Owned Is Nailed. Paid Is Flying. Earned Is the Future. Whoever Fuses All 3…

The relationship between owned, paid, and earned is multi-faceted – with aspects touching strategy, content, measurement and brand value.

As alluded to in a recent tweet:

This article is purely from the perspective of technology; specifically, the emerging platforms that are used to deploy and manage campaigns across these three buckets.


Two years ago the owned social landscape was completely fragmented. Social media management systems (SMMS) were purely built for content publishing and/or listening with associated measurement capabilities. Not only that – some were directed at managing only Facebook or Twitter!

Today, the owned media technology playground is far more cohesive. Platforms that originated as Facebook interactive app solutions such as Involver and Wildfire have built out social media management modules. Likewise, those that started out as pure-play SMMS have created Facebook (and in some cases YouTube) app management features. Platform management features have also advanced significantly – examples include: Open Graph Object publishing and integration with third party API’s such as Engage 121 did with Social Flow to enable optimized engagement.

Social Customer Service is another product offering that SMMS and social listening platforms have jumped on. Sprinklr, Trac.x, and Radian6 all come to mind.

The owned space is nailed. There is little room for breakthrough technology innovation and the market is relatively consolidated.


Paid is on fire. There are a fortune of official Facebook API ad partners and every week I have a new vendor come through the door to present social paid capabilities. To add the social media empires – Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin and Tumblr are continuously advancing their ad solutions and API’s. Others like Pinterest and Google+ are yet to come to the table, but I can assure you they will.

This week Tumblr launched its paid platform and Social Flow jumped on board too . The owned technology vendors also want a piece of the pie – Buddy Media acquired Brighter Option, Wildfire partnered with (the awesome) Adaptly, and Engage 121 built their own paid power house.


Here lies the problem. The earned space is needlessly fragmented.

At a macro-level the earned social media marketing process involves: influencer identification, storage and relationship management, outreach, activation and tracking (ROI). The process is summarized in the diagram below:

The Earned Marketing Process – Image (Adapted and) Courtesy of SocialChorus

Here lies the challenge: each step in the chain requires a different technology solution. For example (the awesome) SocMetrics for influencer identification and measurement, Salesforce, Batchbook or Nimble for CRM, MailChimp for outreach and SocialChorus for activation and measurement.

This means multiple vendors, logins, dashboards, KPI’s and even monitors. Add owned and paid and you have the remains of a social media war zone.

It needs maturity and I am confident we will see a few mergers and acquisitions in the earned space over the coming year.


Above all, I predict we will see a fusion of paid, owned, and earned social technologies. This will mean the SMMS will move from a platform to an operating system.

The brand and agency value will be tremendous. Imagine implementing, managing and measuring paid, owned, and earned in one platform?

Owned Is NAILED. Paid Is FLYING. Earned Is the FUTURE. Whoever Fuses All 3 will be CROWNED.

If I were a VC and you were tackling this – I would hand you a blank check!

Michoel – @Twabbi

Follow Michoel @ MountainClimber.me



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  2. 05/4 2012

    Great article Michoel! And so true – I was in @ Big Fuel this week chatting with Ben about our Paid ads solutions!

  3. Zachar Jeans
    05/4 2012


  4. 05/11 2012

    […] is multiplied by global enterprises trying to move to a more unified model of paid, earned and owned. This move comes as a response to the social technology fragmentation around […]

  5. 06/1 2012

    […] is multiplied by global enterprises trying to move to a more unified model of paid, earned and owned. This move comes as a response to the social technology fragmentation around […]

  6. 06/20 2012

    […] to our way of thinking, Michoel’s theory makes perfect sense. After all, the owned social landscape is a lot more cohesive than it was just […]


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