What’s the worth of a social share? Marketers have always been trying to put dollar values and ROI on social and it is never an easy answer. However, with a new study by GE and social media site Buzzfeed, we may be on the verge of getting some real numbers!
They tested a campaign in which GE distributed “The GE Show” as a video through Buzzfeed both in paid display placements and sharing, and then assessed the attitude changes among the people exposed through each method. Thousands of respondents were involved in the study.
Earned media vs paid media
People who were exposed through sharing had a significantly bigger lift in positive attitudes towards GE – associating the brand with concepts such as ‘creativity’ and ‘innovation’ – than those who were exposed via paid placements. This might have been due to people paying more attention to content that’s shared with them than to paid ads.
People who were exposed to the content via sharing were 83% more likely to rate GE as ‘creative’ than those who were exposed through paid advertising.
How does each method relate to shaping positive attitudes?
- Control group (saw no branded content) – 42% had positive attitudes towards GE
- Group exposed through paid advertising – 55% had positive attitudes towards GE
- Group exposed through sharing – 77% had positive attitudes towards GE
Obviously shared media has the advantage of being “free inventory,” said Paul Marcum, director of global digital marketing and programming at GE. But he was also interested in knowing whether it actually has more impact on consumers than paid media.
“We all would intrinsically think that if you see something your friend has shared or a community you’re part of has shared, you’re more likely to value it differently” than paid placement, he said. “But no one we could find had actually tried to quantify the difference.”
Although the GE study represents a wonderful breakthrough in social metrics, it would be great to have more supporting studies for the value of earned media vs paid media. I believe that earned media is an incredibly powerful unit of branding, even though it may be chaotic. But this chaos is what gives the element of interest and trust – it’s real sharing by real people, not churned by the marketing factory.
Original article at AdAge.