Leveraging Converged Media in Local Digital Marketing

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Converged media is a term many local marketers might have heard of but may not be familiar with in terms of digital media environments. Essentially, converged media is the area of overlap between any two of three media types: paid, owned, and earned. This overlap is rich with opportunity and should be a focal point in any local digital marketing program.

Before we can dive into the specifics of converged media, however, we need to take a quick look at what has prompted its growth and why it’s recently become more relevant.

Paid, earned, and owned media provide the foundation for converged media. The following graphic shows examples of each media type:

Consumer media consumption habits have evolved in recent years with the growth of social networks, mobile devices, and tablets to cause a shift in the ways that paid, owned, and earned media are created, implemented, and leveraged. This shift caused increasingly large and natural overlaps resulting in converged media. It’s in this new converged media space where local marketers can maximize the value of paid, earned, and owned media and spur new customer growth.

Maximizing the value of paid, owned, and earned media
Earned media by nature holds the most value for local marketers with the unbiased authenticity of user reviews and comments about a product or business. Word-of-mouth has long been the most effective marketing tool, but how do local marketers get the ball rolling? First, it’s important to remember that not all earned media is created equal; local marketers should work to gain the attention of key “influencers” as their vast networks are already in tune with and value their recommendations.

Second, and perhaps most important, is having quality paid and owned media spark interactions that prompt organic growth of earned media. One of the most effective ways to garner earned media is for local marketers to create unique offerings tailored to each individual community. While this may be more time consuming than static brand pages or run-of-the-mill offerings, an active and engaged customer base offers a just reward. Using paid media to draw awareness of unique and valuable owned media drives local engagement and that makes the registers ring. Facebook’s “promoted posts,” which allow marketers to pay to ensure their posts are seen by their page’s fans, are a prime example. When owned media is valuable enough, paid media can effectively shine a spotlight.

Finally, always be sure to encourage consumer reviews, whether through social sites like Google+ Local pages, Yelp listings, or another review-generation platform. Reviews not only provide useful feedback for the internal-assessment process; they also shape consumer opinions. It’s important to allow for negative reviews as well as positive ones and to keep review comments open so consumers can engage in a dialogue that provides loyal customers a chance to defend a product or location they love.

Leveraging Converged Media
Paid, owned, and earned media can be used across a wide array of marketing channels. Create and maintain a presence in as many existing and emerging channels as necessary to capture as much of a target audience as possible. Each outlet provides marketers unique opportunities to engage audience members on its “home turf,” and taking your proposition to them establishes inroads faster than asking them to come to you.

After establishing a presence across a wide range of channels, marketers need to focus on customizing their content to match the needs of their target audience. Local pages should have content that reflects opportunities specific to the geographic region. For example, paid media such as mobile, display, social, and pay-per-click ads should be geotargeted to increase their relevance. Owned content such as social pages, blogs, and locations pages should provide information on local events and happenings for an area. Earned content such as reviews should focus on the specific location where interactions occurred, rather than comments or reviews about the brand as a whole. But always remember the larger brand when creating these pages because a consistent message helps consumers instantly recognize the brand persona they’ve come to trust.

The Altimeter Group provides examples of how brands deploy converged media in “The Converged Media Imperative: How Brands Must Combine Paid, Owned and Earned Media.” But one stands out for its local marketing angle. The New York Giants became “the first professional sports team to integrate live tweets both in the stadium and on TV for viewers at home. Using social curation, tweets were enabled on-site via the stadium Jumbotron, while simultaneously televised. … The team also created Twitter-based commerce tie-ins for shop.giants.com.” The campaign returned impressive results as e-commerce sales increased and Twitter followers more than doubled.

Establishing momentum and engaging consumers through converged media strategies is just the first step. Remain engaged by monitoring conversations across all channels and responding quickly and accordingly to sustain the positive momentum.

Finally, measure the success of all campaigns. Unfortunately, as with any emerging medium, there is no tried and true measurement system in place. Marketers need to spend time defining key performance indicators at the start of their campaign to avoid confusion later. Establishing goals and success measurements in advance can be a helpful way to plan a campaign. Download SIM Partners’ converged media e-book to find a helpful checklist that marketers can use to plan converged media campaigns.

Moving Forward
Converged media is here to stay, and marketers can gain an early advantage on the competition by incorporating it into their local digital marketing strategies. Businesses must remain flexible to maximize success and minimize potential stumbling blocks when working with emerging media. Regardless, marketers must act now or risk wasting an opportunity.

Tara Thomas is the director of client strategy for SIM Partners, located in Evanston, Ill. SIM Partners’ technology empowers major brands to maximize digital marketing results at a local level.