Greg Verdino recently blogged about the apparent differences between “earned media” and “earned attention”. The former garners a great deal of coverage on the world wide web, including its own entry on Wikipedia. The latter may as well be a tree falling in the forest when no one’s around. He goes on to explain, in great detail and elaboration, the difference between the two. Earned media is “any effort by which a marketer gains unpaid publicity through either mainstream outlets like television, radio or print, digital outlets like traditional web publishers, or social media outlets like blogs, communities, forums or podcasts.” Meanwhile, earned attention is a far more challenging target. The goal should not be to simply throw your brand into the faces of as many onlookers as possible, but rather to really engage their attention – to give them a voice, and let them be heard. The goal is to award customers that are willing to stop, listen and speak with your own willingness to listen to what’s being said. It requires so much more of the brand, and so much more of the messengers that have been dispatched to sing praises.
Of course, I’m simplifying a much longer and fascinating read, which you can find here.
More and more, we push to use our social platforms to ask consumers the important questions – the dangerous questions – and it is understandable when there is a resistance against putting mass audiences into the position of being able to publicly criticize and ultimately customize a product for themselves. But the fear misses the point – giving consumers the opportunity to express honest feedback, positive or negative, awards them with the relationship they want from the brand. And that is the purpose behind it all. Social media is about being social. It is about developing relationships. And relationships, much like effective communication, are two-way streets.