Earned Media Value: A Primer

By Brandon Farley | July 27, 2023

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Earned media value (or EMV, for short) is a metric that assigns a monetary worth to brand mentions or publicity gained through social media channels.

The impact of earned media can significantly enhance the value of more conventional advertising expenditures, effectively reaching untapped audiences without additional costs. Enthusiastic fans can turn into brand ambassadors, effortlessly spreading the brand's message.

One of the key advantages of earned media lies in its credibility. Audiences often trust recommendations from their peers, readers, and influencers more than claims from traditional advertising campaigns. Incorporating persuasive influencer content into ads can transform static campaigns into powerful tools for converting potential customers.

Measuring EMV, however, can be a challenging task due to the complexity of tracking consumer behaviors and brand mentions simultaneously.

To address this, created Social Index, a product that has assisted over 3,000 companies since 2017 in reliably measuring earned media value (EMV) and campaign return on investment (ROI).

Social Index 3.0 leverages machine learning-powered algorithms to analyze extensive proprietary and public data, empowering brands to understand their customers and their position in the marketplace.

Whereas most platforms provide robust analytics such as video views, time spent, followers, likes, comments, and shares, among other metrics, Social Index is filling the void and providing marketers with earned media or advertising value equivalents (AVEs) for platforms like TikTok. This can serve as a foundation for testing, learning, and optimizing future content efforts and also help standardize benchmarks to compare against other platforms.

What does EMV place a monetary value on, exactly?

  • Influencer Endorsements: A popular beauty influencer posts a positive review and demonstration of a new makeup brand's products on Instagram. The post receives thousands of likes, comments, and shares, reaching a wide audience and generating positive brand mentions.

  • User-Generated Content (UGC): A restaurant encourages its customers to share photos and experiences on social media using a branded hashtag. As a result, customers post pictures of their delicious meals, tagging the restaurant and sharing their positive dining experiences, effectively promoting the brand to their followers.

  • Viral Video: A humorous and creative video featuring a brand's product goes viral on TikTok. Users across the platform begin recreating and sharing their versions of the video, leading to a viral trend and significant earned media exposure for the brand.

  • Press Coverage Sharing: A tech startup is featured in a leading industry publication, and they share the article link on their social media channels. Their followers, including industry professionals and potential customers, engage with the post, amplifying the reach of the press coverage and showcasing the brand's credibility.

  • Customer Testimonials: A fitness center receives glowing reviews and testimonials from satisfied clients on Facebook and Twitter. The fitness center shares these testimonials on their social media pages, highlighting the positive feedback they receive from customers, which builds trust and attracts new clients.

These examples demonstrate how social media can act as a powerful platform for organic exposure and brand mentions, leading to earned media value that helps businesses increase their visibility, credibility, and customer engagement.

What can you do with this kind of advertising value equivalency?

Advertising Value Equivalents (AVEs) help you assess the ROI of their social media efforts:

  • Quantify Earned Media: AVEs assign monetary worth to organic exposure and engagement on social media, enabling businesses to gauge the impact of their efforts.

  • Cost-Effectiveness: AVEs allow comparison between earned and paid media, helping allocate budgets efficiently.

  • Justify Investment: AVEs justify social media expenditure by showcasing tangible value and ROI.

  • Optimize Content: Analyzing AVEs identifies high-performing content for better audience resonance.

  • Benchmark and Assess: Tracking AVEs over time benchmarks performance and evaluates influencer marketing effectiveness.

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