Is Facebook Earned, Owned and Paid Media?

With Facebook now a publicly traded company, brands in some kind of perpetual disarray and consumers still not trusting marketers, the question occurred to me: is Facebook trying to be all things to all people: Earned, Owned and Paid media?

A dance between brand, user and media

When you want to be all things to all people, you typically end up with nothing.  In this vein, I am going to wager that the overlapping nature of earned, owned and paid media could end up making Facebook a perilous existence.  There is no doubt that Facebook is at the heart of shared or earned media: we, the users, are indeed media.  Facebook is obviously now going gung-ho on paid media, to monetize its billion users and to recapture the wallets of Wall Street.

As in the diagram below, the consumers “own” the earned media.  The Brands are the ones paying the social media companies, so they might believe their Facebook page is their own page.   In the middle, you have Facebook and company who are trying to manage their own brand, pulled one way by the brands and pushing the other way to protect its user base.

 Earned Owned Paid Media, The Myndset Digital Marketing & Brand Strategy

Can Facebook be owned media?

The real question is whether a brand can consider its own page as owned media.  In one of Mitch Joel’s latest podcasts with Rebecca Lieb of Altimeter, Rebecca stated that a brand’s Facebook page is “owned” media.  I disagree.  At this point, a brand does not need to pay for its page.  Aside from the bleedingly obvious way for Facebook to get some extra revenues, the reason they have not done so yet, I believe, is to retain authority over the pages.  Until brands have to pay for their real estate, I think it is not appropriate to call one’s Facebook page “owned” media.  Facebook continues to have the right to make unannounced changes and the users (“friends”) still have the right (according to the settings) to participate freely on the page. One thing is for sure, in my mind, is that as Facebook inevitably wilts to the pressure to monetize, consumers will tend to unlike very quickly.  It will be a tricky line to tow.

What do you think?

  • mokhtaron


    Very interesting questions you're asking here!

    I think it's sad to see that Facebook's modjo "it's free and it always will be" is starting to lose its true meaning due to the calls of Wall Street wallets…

    If Facebook stays with that modjo, brands should never have to pay to get a brand page. They may be paying for extra services sooner of later but they should always get the right to create a brand name for free.

    Thus I agree with you that Facebook is not owned media for brands.

    Instead of trying to make money as a media on Facebook, brands should invest on their audience and their fans. Each fan can be a very large media and I think that's the power of Facebook: it gives each one of us the power to speak to an audience we couldn't have in "the real life". Brands and Facebook itself should take care of the fans because it's the heart of their business model.

    Thanks to Facebook and social media in general, people don't want to be told what to do or what to say, they have a freedom they can't always have in the "real life". And if brands consider their brand pages as owned media, this freedom will for sure disappear quickly.

    What I fear is that brands (and therefore Facebook who will try to satisfy them and their wallets) begin to use Facebook as an "ad media" and not anymore as a "social media". This change of direction will irremediably play against users (sadly, as usual when you give brands the power).

    I don't know if my opinion is helping getting things to move forward, but I wanted to react to your article as this question of Facebook as a media is very important for the whole social media world. :)

    Take care!

    • Minter Dial

      Hi @Mokhtaron,

      You do well to express yourself. In Facebook's battle to find a way to make money, one may easily start to feel like the "party is over" at Facebook; or, put another way, that the free ride is over. I think that the manipulation of Edge Rank is another way that Facebook is going to push brands to pay. Otherwise, all that work (investment in time and energy) in the form of `'engaging posts," will fall on deaf ears aka cyber space.

      When will Wall Street say that Facebook should charge $1/month for its users to have their own profile? Maybe there will be premium accounts, with upgraded services), that are worth paying for?

      Stuff to keep an eye out for!

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