Free Media: It's Cheaper But Not Free

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The term ‘free media’ is actually a misnomer because while it is much cheaper than mainstream media and traditional marketing, it does cost. Here’s a look at free media and why it isn’t actually free.
Free media is any medium you use to market your content where at least part of the exposure you get is free of cost. For example, social media marketing, viral videos, and so on. All you have to do in these instances is create an interesting product or service, and present it in a manner that piques the interest of the various social media communities. If you manage to get their attention, these communities will largely propagate your materials and market them for you, free of cost. And while the art of creating a video with the potential of going viral is more intricate, the idea is the same: you create the product that is designed so that people will be compelled to talk about it. In a way this is not much different from word-of-mouth marketing.
As you can imagine, there is a cost here and it involves first taking the time and understanding the communities that you want to utilize to market yourself, and then making content that the community will appreciate. And because not everyone wants to take the time do so, the entire industry of social media marketing has emerged. While this process takes both time and money, it is ultimately cheaper than a traditional marketing campaign because you only need to get the content to a small subset of the people. Once your content gets to these people (for example, the Digg community) other media outlets will take note and further market it for you (by writing about it, etc) for free.
For some people, the idea of free media is difficult to swallow; the concept of ‘free’ connotes marketing that is low-quality or beyond the control of the marketer. Therefore, it is sometimes helpful to note that you don’t have to rely completely on just traditional media or free media. In fact, if you look at some of the biggest and most popular brands right now, and the way they handle their marketing campaigns, you will note that they use a mix of both kinds of media, often one to support the other when the interest is waning. For example, while Apple’s products are interesting enough that they market themselves for the most part, when the free media interest starts to dwindle, they start spending money on traditional media to refocus the market.

Cameron Olthuis

Cameron Olthuis

Cameron Olthuis

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