What’s in a gift?

Earned versus paid-for content

The best content in the world – whether that’s a written piece like this one, a great social media campaign or a video – serves no purpose unless it’s in front of the right audience.

Gone are the days where you would rely on any one strategy alone. The magic now lies in using a pick ‘n’ mix of strategies that add value individually but work even better in unison.

In this connected world, it has never been easier to get your message out there. There are two main ways of getting your content to the right people: earned and paid-for content. Let’s look at the difference between the two and how they can work together.

You get what you pay for

Paid-for content is fairly self-explanatory; it’s anything you pay for. It could come in the form of paying an influencer to promote your brand, pay-per-click advertising, a powerful Place North West email campaign, or a great piece of “advertorial”.

Paid-for content can be a great way to get you moving from a standing start if you don’t already have an organic following. It can work brilliantly at building up momentum, promoting your content, and driving further earned engagement. And – music to our ears – they are very, very measurable. You can instantly see the return on your investment.

The gift that keeps on giving

Earned content is all the organic traction your content can produce. Shares, mentions, reviews, comments, likes – however content is shared across social media. It’s the digital version of word of mouth and helps to more authentically grow your audience and create a buzz around your brand.

However, as is to be expected, earned content relies on good ranking and strong writing. Whereas with paid content you get the added push you’re paying for, earned content relies more on your own skill, experience and value – this can take time to grow.

A winning combination

It’s like wine and chocolate (both excellent gifts). We can’t say one is better than the other. They each have their pros and cons, and your preference will come down to your needs.

But the main difference between the two lies in what you want to achieve. If you are a new brand, have a new service offer to promote or a new idea that needs some help in gaining an audience, an investment in paid content is probably what you need. It will also give you more control. For example, if you’re paying an influencer, you know the messaging will be largely positive. However, with earned content, you’re putting the control in the hands of your audience and run the risk of any mixed responses that come with that.

Put simply: you can pay someone to publish your article or you can make it good and interesting enough that someone wants to cover it. There will be a moment for each.

As we said at the beginning, marketing is no longer a single strategy game. The best players maintain a smooth, integrated approach to their content. Striking a balance between earned and paid-for content can help grow your audience and maintain momentum – think of it like the perfect pairing of turkey and cranberry sauce on Christmas Day.

The joy is in the giving

Seeing as we’ve reached the season of giving and goodwill, it’s important to consider how you thank those who have given you an extra push this year.

When someone does you a favour – perhaps appearing at your talk or contributing to an article, paid for or otherwise – you need to say thank you properly. Like you would with any gift, show your appreciation for their support on your journey.

If you want to find a fresh new combined marketing strategy that works for you, drop us a call today!

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