Paid, Earned, Shared, and Owned Media for B2B: A Curated Guide


marketer leveraging paid earned shared and owned media

Paid, earned, shared, and owned media are four distinct but interconnected channels that B2B businesses can leverage to enhance their marketing efforts and achieve their goals. Understanding how each of these channels operates and how they intertwine is vital for crafting a comprehensive marketing strategy that optimizes reach, engagement, and conversions.

Understanding the concepts of paid, earned, shared, and owned media provides B2B businesses with a solid foundation to effectively tackle digital marketing and social media trends. These four interconnected channels act as essential building blocks for a comprehensive marketing strategy that leverages the latest trends to achieve business objectives. 

Social media trends often revolve around real-time engagement and personalized interactions. By grasping the nuances of owned, earned, and shared media, B2Bs can optimize their social media presence to cater to these trends. Engaging with customers promptly, responding to inquiries, and actively participating in industry conversations demonstrate the brand’s commitment to its audience, fostering stronger connections and loyalty.

So let’s break it down: 

Paid Media

Paid media involves investing financial resources to promote your B2B brand or content through various channels. This can include online advertising, social media ads, sponsored content, search engine marketing (SEM), display ads, and more. By strategically allocating your budget, you can reach your target audience effectively and increase brand awareness. Paid media allows you to have control over your messaging and targeting, enabling you to precisely reach the right people at the right time.

Retargeting, also known as remarketing, is a powerful digital marketing technique in paid media strategies that allows businesses to reconnect with users who have previously interacted with their website or shown interest in their products or services. By using retargeting strategies, businesses can display targeted ads to these past visitors as they browse other websites or social media platforms, keeping their brand at the forefront of the audience’s mind. While retargeting can be a cost-effective way to drive conversions and boost consumer lifetime value, its effectiveness depends on the implementation of the right strategies.

Looking for some paid media inspo? We like to look at what has done well and how we can learn from it. The 2023 Super Bowl ads offer some great ideas: 

Earned Media

Earned media refers to the organic exposure and recognition your B2B brand receives through third-party sources without direct financial investment. It includes positive media coverage, reviews, customer testimonials, social media mentions, influencer endorsements, and word-of-mouth referrals. Earned media is earned through delivering exceptional products, services, or content that resonates with your target audience. By building strong relationships with customers, industry influencers, and the media, you can generate valuable earned media, which enhances your brand credibility and trustworthiness.

But, of course, earned media is only valuable if you actually use it. Put those press hits to work on your social media, in newsletters, on your website, and throughout the sales funnel. Here’s how: 

Earned Media on Social Media

Social media platforms are invaluable channels for distributing and amplifying your digital PR efforts. When your brand secures positive media coverage, press mentions, or other notable PR wins, share these achievements across your social media profiles. Craft engaging posts that highlight the key points of the coverage, tag the publications or journalists involved, and use relevant hashtags to expand the reach.

By sharing PR successes on social media, you not only extend the life of the media placement but also showcase your brand’s authority and credibility to your followers. Additionally, if influential industry figures or thought leaders engage with your posts, it can further boost your brand’s visibility and reputation.

Earned Media in Brand Newsletters

Your email newsletter is a valuable asset to communicate directly with your audience. Incorporate your PR placements into your newsletter to keep subscribers informed and engaged. Summarize the media coverage or link to the full articles to provide your audience with valuable insights.

Newsletters are an excellent platform to establish thought leadership and demonstrate industry expertise. When your audience sees that your brand is recognized and featured in reputable publications, it reinforces the trust they have in your products or services.

Earned Media in the Sales Funnel

Integrating PR content into your sales funnel can significantly impact potential customers’ decision-making process. At the top of the funnel, use PR placements to attract and capture the attention of new leads. Display positive press mentions on your website’s homepage or landing pages to create a positive first impression for visitors.

As prospects move further down the funnel, you can use PR content as part of your lead nurturing efforts. Share relevant articles or media coverage that address pain points or showcase your brand’s unique selling points. This helps build credibility, trust, and ultimately encourages prospects to convert into customers.

Earned Media on Brand Websites

PR placements can establish your website as a credible source of information and expertise in your industry. Utilize these opportunities to share valuable insights, expertise, and perspectives on relevant industry topics through your website’s content. Publish press releases, media coverage, and thought-provoking articles that showcase your knowledge and experience.

By showcasing your PR successes on your website, you enhance your brand’s reputation and attract attention from potential clients, partners, and investors who visit your site. This can lead to increased engagement, longer time spent on your website, and more opportunities for conversions.

And of course, in order to nail press opportunities when you get them, you’ll need some media training

Shared Media

Shared media revolves around engaging your audience and encouraging them to share your content across various platforms, such as social media, blogs, forums, and online communities. This involves creating valuable and shareable content, such as informative articles, infographics, videos, or interactive tools. 

Shared media amplifies your reach exponentially as your audience becomes brand advocates, spreading your message to their own networks. It fosters brand loyalty and creates a sense of community around your B2B brand.

The most important thing to remember about shared media? Dark social

Traditionally, social media platforms have been the primary spaces where users both consume content and engage in conversations about that content. However, with the evolution of communication methods and the rise of private messaging platforms, such as Slack, WhatsApp, Signal, and direct messaging on social media platforms, there has been a distinct separation between content consumption and communication about that content.

Dark social refers to the sharing of content through private channels, where the referral source is not easily trackable by analytics tools. In other words, when users share content via these private channels, the data related to the source of the referral is obscured or appears as “direct traffic” in analytics reports. As a result, the true extent of social media engagement and content sharing is underestimated or remains “in the dark.”

The impact of dark social on B2B marketing strategies can be significant. Since many B2Bs heavily rely on social media engagement metrics, they may incorrectly perceive their social strategy as failing when they see low engagement numbers. However, the reality might be that engagement is happening, but it is occurring through dark social channels, making it difficult to attribute it directly to the original content.

To address the challenge posed by dark social, businesses need to recognize its existence and adapt their marketing strategies accordingly:

Implement Shareable Links: Encourage the use of shareable links that include UTM parameters or tracking codes. This can help track the traffic coming from private messaging platforms and gain insights into dark social sharing behavior.

Embrace Dark Social Channels: Instead of solely focusing on public social media platforms, consider incorporating dark social channels into your marketing tactics. This could involve creating content specifically for private messaging apps or building communities within those apps.

Use Messaging Apps for Customer Support: Private messaging apps can be excellent channels for providing personalized customer support. Engaging with customers through these apps can foster a sense of trust and loyalty.

Invest in Content Worth Sharing: Create high-quality, valuable, and share-worthy content that users will naturally want to share with their colleagues and peers.

Leverage Influencers: Partner with influencers or industry experts who have a significant presence on private messaging platforms to extend the reach of your content through these channels.

Owned Media 

Owned media refers to the digital assets and channels that a company or individual has full control over. These assets include websites, blogs, social media profiles, email lists, mobile apps, and other platforms that are owned and operated by the brand or individual. Unlike earned or paid media, owned media does not rely on third-party platforms or external endorsements.

Owned media can even be a channel or group that your brand manages to create community within your audience. For example, Discord, once a platform for gamers is now becoming a place for brands and companies to cultivate a new market of prospects.

But for B2Bs, having a well-designed website and accurate and compelling content is a great starting point.

By strategically combining paid, earned, owned, and shared media, B2B businesses can create a powerful marketing ecosystem. When these media types work together harmoniously, they generate a virtuous cycle, with each component reinforcing and complementing the others.


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