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Guide to Earned Media Value (EMV): What It Is and How to Use It

Earned media value influencer marketing creator economy

The creator economy is here to stay. As brands continue to invest heavily in influencer marketing, it’s more important than ever that teams have tools to evaluate their programs’ performance. Earned Media Value, or EMV, is one of the most widely used KPIs for influencer campaigns—but it’s also one of the most commonly misunderstood. 

In this post, we’ll provide a comprehensive overview of EMV by outlining what it is, why it matters, and how brands can leverage it in their reporting. 

Read on to advance your understanding of Earned Media Value and related EMV metrics, and gain the tools you need to reliably monitor and benchmark the impact of your social media marketing strategies.

What Is Earned Media Value? 

Earned Media Value is an influencer marketing metric that’s used to quantify the value of social media content. EMV measures engagement with social media content about a brand that is created by a third party. This third party is typically an influencer, but EMV also accounts for posts from publications, retailers, and other brands. 

The value of engagement (or Earned Media Value) garnered by a given piece of content is attributed to all brands mentioned within that post. For example, imagine a lifestyle influencer shares her outfit on Instagram, and tags Coach, H&M, and Benefit Cosmetics. If the post generates engagement worth $500k EMV, Coach, H&M, and Benefit would all collect $500k EMV from this activity.

Tribe Dynamics, a CreatorIQ company, leverages proprietary technology to determine the specific Earned Media Value of digital content. This work has made EMV the go-to industry standard for measuring social media marketing performance. In combination with other EMV metrics, such as share of voice, influencer community size, and EMV retention, Earned Media Value can be used to evaluate the impact of influencer marketing campaigns and benchmark brands within their competitive landscapes.

Why Does Earned Media Value Matter?

Before we dive into how to calculate Earned Media Value, let’s cover why it’s an essential metric for social media marketing. 

First, in contrast to paid advertising KPIs, EMV captures all earned media: that is, any content about a brand that’s not created by that brand. Influencer endorsements and online word-of-mouth recommendations, like customer reviews, are both examples of earned media with the potential to drive serious sales conversions

Relative to other forms of social media marketing, earned media is especially valuable to brands because of its trustworthiness in the eyes of consumers. People are much more likely to make purchases based on advice from a friend or expert than from a paid ad. Because earned media typically represents a content creator’s unbiased opinion, it’s a key tool for building your brand’s reputation. 

Additionally, as the creator economy grows, influencer marketing is becoming increasingly integral to any brand’s success. Robust influencer programs are the most effective way for brands to increase the volume of earned media created about them—and, correspondingly, their Earned Media Value.

An influencer marketing manager working on a laptop.

How to Calculate Earned Media Value

Unfortunately, you can’t just type your brand’s name into an Earned Media Value calculator to gauge your social media marketing performance—but that doesn’t mean that it’s a black box. Like other EMV metrics, EMV is quantified using Tribe Dynamics’ proprietary algorithm. Three primary factors contribute to EMV figures: platforms, audience engagement, and creators. Let’s take a look at the roles that each of these variables play in how to calculate Earned Media Value.

Platforms

Not all content platforms are created equal, so Earned Media Value accounts for the platform a post is published on. For example, a YouTube video about your brand receives a higher baseline EMV figure than a Tweet, because a video generally requires more time to produce and consume. Tribe Dynamics’ influencer marketing software actively tracks EMV for content created on Instagram, YouTube, TikTok, Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter, as well as websites and blogs.

Audience Engagement

The majority of a post’s Earned Media Value performance depends on the engagement it receives from audience members—that is, the number of people that liked, commented, or shared this post after it was published. 

By focusing on engagement instead of other social media marketing metrics like reach and impressions, EMV provides a more accurate representation of content’s social relevance. A post won’t garner significant EMV if consumers passively scroll by it; instead, this post will score highly only when its viewers are inspired to interact with what a creator has to say.

Creators

As a holistic measure of earned media performance, Earned Media Value accounts for content from four types of third-party creators: influencers, brands, retailers, and publications. Because EMV metrics are primarily used to evaluate influencer marketing activities, influencer posts generally make up the majority of the EMV figures attributed to brands. However, if a third-party retailer, publication, or company creates content about a brand, this activity will also count towards that brand’s EMV. 

Broadly speaking, the larger a creator’s following, the more Earned Media Value they are likely to generate on a per-post basis. While EMV calculations do not specifically factor in creators’ audience size, more followers results in more opportunities for engagement, so content from established, popular creators tends to garner higher EMV totals than content from micro- and nano-influencers.

Two influencer marketers working on EMV at a desk, by Headway via Unsplash.

How Can Brands Use Earned Media Value?

Now that you have answers to questions like “What is Earned Media Value?” or “Why Does Earned Media Value Matter?,” and understand how to calculate Earned Media Value, you’re probably wondering how to incorporate it into your brand’s social media marketing strategy. As a KPI, EMV is most helpful when it’s tracked alongside other EMV metrics, like influencer community size and share of voice. A combination of these metrics can be used to effectively monitor an influencer marketing program’s success over time. 

Marketers can use Earned Media Value to benchmark the impact that individual posts, influencers, products, and campaigns have on brand awareness and reputation. For example, when Kosas debuted its Brow Team collection, the makeup brand identified top EMV-driving creators to include in its launch promotion, and kept a close eye on the campaign’s overall EMV to evaluate its success. 

Many influencer marketing managers also use Earned Media Value to benchmark their programs’ performance against competitor brands’ performance, and even map their EMV growth to industry-wide trends. CreatorIQ’s interactive Top 10 Leaderboard and monthly reports rank the top 10 beauty and fashion brands by EMV across multiple verticals and markets, helping category leaders understand their position within the competitive landscape. 

Earned Media Value is the single most established metric for performance benchmarking within both the creator economy and the social media marketing space more broadly. Equipped with a solid foundation in EMV and related KPIs, brands can paint a holistic picture of their influencer marketing success, make data-driven decisions to improve their strategy, and set themselves up for lasting growth.

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This blog post was originally created by Christina Vasiliou, and has been updated with recent insights.

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“Working with Tribe Dynamics over the past 5+ years has been a true partnership in every sense of the word. The sophistication in their data is unmatched in the industry, and the level of insight in their analysis has become indispensable for any marketer in the beauty space today. They’re truly best-in-class.”

Mehdi Mehdi, VP Digital & eCommerce,
NYX Professional Makeup

“Working with Tribe Dynamics over the past 5+ years has been a true partnership in every sense of the word. The sophistication in their data is unmatched in the industry, and the level of insight in their analysis has become indispensable for any marketer in the beauty space today. They’re truly best-in-class.”

Mehdi Mehdi, VP Digital & eCommerce,
NYX Professional Makeup