Setting Your Addiction Treatment Center Marketing Up for Earned Media Success

In late January 2020, TikTok user @kaelynnwhitee made a video of her experience using different skincare products. Her post spurred the sale of 52,000 units of The Ordinary’s AHA Peeling Solution.1 And this was just one of several viral bursts the brand received on TikTok throughout 2020.

What an excellent example of earned media. This is the kind of success that you need to incorporate into your addiction treatment center marketing strategy.

In the world of marketing, there are three types of digital media: paid, owned, and earned. Paid and owned media are exactly what they sound like. Paid media includes your paid ads on Google. These are campaigns targeting specific keywords and created with specific budgets in mind to attract the most clicks within a defined cost. Owned media is content you create to host on platforms you own like your website, social media accounts, podcasts, and blog.

But earned media is a little different, and is one area of your digital marketing that relies on outside entities amplifying your content. This is a totally different kind of publicity. Of the three types of digital media, earned media is by far the hardest to activate!2 That’s because earned media isn’t just about creating the content you publish. You’re really describing the unplanned exposure your content has or could potentially receive.

Despite this challenge, you should do everything you can to attract earned media. That’s because earned media is by far the most effective type of digital marketing. This is especially for an addiction treatment center looking to increase exposure and reach more patients who need services.

What is Earned Media?

Earned media is organic media exposure that a company or individual garners without, or beyond, their direct effort. Usually, the subject of the earned media is involved with a positive or negative action that is newsworthy or noticeable. Either way, the outcome is an influx of attention.

Earned media isn’t always a proactive step like a guest post or interview. The newsworthy event your center is involved in can be anything from a fundraising or awareness event to a patient’s social media post discussing how your program has impacted their life. Earned media can even start out as paid media that goes viral.

That’s why online reviews are a great example of earned media. Because the writing and posting of reviews can’t (ethically) be controlled by the organization, they’re by definition earned media. And since they’re organically created by real people who have engaged with your treatment center, online reviews are trusted by your potential clients much more than paid or owned media. As seen in the example above from The Ordinary, online reviews can make a big difference! 

Why is Earned Media Important?

As frustrating as staying on top of market trends and new platforms entering the paid advertising game may be, earned media is an excellent gauge of a few important factors.

When exposure is earned through appearances in viral media, your audience will talk. Eighty-three percent of people trust digital word of mouth (including reviews) more than they trust paid advertising.3 And considering more than 46% of internet users have ad blockers, earned media may be the most effective form of digital marketing today.4

But earned media can be a little risky, too. The content’s positive or negative impact isn’t entirely in your control. So when you create content, always keep the possibility of unexpected exposure in mind.

You can’t predict what earned media you’ll get and in which segment of your market the content will resonate. That said, earned media is still some of the most high-value exposure available because there will always be a portion of your market paying attention to earned media.

How Can Earned Media Benefit Addiction Treatment Center Marketing?

In order to reach the people who need your addiction treatment center’s life-changing services, you need your message to find the people who need you. And earned media can get you there. There’s nothing more powerful than when content clearly demonstrating what makes you great goes viral.

You can’t force a piece of content to go viral, but you should create each piece of content with the understanding that if it should go viral it should be accurate and present your center in the best way possible. 

Your marketing content has to convey a great deal of important information in a short amount of time. So be sure that you use clear, accessible language that’s easy to engage. Only use high-quality photos, professionally edited videos, and well-crafted content, so when you find yourself in a position where earned media is a possibility, your digital marketing assets speak for themselves.

Ready to get your treatment center’s content strategy earned-media-ready? Dreamscape Marketing can help. Contact us at 888.307.7304 to schedule a strategy session.


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