it only makes sense to reduce your risk and increase rewards. Got a strategy that’s poetry in motion for creating the perfect media blend? Speak your mind in the comments section below!