Brand Spotlight

Close your eyes and think about everything you know about GoPro. You might imagine dolphins, or deep sea divers, or exotic fish flashing by in miraculously choreographed schools, or simply swimming in clear blue tropical waters and looking at coral reefs. Maybe you’re high up in the sky, falling precipitously from an airplane, speeding down a curvy mountain pass on a motorbike, or surfing through a perfect curl. Maybe you’re seeing it all at once in a montage because GoPro, as the company’s Founder and CEO Nicholas Woodman puts it, wants “to create experiences and realities that expand our world and inspire those around us.”

And yet, if your imagination stops and starts within the world of extreme sports, where GoPro first made its mark, you’re missing a huge part of what makes YouTube so powerful.

Redefining Adventure

GoPro is, quite simply, everywhere. If you’re unlucky enough to endure a stop-and-go morning commute, you’ve likely seen a cyclist (motorized or pedaling) fly by you in traffic, with that unmistakable camera mounted to the top of their helmet, as you sit and stare at the crawling queue of red brake lights. But, maybe there’s something about being stuck in traffic that’s as interesting as a skydive. Maybe you should have a GoPro camera too, ready to capture every moment. After all, a family drive is a kind of adventure too.

“Enabling you to share your life through incredible photos and videos is what we do,” says Woodman about his company. Yet, lives do not have to be extreme to be interesting, and GoPro is catching on to this as they begin to expand beyond the high-wire, high-risk sporting footage that put them on the map. GoPro is beginning to see the market value of a more everyday experience that most of us live each day.

If you could point to a video that exemplifies this transition for GoPro, look no further than this combination of what GoPro and YouTube do best together: capturing life’s milestones on video for posterity, albeit with that inevitable GoPro twist.

But as YouTube continues to grow, with hundreds of hours of content being created and shared every second, brands such as GoPro are watching, listening, and seeing how users of their products are even innovating how the company sees itself. Credit users like this couple for reimagining the traditional wedding video with their own GoPro HERO 3 and a bouquet.

Extreme Real Life

More and more, GoPro users are discovering that diving out of a plane might not be as interesting as finding out what exactly your dog does when you leave the house. Listen closely, and you’ll hear this dog owner’s friend ask, “Are you really leaving it [the camera] on him?”

Ask any parent and they’d likely nod in agreement that fatherhood is an extreme sport in a category all its own. For a toddler, a simple playground slide is every bit as daunting as a skydive. Most importantly, GoPro knows that these everyday moments are how most of us live and are increasingly including a family day at the park alongside expert stunts.

GoPro is also quickly expanding its line of camera mounts to help its users capture moments beyond the niche market of recreational thrill seekers, even offering options for musical instruments resulting in some surprising, low risk, high impact content.

The kitchen can be a dangerous place too. Who’d argue with this mother, telling her daughter as they scour the cupboard for supplies, “Baking’s a workout!”

And while no one would mistake a model train enthusiast for an extreme sports star, GoPro wisely sees the value in sharing user-created content that highlights the versatility of its cameras. More importantly, it is exactly this type of content that appeals to the vast majority of us who don’t base jump from skyscrapers. This content is more inclusive, helping the more timid among us to consider purchasing a GoPro to capture the less extreme moments of our everyday lives. Or, in this case, extreme hobbies.


GoPro has cornered the market on documenting the extreme adventures of regular people (and not so regular) hiking, biking, swimming, jumping, and living adventurous lives. As the brand inches closer to 1 billion total views on its official YouTube channel, while boasting over 3 million subscribers, the brand sees the benefit in expanding its reach to those of us who might be active in different ways than even the brand has imagined. Whether its users invent “bouquet cams” or want to see what their dog does while they’re away, GoPro has taken notice, announcing the creation of a new GoPro Licensing platform seeking to harness and capitalize on all of the ingenious ways its users continue to discover (and reveal back to the company itself) the infinite ways digital video has the power to capture life as it is being lived.


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Thought Leadership

There is a rough consensus among brands and media franchises about what earned media is and means. It is frequently grouped with PR and word-of-mouth marketing, and it generates a kind of traction that is great for building communities around campaigns. But, when it comes to finding and targeting specific examples of earned media, can you recognize any or all of it on YouTube? Depending on your products and audiences, the way earned media is described, tagged, organized and found on YouTube is different. And, in order to leverage it properly, you need to know where to look first.

Earned media manifests in three major ways on YouTube. Within those categories are all sorts of videos.

Wholly Original Earned Media

For every culture on YouTube there are different terms and categories for the earned media about the brands in that space. Beauty and Lifestyle have particularly strong and established cultures on the platform, so the earned media in that space has more unique language and visual styles than other verticals. Their language is so developed that sometimes brands won’t even know that people are talking about them without actually being on trend.


OOTW (outfits of the week)

Whats in my…

First Impressions

Take a look at our in depth guide, Beyond Reviews, for more categories of earned media affecting brands.

Re-mixed Earned Media

For media companies (film, tv, music, sports, etc.) this is a more likely form of earned media. These often appear as reviews, or in vids. For a more comprehensive look at fanvidding, what it means, and kinds of vids out there, check out ZEFR’s Taxonomy of Fanvids.





There is an equally diverse and deep well of earned media featuring intellectual property. Remix culture occasionally means that one video on YouTube is earned media for more than one rights holder. Sometimes there are remixes made with commercials but not nearly as frequently.

Re-uploaded Earned Media

Not all brands are aware of this, or count this as earned media. When brands come across a re-uploaded video they paid to make, sometimes they assume it falls into owned or paid media but it also counts as earned media. It is not the video itself that distinguishes its owned or earned media status but the channel that uploaded it. Official videos on official channels are Owned Media. Official videos running in advertising slots are paid media. Official videos on unofficial or fan channels are earned media. Re-uploads introduce content to the fans of the fans, rather than the fans of the brands, thus potentially reaching new audiences. While embedded here, there might not be anything out of the ordinary with these videos but it is the channel, not the video that makes this a kind of earned media.

Old/Historic Content

Promotional/Anticipatory Content

For media franchises, re-uploads might directly compete with their bottom line, but, lucky for them, copyright is on their side. Sometimes, the digital distribution rights for commercial use are in question, but, if the content is desirable enough, fans will bypass any thought of rights issues to upload it on their own.

Key Takeaway

For a brand to understand its viewership, it is necessary to know as much as possible about the fans driving the focus of their audience. The best way to accomplish this is to learn about the communities surrounding the brand, and the many different kinds of earned media they create.


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This post is the second in a series providing resources for understanding owned media, earned media, and paid media. For a comprehensive YouTube strategy, it is important to understand and leverage all three. An earned media strategy is a bit harder to crack when compared to owned or paid, given that you have to earn it, and you have little control over the final form it takes. But, that doesn’t mean you can’t master it.

To help get you started with your earned media strategy on YouTube, we put together this handy resource guide. Plus, be sure to subscribe to our blog for all the latest strategy tips on this essential part of video marketing.

1.  Nielsen: Global Consumers’ Trust in ‘Earned’ Advertising Grows in Importance

earned media youtube resources

In 2012, Nielsen’s Global Trust in Advertising Survey had this to report:

“Ninety-two percent of consumers around the world say they trust earned media, such as word-of-mouth and recommendations from friends and family, above all other forms of advertising—an increase of 18 percent since 2007…”

You can download the full report right here.  Although it doesn’t explicitly mention YouTube, it’s a great starting point for convincing anyone, including yourself perhaps, that earned media is an essential component of any marketing strategy.


2.  Ad Age: Five Reasons You Need to Focus on Earned Media

“Today, it’s earned media impressions that are building brands and paving the way for an open dialogue between companies and their customers. If you’ve been ignoring this trend, then you’re missing a critical piece of the revenue puzzle.”

Hint: stop ignoring this trend and read this article already.


3.  ZEFR’s Beyond Reviews: The 12 Types of Videos Already Influencing Your Consumers [eBook]

Beyond Reviews - Haul Preview - ZEFR
a page from Beyond Reviews about “haul” videos

A recent survey found that 53% of shoppers are influenced by YouTube videos.  The question though is this: what do those videos actually look like? Are they simply your standard “product reviews”?

Our eBook, Beyond Reviews, reveals that earned media on YouTube is about so much more than just product reviews. Fans are creating all kinds of videos that influence shoppers, such as “hauls”, “empties”, and “unboxings”,  and we created a guide to help you find and understand all of them.

Get the free eBook right here.


4.  Adweek: Fans Crush Brands When it Comes to YouTube [Infographic]

earned media youtube resources
Click here to see the full infographic

ZEFR Co-founder Zach James wrote a byline in Adweek, and had this to say about earned media:

“Consumers are no longer just a passive audience; they are now passionate fans who are actively participating in driving value for brands. And while there’s been lots of talk about brands acting as publishers, we’re increasingly finding that fans drive more value by creating videos about the brands and products that they love.”

Check out the full article for examples of brands with a ton of earned media on YouTube.


5.  140 Proof: Earned Media Isn’t Free

earned media youtube resources

If you’re interested in the debate over what the word “earned media” really means, or where the stuff originates, we’ve got three good reads for you. First, from 140 Proof:

“There is no free media. That may fly in the face of the “paid vs. earned” dichotomy that has become a big part of digital strategy in the marketing world.  But it’s a mistaken dichotomy.  You’re still paying for what you earn, just in different ways.”

Agree or disagree? Follow their argument here.


6.  Mashable: Is This Article Earned Media? Depends Where You Got it From

Here’s the second article to follow the debate, and it digs in to how the term has shifted over time. After tracing the first appearance of the term in Newsweek from 1988, the author uncovers how earned media has impacted marketing strategies:

“…All of this means that earned media is more important than it ever was. It’s not just a PR strategy anymore. Now it’s a marketing strategy that informs the way ads and other forms of a brand’s communication are structured.”


7.  Ad Age: If You’re Paying for It, It’s Not Earned Media

With the third piece of our little “earned media debate” series,  we’re reminded of what it truly takes for brands to generate earned media:

“Earning the trust and respect of our audience should remain paramount, regardless of how difficult that objective is. And this is something that can’t be bought. It can only be won through a customer’s experience with us.”


8.  ZEFR’s Anatomy of a Fan [eBook]

ZEFR Anatomy of a Fan eBook

When most people hear the phrase “fans on YouTube,” the first images to pop in their heads are likely fans of music, movies, TV shows, comic books… fans of any and all “media.” Then, ZEFR’s Anatomy of a Fan introduced people to the notion that fandoms aren’t limited to the media world. Brands also have their fans, and many of the same rules apply. And wherever you find fans, you will also find earned media:

“When fan communities produce their own content, brands call it ‘earned media.’ Fans have no hesitation about publishing that content online. Nowhere is it more important than on YouTube, where brands are being talked about, shared, and incorporated into the identities of communities on a massive scale and at a viral pace.”


9.  Ad Age: Why Every Agency Needs an Earned Media Director

As you can probably tell from this list, Ad Age has been on top of all things “earned media” for quite sometime now. Thus, it’s worth considering their advice. Here’s what they recommend for a job description when hiring an Earned Media Director:

“An EMD’s job is to guide the creation and execution of earned media campaigns – and then provide clear metrics showing the impact these earned media campaigns have on brand reach, sales, and marketing ROI.”


10. ZEFR Blog: Brands on YouTube, and What Drives Earned Media Creation?

earned media

photo by Chris Metcalf

Last but not least, a “two resources for the price of one” deal to close this out. First, when it comes to our blog posts, the Brands on YouTube series is filled with examples of how earned media played a role in various brands’ YouTube strategy. Starbucks in particular has a story that might surprise you.

Second, if you want to dig deep and discover why earned media is created in the first place, check out what this post has to offer:

“Finding the answer to this question for a particular brand requires an understanding of the many keywords and terms fans actually use to describe their videos, along with the various contexts and motivations that lie behind these creations. Once you understand these sources of influence and motivation, the vast YouTube ecosystem becomes more manageable.”


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Brand Spotlight

For many brands taking an initial dive into the world of YouTube marketing, their attention is focused squarely on building out their official YouTube channel and making it as awesome as possible. This official video content is what we call a brand’s “owned media” presence.

While owned media by itself won’t give you the full picture of a brand’s presence on YouTube, the amount of control that comes from managing an official channel makes it an obvious starting point for brands new to the platform. In that spirit, today’s post is about taking those first steps onto YouTube and what we can learn from one of the current masters of owned media, DC Shoes. Though, we will also begin to ask why having a successful channel is only the beginning for understanding the platform, and why focusing solely on owned media can result in missed opportunities.

Consistent posting, and the evolution of video marketing

DC Shoes joined YouTube on April 3, 2007. To give a sense of how far video marketing has evolved since then, check out what DC Shoes posted on that very first day:

This 0:24 second teaser isn’t exactly the most engaging piece of video out there, as evidenced by its less than 6K view count to date. However, as one comment from this video points out…

brands on youtube dc shoes 4

How far indeed. In October of 2013, Mashable posted a list of the 10 biggest brands on YouTube, based solely on the subscriber counts of brands’ official YouTube channels. The name that stood out the most from that list was DC Shoes, as the rest is rounded out by less surprising names like RedBull, Apple, and Nike, four gaming brands that are really more about media than anything else, everyone’s favorite video camera, GoPro, and Pepsi, whoever they are…

DC Shoes, on the other hand, is a relatively niche consumer product brand that is clearly doing something right to amass nearly 800,000 subscribers and over 321 Million views on their channel as of this writing. So, how’d they do it?

For starters, uploading new videos on a consistent basis is frequently cited as one of the most important factors for channel success on YouTube. As explained in YouTube’s very own creator playbook, regular posting, setting up a schedule, and being timely all contribute to keeping an audience fully engaged. Here is a graph showing DC Shoes’ video uploads by year:

brands on youtube dc shoes 5

After a couple slow years, in 2009 DC Shoes decided to go all in, peaking in 2011 with 121 videos uploaded to their channel. Interestingly, they dialed it back a bit in 2013, which could indicate a couple different things. First, it’s possible they took some more advice from YouTube’s creator playbook, which says, “Your channel should be active; promote new videos and other programming activity without overwhelming your subscribers with too much information.” Another possibility is that DC has begun to understand that owned media isn’t the entire story when it comes to YouTube, requiring a shift in focus and resources, which we’ll consider later on.

In any case, frequent posting has the added benefit of increasing your chances of scoring a major hit with the YouTube audience, which has less to do with simply “going viral” with some one hit wonder and more to do with creating consistent, quality content that is perfectly suited for the platform. And so, as early as July of 2008, DC Shoes found a potential recipe for success with this 3 Million plus view video, which gave us just a glimpse of what was to come:

What in the world is “Gymkhana”?

Sorting a channel’s videos by “most popular” is a simple way to get a feel for a channel and what has worked well over the years. When looking for DC Shoes’ most popular piece of owned media, you’ll find one of the most epic uses ever of the streets of San Francisco, by way of a type of motorsport called “gymkhana“:

With over 60 Million views since it was posted back in 2012, this video is part of a whole series featuring Ken Block, a professional rally car driver, burning rubber like a bat out of hell. If the blazing speeds made it difficult for you to see the “shoes” that are being marketed here, I grabbed a couple screen shots for you:

brands on youtube dc shoes 2

brands on youtube dc shoes 1

If you’ll recall, Ken Block is the same Ken Block from the July 2008 video above, which reveals how a persistent strategy of investing in this style of videos paid off for DC Shoes four years later with the San Francisco based masterpiece.


By the way, that insane driver Ken Block also happens to be one of the co-founders and Chief Brand Officer of DC Shoes, raising the bar considerably for any co-founders out there looking to appear in their own videos. Moreover, Block’s gymkhana videos exemplify the essence of what makes DC Shoes’ channel so compelling – namely, watching incredible athletes pushing the limits at the highest level of their sport, all while staying true to the brand’s street sensibilities. This becomes more obvious when looking at the channel’s more recent uploads.

Letting influencers, and fans, shine

If highly produced motosport videos seem to stray away somewhat from the core of DC Shoes’ skateboarding audience, a glance at the past year of content should serve to remind people why their shoes became a huge hit in the first place. These videos are clearly meant to showcase the cast of skateboarders, snowboarders, and other athletes who can show their fans how it’s done out in the real world.

Letting these major influencers from the “off-YouTube” action sport universe become the stars of the show is clearly a main focus of the channel. The description of the channel reads, “As one of the cornerstones of its marketing strategy, DC has built a world-class team of professional skateboarding, snowboarding, and motocross athletes that exemplify and enhance DC’s brand, develop its signature products, and support its promotional efforts.”

Take a look at this video featuring the highly talented Nyjah Huston:

Posted in December of 2013, this video is one of the most popular for DC Shoes as of late, and it’s “raw & uncut” feel is precisely the kind of content that any young kid with a camera could strive to recreate on his own, making it perfect for YouTube.

But why?

The answer stems from this idea of DC Shoes fans creating their own videos. Imagine thousands of kids, all wearing DC Shoes, filming their own GoPro enabled videos and uploading them for the world to see. Which finally brings us to the limits of “owned media” and into the vast realm of “earned media” on YouTube. Consider the following “unboxing” video from a fan out of London:

This video just might be the most important one in this post, because it serves to remind DC Shoes that their owned media, while certainly impressive in its own right, is simply on a different playing field when it comes to the kind of authentic, fan generated content influencing people’s purchasing decisions, all done on a massive scale that one official channel could never contain. Furthermore, in order to discover and understand this playing field, brands like DC Shoes need to start paying attention to what is happening outside the walls of their official channels and engage with their fans in new and creative ways. The opportunity is there, it’s just waiting to be discovered.


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Brand Spotlight

Successful social listening on YouTube requires 1) an understanding of the language you want to actually listen for and 2) the right tools that allow you to hear, and process, the entire conversation. Otherwise, you’re missing out on the full picture.

In the case of Starbucks, we uncovered close to 4,000 videos of people all answering the exact same question, “What’s your favorite Starbucks drink?”  These videos account for nearly 11 million total views.

The most surprising part of all those videos? Virtually none of them use the term “Starbucks” in the title, and just 10% use it anywhere in the description. So, you might be asking yourself, how’d we find all 4,000 of them? Good question. The answer starts with having a deep understanding of fan communities on YouTube.

What in the world is a “TAG” video?

“TAG” videos are a special breed on YouTube.  They start with one YouTuber creating a specific list of questions to answer.  That list is then given a name based on the common theme of the questions. For example, there’s the “Princess TAG”, which asks about favorite high-end beauty products, or the “Sweater Weather Tag”, which celebrates various must-have items for the fall season.

The term “TAG” itself comes from the practice of someone answering the questions in their own video and then “tagging” their fellow vloggers, telling them to film their own versions. TAG, you’re it. Eventually, thousands of videos emerge, all covering the same topic, all discoverable under the same TAG name.

For the Starbucks data above, the relevant TAG we found is called the “Common White Girl TAG.” Here is the most viewed version:

In case you missed it, the very first question she answered was “What’s your favorite Starbucks drink?” 

Her answer? Well, technically she cheated and gave three drinks – a Caramel Frappuccino with extra caramel and no whip cream, a Passion Fruit Lemonade with sweetener, and, when it’s cold, the White Chocolate Mocha. But, with over 760,000 views on her video, we’ll let it slide this time.

To recap, there are nearly 4,000 more “Common White Girl Tag” videos out there, with almost 11 million views in total, and they all answer the same exact questions. How much would it cost Starbucks to run a comparable survey of 4,000 people? [inlinetweet prefix=”” tweeter=”ZEFRinc” suffix=””]On YouTube, market research is available around every corner. It’s simply a matter of knowing where, and how, to look.[/inlinetweet]

By the way, some comments from the video above point out the potential political correctness problem going on here:

brands on youtube starbucks comments

But, social engagement like this simply reminds us that YouTube is a powerful social networking platform where nothing happens in a vacuum. The diversity of users, content, and opinions shows just how wide of a net YouTube is able to cast. Moreover, whatever you find has the ability to talk back. Consider this “Common White Girl TAGs”:

So, the conversation continues in the marketplace of ideas known as YouTube. And, the result for Starbucks is millions of earned media views – views that they may never have found before first discovering the meaning behind the phrase “Common White Girl TAG.”

Finally, any guesses on the winner of the overall favorite Starbucks drink? If there’s enough interest, I volunteer to watch all 4,000 videos and add up the results for us. Let me know in the comments below. 😉


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Brand Spotlight

TOMS’ YouTube channel showcases their new collections, upcoming announcements, and their inspiring philanthropic work. And, as TOMS has shown, if inspiration is your goal, then generating earned media on YouTube is an excellent way to measure success.

Paid Media Example: “TOMS Giving in the U.S.: Helping American Children In Need”

This video is not only a sample of the visual style and tone of most of TOMS’ videos – it is also their highest viewed video by far.  It was aired on YouTube as a pre-roll advertisement, which likely helped to contribute to the 3 million+  view count, and also explains some of the amazing comments from fans:

And of course, like any good video, there are comments with differing points of view and dislikes. Having room in your brand for these critiques contributes towards authenticity and allows true fans to come to your defense.


Earned Media Example: “One Day Without Shoes”

Mitchell Davis, a fan of TOMS’ business model, evangelizes the brand and its event, One Day Without Shoes. In a previous video, he talks about supporting TOMS as his new years resolution. TOMS shoes contacted him to say thanks for the support and encourage him to keep spreading the news about the shoes.

He made the video above to talk about going without shoes for a day in support of TOMS one-for-one policy.  For every shoe sale, TOMS gives a new pair of shoes to a child in need. He even refers to TOMS as an organization, rather than a business or a company, which is interesting because he views the company as dedicated to philanthropy first, rather than sales first.

So, props to TOMS for giving props to him. Way to engage and inspire!


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photo above by Chris Metcalf

What brands might call “earned media” is simply native behavior for fans on YouTube. So, what actually drives this behavior?

Finding the answer to this question for a particular brand requires an understanding of the many keywords and terms fans actually use to describe their videos, along with the various contexts and motivations that lie behind these creations. Once you understand these sources of influence and motivation, the vast YouTube ecosystem becomes more manageable. So, below is just a small sample of the kind of information we continue to uncover every day.

Are they “vidding” or “vlogging”?

Beginning from a top level perspective on video creation, two main styles predominate. “Vidding” is typically used to describe earned media for more traditional media franchises, like films and TV shows, while “vlogging” is more often seen alongside earned media for consumer facing brands, given it’s wider scope and general use.

Overall, most of what fans make on YouTube could be considered “earned media” for someone or something since YouTubers are accustomed to being asked about everything under the sun, ranging from what equipment they use to what prop is hidden in the background of a random video. Often times, YouTubers gladly share these answers—especially pertaining to equipment—in a blog or in the ‘About’ sections of their channels on YouTube. The result? Free earned media views!

And, when fans create a lot of videos, they will inevitably mention specific brands, and, if they are very thorough and great at SEO, they’ll include a list of all the products they featured in the description box. Check out this carefully curated list below from eleventhgorgeous:

Beyond these keyword distinctions, it’s first important to examine some of the driving forces behind online fandoms when it comes to creating earned media. So, below we look at just three different examples.

Earned media inspirations: Physical memorabilia

Fans will often hand-make memorabilia for events, or just because they feel particularly inspired to bring their passion into the physical world.  Sometimes fans sell their wares (which not all big brands are happy about due to licensing issues). This creation of props, costumes, geeky t-shirts, and other gear showing off their affinities is a staple in the wheelhouse of many fans, as they tend to fill in gaps in the official merchandise offering, and even make larger statements about the community as a whole.

One example of fan-made ephemera is the ‘Jayne’ hat from the show Firefly. Fans hand knit and sold these hats for years before the product was officially licensed. The fan-made element contributes to the value of the hat because, in the story, the hat was handmade for Jayne.

As evidence of the earned media potential behind this hat obsession, a quick search for “Jayne’s hat” on YouTube yields thousands of results of fans talking about the show.

If you want, you can even learn how to knit your very own Jayne hat:

And, perhaps heading the calls from fans, here is the officially licensed version available to buy via Think Geek:

Jayne Hat


Earned media resources: Official magazines and other knowledge bases

Fans tend to be more obsessive and detail-oriented than even the most diligent official resource. As a result, they usually make their own publications through collective intelligence. Fans with different interests in different elements of a fandom, when working together, make comprehensive resources for other members of their community. Fans are experts with the drive, passion, and, most importantly, the time to create websites, forums, wikis, zines, and more.

And, put simply, the result of these well-maintained knowledge bases is a level of earned media creation that rests on very solid ground when it comes to developing a shared sense of understanding. Speaking of sharing…

Earned media environments: Community hubs

Fans are accustomed to organizing themselves in pro-social and/or purely social groups. They are particularly adept at finding each other online and interacting with each other in person. Fans are building philanthropic non-profit groups inspired by their fandoms.

Online groups sprout organically, no matter how hard brands try to rally their fans around branded hubs. Between the terms of service and lack of control on official sites, fan hubs continue to emerge. Fans build conventions, meet-ups, and organizations. These can range from sports fans gathering at a bar to Nerdfighters getting together to do philanthropic events or voter drives.

Part of organizing their community is building mechanisms for sharing resources. Sharing is a big part of fan communities.

One well-documented example comes from Buffy The Vampire Slayer. In the early days of online fan forums, there was a hub called The Bronze. On this forum, fans helped others travel to conventions, wire money, organize transportation, and invited other fans to stay at their homes.

And, when fans get together, they tend to film themselves engaged in their shared passions, creating countless hours of earned media footage in the process.


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