Five Questions to Help You Navigate the Social Trifecta

If you’re in digital marketing, you know about it. If you’re a marketing diva, you probably named it. The Social Trifecta.

Cue the lights! And the trumpet players.

The social trifecta is the convergence of three entities within Social Media: Owned, Paid, and Earned. To be clear, this triad is not new; Kirk Cheyfitz prophesied the impact of all three back in 2010…and well, per usual many things have changed since then. According to Gartner, “Eighty percent of social marketers surveyed say they have or will have social advertising programs, and nearly two-thirds will have employee and/or customer advocacy programs in place within 12 months [October 2017],” pointing to a prompt adoption rate and crossover from Owned to Paid and Earned.

Even so, social media advertising itself has grown by 185% over the last year, a never-ending proliferation in media and a clear indication all entities must be intertwined to successfully master your brand’s social media strategy. We now find ourselves with an infinite combination to circulate across each channel. Yes, omnichannel has further widened its lanes and added a roundabout or five.

The DL:

  • Owned: What you (as a brand) say on your channels, including all posts on your page

  • Paid: What you pay to amplify and target

  • Earned: What your audience says about you

Interestingly enough, the opportunity for creative juices to flow is where the three intersect, a ball pit for marketers to recirculate, promote, test, or simply create content in more ways than one within their social media strategy.

One point to note is how much weight Earned Media holds in the Social Trifecta. Tracx discovered 70% of social conversations revolving around a brand reside in Earned Media, and depending on sentiment, are repurposed across Paid and Owned. Not the mention, Earned Media is the most trusted form of media for audiences, somewhat of a no-brainer as we know customer reviews impact a buyer decision by 80%. It also explains why influencer marketing has taken up a storm in terms of efficacy. Fundamentally, the sheer quantity of chatter in Earned Media, coupled with the quality of attention capture, is why Earned social delivers four times the brand lift of owned media.

Now Owned isn’t dead, but consider it a senior citizen. Updated newsfeed algorithms now dictate when your posts are viewed—on Facebook, only 2-6% of page followers will see Owned content. Even so, 90% of social buzz on a specific brand doesn’t even follow that brands’ owned pages. A huge disparity like this one compromises overall visibility, which explains the aforementioned 80% of social marketers moving to Paid or Earned in the last year.

So with all of this being said, how do you successfully leverage the Social Trifecta? With the numerous route available, how do you manage to deliver the best content, effectively connect with target audiences, and of course, minimize costs? Below are some questions to help you navigate throughout the process. Keep in mind, where you spend your time within the Social Trifecta is contingent on your vertical and who your customers are.

Key questions to shape your Social Trifecta strategy:

  1. Where is the watering hole? What is the go-to channel your target audiences are talking on?

  2. What is generating the most buzz in Earned Media that is worth re-purposing into a campaign as Owned Media?

  3. Which posts are absolutely slaying in Owned Media? Are they worth paying for exposure and will they strengthen your brand image and/or inspire a dialogue?

  4. How are your competitors doing, and how are you measuring up to them? Is it okay to be creepy? Yes, yes it is.

  5. What is it about successful posts that make them so? How can you use these takeaways to ensure you continue creating content that is compelling?


Mallory Chen

Marketing Strategist at crealytics. Based in Berlin!