Shared Media as Defined by Marketing Experts

Where does shared media fit in?

Shared is one of the components of the PESO model: Paid. Earned. Owned. Shared. Let’s briefly define what we’re talking about:

  • PAID – advertising, native advertising, SEM, etc. You’re paying to be seen or heard. It’s interruptive, but it works pretty well when done right.
  • EARNED – when you see an article about your company in the mainstream media, a blog, or even a Facebook post, that’s a piece of Earned Media. You didn’t pay for it; your evangelism or existing reputation or activities have motivated an outsider to talk about you.
  • OWNED – while it may appear on “rented” properties like Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, etc., your owned media is the content you produced and distributed across your numerous communications channels.
  • SHARED – okay, now this one bothers me; this one is the reason for today’s post. What exactly is Shared Media?

Tell us you want paid media, we can create an ad campaign and arrange the media buy. Tell us you want earned media, and we can develop pitches that influence media mavens to talk about you. Tell us you want more owned media, and we can create a content schedule to account for blog posts, Instagram photos, Snapchat Stories, etc. Tell us you want Shared Media … and what are you asking us to create?

We understand that you want your Owned or Earned (or even Paid Media, e.g. native advertising) to be shared. And we can try to create or otherwise engender something WORTHY of sharing, but sharing is a behavior. Sharing is not a noun.

How do we define shared media?

We asked some of our friends to help us suss this out.

Frank Cutitta, a former president of the International Advertising Association and a graduate professor at Northeastern University (i.e., he’s smart), put it this way: “Shared media is that content which is SPECIFICALLY designed for user generated circulation. While shared media can happen organically or coincidentally, the most effective examples occur when the propensity for sharing is baked into the content. A VERY rudimentary example is pre-packaged twitter ‘sharelines’ or ‘click to tweet’ that are woven into content. But the real art is in building it into the broader aspects of content asset architecture….other than ‘Say Amen if you like this story.’”

Stuart Bruce, a respected PR pro in the UK, had this to say: “The more I explain PESO the more convinced I become it should be OEP-S as the priority is usually owned, earned, paid that can be shared.”

And  Christopher Penn suggested: “At the end of the day, I’ll be so bold as to say media is media. What we do describes it. If I put an infographic or an article on a flash drive – just the content, no navigation or attribution – can you tell me if it’s paid, owned, earned, rented, or shared? You can’t. It’s just text, a graphic, a sound file, or a video… Doubly so because the lines are blurred beyond recognition. If I use native ads to promote an earned piece and that ad appears on my website because I’m part of a DSP network and I want to retarget my visitors, is that media paid? Yes. Earned? Yes. Owned? Yes, when it’s on my website.”

How do we achieve shared media?

We live in a fascinating, first-ever world, in which anyone can publish anything, and anytime, online. That’s a remarkable and world-changing cultural feat on its own. But as noted in previous posts, it’s also led to a vast amount of dross. It’s really only content that is widely shared (or at least shared with the right people, e.g., well-targeted prospects) that can hope to make an impact… which leaves me with this conclusion: Shared Media is the most important in the PESO mix, but, you can’t truly create share-ability.

You need to earn it.

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