This marketing revolution will be tweeted and storied on Facebook by the users – not by ads, digital, & PR

July 29, 2012
Posted by: Peter Friedman, Founder, Chairman & CEO

Another very good Altimeter Report, The Converged Media Imperative: How Brands Must Combine Paid, Owned and Earned Media.
LiveWorld views this convergence as being less about the three categories of paid, owned, and earned coming together as it is about earned taking a dominant position in the paid and owned formats. That is to say, more and more social media marketing across formats will be driven by user content and user experience.
Most social media marketing today is not truly social. It’s traditional broadcast, digital, and PR being shoved at consumers through a social channel. True social is driven buy dialogue and relationships, first among users and then with the brand. We compare a brand’s social media marketing to a party: The brand is putting the party on; but the best party, the most memorable that keeps the attendees coming back for more, is about the guests’ experience with each other — their content and their interactions. In social, the role of the brand marketing is to plan and manage a good party. Like any host does, that means making sure the guests (customers) have a good time with each other. In our party metaphor, paid media, when deployed with traditional ad, digital, and PR approaches, consists of the invitations — important to have, but not the main driver. As paid, owned, and earned converge, this is not a matter of integrating traditional paid (ads/digital/PR ) with owned and earned, but rather how earned will dominate in new paid formats that are part of the user party model.
The Altimeter report suggests those vendors who integrate the trifecta of earned, owned, and paid will do well. We agree. But we see this as user content, dialogue, and relationship models (earned) being in a trifecta of formats: earned, owned, and paid — not somehow co-mingling the traditional ad, digital, and PR versions of paid we’ve already seen too much of in social channels.
Disclosure & Credentials: We’re the user content (earned) guys — the ones who make great brand parties in social media.  LiveWorld is a user content management company, with a platform and services that scales social media for global brands, including the #1 companies in each of retail, CPG, and pharma, among others. We are primarily focused on earned and owned media, developing the content flow first from and among users and also from the brand. This includes actually moderating, escalating, responding, and engaging with user content and deriving actionable insight from it. We currently deploy our platform and services to manage user content on over 4,000 Facebook Pages, Twitter Pages, and community web sites. (Note: LiveWorld is an Altimeter client.)
Altimeter rightly points out that effective marketing stands on the audience’s shoulders, brands need to focus on consumer conversation, and earned media is the most difficult of the three — yet the most powerful for achieving advocacy, loyalty, retention, and sales. It should only follow then that as brands come to realize earned media is the best way to achieve these results and the industry learns how to do it better, the attention and budgets will move this way.
Across our Fortune 100 clients we are seeing: 

  • Increasing focus on earned as the center of the marketing model, with paid (in the form of ads, digital, and PR) moving to a supporting role.
  • Execution of owned media becoming a container for earned media via the curation of and engagement with user content.
  • Execution of advertising beginning, just beginning, to be made up of owned media (brand content).  We believe this trend will evolve over time to execution also being made of earned media (user content). The most obvious examples of this are Facebook Sponsored Stories and Twitter Promoted Tweets. We now have hard data that each of these venues generates more response, more organic interactions (the key to viral marketing), and more engagement than traditional digital ad formats such as banners, display adds, page widgets, or even custom applications.

When Jeremiah first suggested that as a social media company specializing in earned and owned media LiveWorld would need to take on social media advertising, we resisted the idea. After all, we are great at managing user content and brand content in social for engagement, insight, and support. Why would we want to get into ad creative graphics and media plans? Then we realized this aspect of the convergence isn’t about creative graphics or advertising skills at all. It’s about extending our brand and user content programming skills into paid formats such as Sponsored Stories and Promoted Tweets. And so we are.
Peter Friedman,  Chairman & CEO, LiveWorld @peterfriedman  @liveworld