When Earned Media Becomes Performance Marketing

“Performance marketing: creating awareness with the satisfaction of quantitative results.”

TL;DR There isn’t a channel that marketing can’t manipulate innovate [rebuttal coming up next…]

Remember when Facebook began throttling reach across the audiences they encouraged brands to build? Frustrating but not damning. As marketers, the ‘no such thing as a free lunch’ mantra is learned early and repeated often – as what worked yesterday will never work the same way tomorrow. Thriving in the face of a challenge, marketing finds a way to ensure platforms and technology work for us to fulfill our bottom-line success metrics. 

Consider the innovative ways marketers are using earned media as a performance marketing lever to pull. Stepping outside the relationship between media and PR, we’re talking about user-generated content, or UGC. Brands have direct touchpoints with consumers via social media, particularly Instagram and TikTok. What began as the simple ability for consumers to tag brands in posts and stories has grown to a viable brand marketing channel with thousands of user generated posts. And just as marketing turned to tech when social media needed automation, brands are turning to LoudCrowd to automate UGC growth.

Leveraging UGC, or earned social, isn’t new but many brands started and stopped at influencer marketing – which was once a natural next step as social platforms began to throttle audience reach. But even influencers have their limitations. Whether they pivot their personal brand focus, are throttled themselves, or get out of the game altogether, influencer marketing has become more difficult to navigate. With product sent to new consumers (and the potential of influencer marketing gone wrong), to organizing contracts and fees, and standardizing analytics, the impact of influencer marketing is diminishing, while UGC is being leveraged to organically grow a brand through genuine interactions and trustworthy earned social content.

An incredible example is LoudCrowd user, Gymshark. As Gymshark grew their brand, they created a “family” that shared their same passion for fitness…along with a vision to grow into something bigger than themselves. Now, Gymshark’s athletes are all part of long-term ambassadorships, rather than one-off sponsorships, and they truly feel a part of the brand. [via AspireIQ]

From Stephanie O’Neill, Gymshark’s Head of PR, “It’s all about being authentic. The vast majority of Gymshark ambassadors were once fans and consumers of the brand. Who better to represent the brand than those who actually love Gymshark?”

To drop another marketing cliche, ‘if you don’t measure it, you can’t manage it’ and UGC is far too valuable to let run wild. Brands like Gymshark have figured out how to wield this digital channel to build one of the fastest growing athletic apparel brands in the world. They were early adopters in UGC; they realized the authenticity in posts from customers was not only more trusted among their fan base but it also came with exponential audience growth. Figuring out measurement is a key first step, but understanding how to grow UGC is the most impactful thing B2B and DTC brands need to see the results they’re seeking.

Savannah Sachs, CEO of TULA Beauty, said it best…

“Influencer” has been a hot topic and buzzword, but the way we do it is different from others. Instead of using it like an earned media channel, we look at it like a performance marketing channel like paid Facebook ads. We see it as a social selling distribution channel…”

The first aha! moment in a LoudCrowd demo is when we show brands all the organic UGC they already have working for them. Every single brand, even the newest and smallest ones, have UGC from excited, loyal customers. The next step is understanding the audience and doing something with it. Consider brands like Yeti – who get hundreds of UGC posts a day! That’s a lot of potential sitting there, but trying to manually choose what content to repurpose or which people are creating the most valuable content for their brand is a time-drain and inexact science. With LoudCrowd, brands can do this all quickly and with conviction. Unlock the ability to measure, track, reward, and give as much to your UGC audience as your audience gives to you. Just like any good PR campaign, earned media is still earned. And innovative brands understand that the key to audience growth is through their fans and customers.

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