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Generating Traffic with Paid and Earned Media

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This guest post was written by Murray Newlands. Murray is a social media and video marketing specialist and works with companies and individuals to develop and execute complete digital marketing strategies. He is an international speaker, blogger and head of the international social marketing media agency Influence People, based in downtown San Francisco. You can find him on Twitter @MurrayNewlands.

We All Want Traffic

Being able to generate traffic is something that is of paramount importance to anybody who is trying to make money online. Be it advertisers, publishers, or bloggers, the ability to drive large amounts of traffic can solidify a successful career. So, the question is, how do you drive traffic?

Let’s talk about generating traffic through two different types of media: paid media and earned media.

What Is Paid Media/Earned Media?

Paid media is essentially just your standard advertising—you pay directly for your content to be placed in front of people. On the other hand, earned media is defined as positive publicity that is gained through promotions that aren’t paid for directly like advertising. Basically, earned media is when your followers promote your products or services for you simply because they love your brand—it’s the product of well-executed paid and owned media strategies. We should also distinguish owned media, which consists of all of the channels you already own such as your website, company brochure, twitter account, blog, etc.

Paid-Owned-Earned-Mediaimage credit: http://pauldunay.com
How Should Paid Media/Earned Media Be Working For You?

Paid media can be a good way to generate new traffic to your site with great immediacy and control, however, you should try to use paid media as sparingly as possible, as it can become expensive if you are routinely using it to generate your traffic. If you are utilizing paid media correctly, it should help you create a large, engaged following fairly quickly and will hopefully evolve into earned media rather quickly. If you can successfully turned paid media into earned media, you can get a lot more traffic for “free.” If you are getting a lot of free traffic that your competitors aren’t, you will out-market them and grab a larger market share.

How Can You Be Successful With Paid Media/Earned Media?

In order to be successful at turning paid media into earned media, you need to truly understand earned media. Most successful earned media started out as paid media, used to “seed” the conversation and gain traction. Once you are able to captivate users and engage them via paid media, creating quality content and interactions should eventually lead to earned media.

Paid-EarnedIt’s worth noting that many people see all media as earned media. Press coverage, for example, requires time to craft and pitch stories; even a “free” Facebook page requires time to look after it.

In traditional media (printed newspapers), there was a clear line between ads and news, but the way people and brands use modern social media channels has changed all of that. Even sponsored content series such as those run by big news competitors such as Mashable have started to break down those walls.

Ultimately, an ad strategy that has a well-organized and tactical approach to the use of both paid and earned media will yield the most traffic for your site. If you are intelligently using paid media techniques, it should eventually morph into earned media. However, this won’t happen on its own—once you have gained a sizeable following, you must create relevant, engaging content that they will want to share. If you are able to do this, your fans will happily share your content, spreading the word of your brand to their network without any explicit reward. By cultivating a strong and engaged following, you will be able to strengthen your brand awareness with less and less paid advertisements, ultimately saving you money while also increasing your traffic—a definite win-win!

Side note: Google News has recently said that sponsored content should not be posted within its feeds, and Google Search has said that sponsored content should not be included with follow links from its own publication. However, there may be an exception when it comes to follow links from outside publications.

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