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Digital and Marketing

March 20, 2009

It’s been said that the difference between normal marketing and social media marketing is that the first is paid media, whereas the second is earned media.

Here’s something that I’ve argued for a long time – a website is an example of “earned media“.

I should back up: paid media is interruptive, meaning it appears all around the content. Think 30 second TV spots. It’s often entertaining for that reason, it has to get attention. Websites can’t. they aren’t an interruption, people choose to visit a website. The earned part comes in when the site convinces them to come back.

Ponder that for a second. You’re not creating a website that gets people to it the goal is to get people back to it. (Even SEO types should concede that creating a website to

What can social media teach people about this whole getting people back to it?


Think about sites with community built in. You know them as Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, YouTube. Etc. I don’t care if you think these are fads. They might be. But the consumer behavior behind these fads is the desire to connect online. Consider these stats:

In 2004, US residents spent $469.5 million in online dating. $500 million in 2005. Facebook launched in 2005. Think people were ready?

So here’s the point, community is a simple way to get people back. The hard part, obviously, is figuring what kind of community and what people will get out of it, but taking the learning from social media and applying it digitally is the way to move forward.

Answer that question, and the marketing can change as well. Inste3ad of using paid marketing to say: “See for more details.”, it can be more specific. “Join the community of fans and [insert cool idea here]”.

The thing to remember is that each hit is earned through marketing. And for the most part, each bounce is too.

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