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All of us who use social media for marketing purposes know it can be a bit confusing. Apparently, there are perfect times to post, better key words for increased sharing, and entire formulas for scheduling consistency.

I’ve been in the social media game for 5 years now – representing big and small companies online – and let me tell you, it ain’t easy. You gotta earn it. Not only by knowing what, when, and where to share – but  by creating a personal, creative, and trustworthy brand.

Our customers, our homies, our peeps are on the other side of the screen having conversations about brands they love, experiences with customer service, or products they recommend. I ask myself daily, how can my company be a part of those conversations?

Good thing there are people who study social media like IT’S THERE JOB.


And it is. I’ve known the peeps at Inside Social for a while now. It’s good to have real-life friends that can help you navigate the online social world. 

Below, Jordan Con, Marketing Manager at Inside Social, explains why you should focus on EARNING your social engagement. Yes, Inside Social has developed strategies aimed at getting your fans and customers to choose to share your company’s products or services with their friends. YES.


Let’s start with 7 reasons why earned social is the key to social marketing success:

1. It all starts with earned social. Social media is social. Duh. People don’t join sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to see the great new copy from their favorite brands (paid and owned social). They joined to share and converse with each other–with friends, family, peers. Because brands are intensely involved in peoples’ lives, they frequently come up in natural conversation. Friends talking with friends – that is earned social at its core.

2. Earned social gives you access to completely new customer insights. Social is basically word of mouth, only digital, with every action tied to a user and connected to a network of peers, resulting in rich actionable data. But the majority of this doesn’t happen on brand pages and posts, it happens in messages between friends or in the spontaneous musings of a tweet. Earned social measurement captures these, giving marketers an unprecedented view into their customers’ preferences.

3. Truly native advertising is possible through earned social. For several years brands have been trying to figure out how to best disguise their advertising within the context of the surrounding environment– this is known as native advertising. But even the best native ads are accompanied with “promoted” and “sponsored” warning labels. However, when a brand earns social shares from their fans, it’s truly native–it’s in their own words, in the right context, and without any marketing alarms.

4. Earned social redefines the influencer. The first wave of digital influencer marketing defined influencers by reach and interest. This top-down approach was great for finding people with large audiences around a given topic, but we can do better. If a brand can track who is sharing and how that translates to conversions, they can then find what we call “micro-mavens”–influencers who have small followings, but great efficiency at driving conversions. By themselves, micro-mavens may not do much, but tracking earned social allows brands to find and aggregate them, making them very powerful.

5. Earned social is a natural complement to paid and owned social. Earned social is a leading indicator of what will work in owned and paid. Content that is working organically is already validated by the people the brand wants to reach, giving marketers the ability to be confident when creating paid and owned content.

6. Earned social is a natural supplement to traditional marketing. We’re seeing this in the synergies between Twitter and TV with higher ad recall and the spreading of brand messages via Twitter further than TV could alone. Participating in the social conversation (earned social) isn’t taking away from traditional channels, it’s actually improving them.

7. Earned social gives your fans and followers a better user experience on social. Brands, intentionally or not, are treating social like traditional channels, which is why consumers are using brands’ social pages primarily to find promotions and deals. But that’s not what they want. A recent study by the CMO Council found that consumers want to converse and interact with other customers and share their experiences. A focus on earned social does just that. When brands view their content from a “will this encourage fans to converse with others?” lens, consumers will get less spam, and more creative and useful information.

Need more? Of course you do. For a deeper discussion of these 7 reasons and how to improve your Earned Social efforts, download Inside Social’s free e-book, An Introductory Guide to Earned Social: The Foundation for the Future of Social Marketing.

UP Global, Startup Weekend