Know your audience: what media types are best for your brand?

Andy Warhol predicted that “In the future, everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes.” But these days, with everybody vying and dying for attention, fame rarely comes unsolicited. You and your business need to work harder than ever in choosing the right media types to set yourselves apart.

The first step is to align your content strategy with your earned media strategy. In other words, post great and valuable content dedicated to topics on which you’d like to be viewed as an authority. Then reach out to journalists and influencers who might be interested in your work, and see if they’re willing to supplement their pieces with it (or amplify it in other ways).

But the big question is: where do you want your message to appear? Is your target audience more of an online/social media crowd, or do most of your people consume TV and radio? If you don’t know the answer to these questions, it’s probably worth running a media analysis to find out; it’ll be essential in selecting and committing to a media type.

Here then, in no particular order, are the four main media types on which industry experts are born.

Online

While the term “online media” can refer to anything on the internet – that big, sprawling thing that touches everyone and everything – for our purposes, it means blogs and news websites. One estimate from 2013 put the number of blogs on the internet at 152 million (and counting), and a 2016 Pew Research Center survey revealed digital news sources to be second only to television as the most frequently accessed type of media source, with 38 per cent of U.S. adults saying they often get news from digital sources. And the digital audience is only growing. In short, it’s never a bad idea to be featured online.

Social Media

It should come as no surprise that social media is big, powerful, influential, and getting more so all the time. Digital consumer insight firm GlobalWebIndex found that “Back in 2012, digital consumers had an average of just over 3 accounts; in 2016, this figure has risen to almost 7.” And We Are Social found that the number of people actively using social media rose by 176 million in 2015, eclipsing the 2.2 billion mark (or about one of every three people on the planet). But perhaps the most challenging element of a social strategy is knowing which platforms upon which to focus: Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and LinkedIn all can add value, but it depends most on where your audience lives.

Print

Despite what you may have heard, print still matters. The numbers don’t look good – especially as circulation numbers dwindle and newspapers and magazines seem to be shutting their doors at rates never before seen – but “print is still a top-of-funnel medium,” says Andy Blau, chief business officer at Time Inc. (although it’s worth noting that his company publishes around 100 magazines).

“It’s really for establishing brand worthiness in the marketplace, for establishing the value of the brand, for communicating very broadly, with broad reach, to the right target audience,” he says. “It’s really pure brand advertising…Print advertising is a very efficient way of establishing a brand identity and for communicating that to the target market.”

Either way, if your target audience is between 55 and 65-plus years old, print is definitely where it’s at.

Broadcast

The good news for television in the U.S. is that audience stats are generally rising (although it depends on which type of television you look at – cable, network, or local). Either way, people watch a lot of TV: at least one recent study found that, on average, Americans spend the equivalent of two months of every year watching television. Additionally, 265 million Americans aged six and older listen to the radio each week, including more than 66 million Millennials, a number that has been remarkably stable over the last few years.

Each media type has its advantages, and which one is right for you largely depends on your audience. So identify those groups you need to target to build success, and determine which medium they consume. Once that’s done, get to work on producing content that at once fits the medium and will be valuable to the audience. You can then deploy software tools to track your mentions across media types to gauge your strategy’s success.

Just remember, engagement begets engagement, which begets credibility and, ultimately, trust in your brand. Alignment between your content and earned media strategies can go a long way in this regard.