A few years ago I ran across an article that stated the opinion that shared media had been assimilated by marketing. The point being that most social media posts were just marketing messages.
While posting on social media can be part of a marketing or even public relations (PR) plan, it seems like a rather broad statement to say that marketing has completely taken over social media.
It did bring in the bigger question of how shared media is used. Is it really just for marketing and PR messages or is it something more?
I see it as shared media as part of a bigger framework. If you visit often, you know that I’m talking about the PESO model which an integrated marketing communication model created by Gini Dietrich at Spin Sucks which is:
- Paid Media
- Earned Media
- Shared Media
- Owned Media
However, this isn’t a discussion about PESO. It’s about shared media and how it can help you reach your marketing goals. Today I am going to talk about three ways to just that.
First, let’s take a quick step back.
What Is Shared Media?
Shared media what you know as social media. You’re probably wondering why I am referring to shared media and not social media.
When you post on social media you are sharing content. It could be a picture, a video, an opinion, or an article. Thus, it makes more sense to call it shared media than social media.
Social media is referencing platforms. Shared media is referencing the action that is being taken.
What you choose to do with shared media is what makes the difference.
If there is one thing that the companies I follow on social media platforms are pretty good at, it’s distribution. You might call it self-promotion but regardless, it’s the same thing with the same goals: getting your content out into the world.
I know what you’re thinking. I talked in the introduction about how shared media should be more than marketing and then I lead with content distribution but bear with me.
As Ross Simmonds has pointed out on multiple occasions, many of us invest in creating content and then fail to distribute it. This begs question, why create content if you aren’t going to distribute it so people know about it?
Certainly, search engine optimization (SEO), has a part to play with people finding content but it’s not exactly distribution.
Distribution means sharing what you’ve created. You have followers and there likely is a reason for that. Don’t be shy, share your content with them.
Essentially what we are talking about is working your investment.
Musicians don’t invest in recording an album and then let it just sit there for people to find. It gets distributed to multiple places allowing you to stream it, download it, or buy the CD.
Without distribution, it would never be heard be anybody and the same is true for your content.
If you read this blog, you know I don’t advocate the myth that you need to be on every social media channel. You do need to take advantage of the channel(s) that you are on.
The nice thing about shared media is that it’s easy to distribute almost any type of content. Don’t ignore this fact. Embrace it.
In some cases, the social media channel you are using will act as the host such as a tweet. Also remember that just because you create content doesn’t make it owned media. This is common misconception even amongst experienced marketers. If you create something its home is shared media its shared media content because you don’t own the channel.
If you are creating live video, it can be distributed via Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, or YouTube (yes, I realize there is debate on whether YouTube is really a social media platform or not but that is a topic for a different article).
In some cases live video will be created and hosted on the social media channel you choose, such as Facebook but this isn’t always the case. Products such as StreamYard, help you distribute to multiple channels (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn) simultaneously.
Pre-recorded video and pictures can easily be shared on any of the social media platforms.
It’s better for longer form written content to on your website but it can be easily be shared on shared media with a link.
Other people can distribute your content as well and to encourage this, you want to make this as easy as possible for them. Each social media channel has a button that allows for content to easily be shared so why not make it this easy for people visiting your website? Having sharing buttons on your website is a great way to help people distribute your content easily.
While distributing content is a good marketing move, there are other ways that shared media can help you in the longer term.
Engage and Build Relationships
It can be easy to see shared media as nothing more than a distribution mechanism for your company. Sometimes I fall into that trap.
For companies, it’s important to engage. Why? Whether it is large or small, a company can feel like a faceless entity. Engaging can help humanize it.
As an individual, if you are only treating shared media as a content distribution channel it can create a feeling that you don’t really care about anybody or anything else.
Social media is called social media for a reason. It’s a way to be social with other people on whatever social media platform you are on. It’s not a vacuum where you only show up and talk about yourself.
Whether you are a company or an individual, you need to engage with people.
Respond to comments. Thank people for sharing and liking your posts. Share and promote the content of others. Respond to the posts of others. Ask questions to spur conversations as Christina Garnett does here:
Notice the engagement she had at the time that I took a screenshot. 36 likes but more importantly 61 comments. She asked a question to create a conversation. It’s much easier to connect with people if you talk to them.
Shared media isn’t always the best place for conversations, especially for more complex ideas, but this question works because it’s simple.
You can join groups that focus on certain topics or that have been created by companies on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and in Slack.
I’ve been part of some great Twitter chats in which have allowed me to connect and share ideas with new people.
These are all great forums to share knowledge and connect with people.
Engaging has the added benefit of creating affinity for you brand as well.
Research is too often overlooked. More on that in another post but shared media can be a good place to do research. I know of people who do quantitative research but I mostly focus on qualitative research.
Shared media isn’t likely to give a full picture but it’s a place where you can find some good information. You can use it to jumpstart your research or to compliment the research that you’ve already done.
I’ve done some broad research on industries that started with social media. You can discover topics that are being discussed as well as influencers.
I pay attention to what is being posted and shared as it can give insight into not only the values people or companies might have but the kinds of issues and topics that are important to them as well.
You can find out what your target audience is talking about, sharing, reading, watching, and following (for those of you who want a short-cut in finding this type of info, check out Spark Toro).
More Than Marketing Messages
Shared media doesn’t have to be filled with marketing and PR messages to help you reach your marketing goals.
I would argue that it ends up being how you choose to use it. If you see it strictly as nothing more than a way to get your message out then it fair to say that it’s just another marketing and PR platform.
As I’ve shown you today it can be more and still help you reach your marketing goals.
After all, marketing is more than just getting a message out. It’s about making connections.