Earned Media Value, or EMV.
Is there any real value in it, or is it just a soft metric?
What even is it?!
Today we’re clearing up the misconceptions about earned media value.
I’ll cover the pros and cons of using EMV as a marketing metric, explain how to calculate it, and reveal the role it plays in demonstrating the ROI of employee advocacy programs and influencer marketing campaigns.
What is Earned Media and Why Does It Matter?
First of all, we need to understand two other media types: paid media and owned media.
Paid media refers to advertising, including things like advertorials in newspapers, magazines, or in digital publications.
Owned media is your company content, such as your website copy, graphics, and social media content.
Now it’s clear to see where earned media fits in: it’s the organic content your brand/product receives, whether from social media influencers, the press, or user-generated content (UGC) like product reviews.
In the current digital climate, people are looking for authenticity more than ever.
And on social media, people trust influencers and peers more than brand content. Earned media is the best way to build trust in your company and your product/service.
Think about this:
Would you buy some expensive tech equipment without reading any reviews?
Those reviews written by your customers are an incredibly valuable form of earned media: they directly influence purchasing decisions.
What is Earned Media Value? (EMV)
Earned Media Value (EMV) is a way to measure the impact of earned media, by assigning a monetary value to the reach and engagement received.
This provides a way to demonstrate impact to leadership, and compare the results with your paid social media marketing campaigns.
In a nutshell, the EMV is what this engagement would have cost, had you driven the same results via paid advertising methods.
For example, let’s say your average cost-per-click for a sponsored LinkedIn post is $7.
If an employee shares a link to your latest blog post on LinkedIn (for no fee) and generates 2 clicks, the EMV of that activity is $14.
How to Calculate Earned Media Value
Many marketers see earned media value as a ‘soft’ metric, because it’s not an exact science.
There is no standardized and universally-agreed way to calculate EMV.
However, there’s a perfectly good reason for this:
EMV will vary depending on the type of activity or campaign you’re trying to attribute a numerical value to.
Each will have a specific desired outcome (e.g. clicks, impressions, re-shares), and a variable ‘hard metric’ you’ll use to calculate the EMV.
Let’s look at the example I used above.
If the cost-per-click for a sponsored LinkedIn post is $7, and an employee generates 2 clicks by sharing a piece of your content, then the EMV of this activity is $14.
Similarly, if the cost-per-impression on a display ad is $10 for 1,000 impressions, and a third-party shares this content (for no fee) and gets 4,000 impressions, the EMV of this exposure would be $40.
A simple formula for working out earned media value looks like this:
Avg. LinkedIn CPC (hard metric) x Clicks Generated by Earned Media (soft metric) = EMV.
Avg. Display Ad CPM (hard metric) x Impressions Generated by Earned Media (soft metric) = EMV.
“If the cost-per-click for a sponsored LinkedIn post is $7, and an employee generates 2 clicks by sharing a piece of your content, then the EMV of this activity is $14.”
Now, if you’re running an advocacy program with many employees sharing content, you’re probably thinking:
It would be a mammoth task to calculate EMV for each individual piece of content shared.
This is where technology becomes incredibly useful.
DSMN8’s employee advocacy platform comes with a built-in analytics suite that shows you (in real-time) everything from total shares to employee audience size, and, of course, EMV!
The Pros of Measuring EMV
Let’s break down the pros of tracking earned media value as a marketing metric.
Earned media value is an excellent way to demonstrate to leadership the amount of money you have saved the business, by directly comparing with paid advertising spend. It’s a great way to get buy-in for an employee advocacy program from your CEO or CFO.
Traditional influencer marketing has focused on the larger creators with millions of followers and views. With the rise of micro and nano-influencers, engagement is a much more valuable metric to track, as these creators tend to have a much lower reach but higher engagement.
Trust in the biggest influencers has declined, with more people trusting the opinions of smaller creators creating authentic content. According to Forbes, 82% of those interviewed are ‘highly likely’ to follow a recommendation from a micro-influencer.
Rather than segmenting marketing efforts and tracking them separately, earned media value enables you to directly compare the performance of various marketing campaigns. This means you can directly see the impact of an influencer campaign, or social media advertising campaign, compared with your employee advocacy program.
The Cons of Measuring EMV
Every marketing metric has it’s drawbacks, and earned media value is no exception.
There are three main cons to this approach:
1. It doesn’t provide a complete picture. Measuring EMV alone won’t show a comprehensive view of the marketing efforts involved in generating earned media.
2. It’s subjective. As there is no standardized way to measure earned media value, it varies across industries and businesses. Assigning a dollar value to earned media will depend on the typical CPC your company sees in paid advertising.
3. Difficult to track without technology. If your company is receiving lots of earned media, it can be a challenge to track and calculate the value of each post without using technology like DSMN8.
Earned Media Value in Employee Advocacy Programs
If you’re looking to increase your earned media, starting an employee advocacy program is one of the most effective (and cost-efficient) ways to do it.
Encouraging those within your organization to build professional personal brands on social media not only benefits their careers, but will generate significant reach and engagement on your content.
You never know who will see their content! A recent example of this from our own employee advocacy program is when my colleague Pablo did a ‘takeover’ of the DSMN8 social channels. Showing the human side of our company led to some earned media for us – his content was featured in an article by Social Media Examiner!
You can start an employee advocacy program manually, i.e. without using a platform. But once you start seeing results, you’re likely to want to use technology to scale the program throughout your organization, making it as easy as possible for employees to participate.
For this, you’ll need senior leadership buy-in, and that’s where earned media value becomes an incredibly valuable metric for showcasing the impact.
Earned media value isn’t the only way to measure the impact of employee advocacy. I’ve written a guide on all the metrics you’ll want to track! But the tldr is: you’ll need to track the how your program is helping you reach business goals, e.g. lead generation and content performance, as well as internal metrics like advocate engagement.
Final Thoughts & Additional Resources
To find out more about demonstrating the ROI of an employee advocacy program, be sure to watch this episode of the podcast with Bradley Keenan and Lewis Gray.
They reveal the statistics that help you demonstrate that starting an employee advocacy program will save your company money.
SEO and Content Specialist at DSMN8. Emily has 10 years experience blogging, and is a pro at Pinterest Marketing, reaching 1 million monthly views. She’s all about empowering employees to grow their personal brands and become influencers.