The POSSE media model

It’s been a few years since I posted the original Own, Bought and Earned media model and the slightly updated version a little while later.

Although it is still a good way to think through your media options, it does feel as though the model is a bit too simple nowadays.

So I have come up with a new one, called the POSSE media model. I’ll explain it below the diagram:

The POSSE media model is built on two basic levels of activity: to produce and distribute content. The better you do these two things (and the more it is based on listening and understanding your audience) the more media exposure you will earn.

Produce content. Can be classed as Owned and/or Social

  • Owned

This is the media you have (more-or-less) complete control over, e.g. a corporate web-site, or a retail store.

  • Social

This refers to branded social media presence such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Vimeo. Social platforms that give you a chance to build a presence as a brand. Note that you do not have much control over these in terms of functionality, and the terms of the service can change at any point. (Steve Sponder calls this Borrowed media, which makes sense but I think overstates the transience of these networks. Also I think Social works as a term for now at least, as it is widely understood by people).

  • Overlap of Social + Owned

This is at least two things:

1. Brand-generated platforms or communities specifically designed for customers to co-create and collaborate with brands. (e.g. Dell’s IdeaStorm and Starbuck’s MyStarbucksIdea.) (what Brian Solis calls “Shared” media)

2. Own content such as videos that are the fuel for a brand’s social channels. You do have complete control over the format of your own video (within reason) but the video ultimately boosts other media owners’ site visits. They may also place ads before or after your content without asking your permissions, for example.

Distribute content: can be classified as Paid and/or Seeded

  • Paid

Media placements that you have paid for. Think SEM, banners, sponsorships. It can also be “traditional” media placements such as TV, Print, Outdoor. Paid media is still important, especially if you want a lot of people to see a fairly consistent message about you.

  • Seeded

This is referring to seeding of content among “influencers”. PR agencies, or WOM agencies like 1000heads, can help to build these relationships, identifying who to speak to and how to persuade them to feature your content. Sometimes these will be the people with the biggest reach, but often those people are deluged with requests. So instead, the seeding often happens with brand advocates, people who are genuinely fans of your product or service, or at least people who have shown a previous interest in products like yours in the past. This helps with the credibility and authenticity of their post(s).

  • Overlap of Paid + Seeded

This is where I would put things such as sponsored stories on Facebook, or Twitter’s promoted products, both of which cost money and are based on advertising to people’s social graph. It is interesting that social-media agencies are the ones who are picking up on this, whereas traditional media agencies are struggling with it. “Paid seeding” is also possible using partners such as GoViral who have a network of video sites, or by paying YouTube to feature your video to its users to give it an initial push and get it noticed.

If you do all of the above well, you get some “Earned Media”

This is people posting and talking about your product and its advertising. If you do things well with your own media, choose and manage your social presences wisely, seed to the right people at the right time, and perhaps pay to get noticed by more people, then you should hopefully earn media too. It will give your content extra push (distribution), and you will have earned it so these will be considered the most authentic voices of all. But you cannot guaranteed the message at all, so a lot of what is distributed may be unrelated to your intended communications. Really, positive earned media is a measure of how interesting your content is and how well you distributed it.

Why “POSSE”?

Well, acronyms are always cool, aren’t they?

But in this case, it serves a second purpose. New media techniques such as these are about people, and they need skilled people to make them happen. You can’t have one person spending a load on one advert and expect it to succeed like it used to. Instead, you need to hire many people, with new and diverse skills: editorial content, community management, search engine optimization, blogger relationship management, UX experts, etc etc. In other words, you can’t fix this problem by throwing money at it; to succeed in this new media landscape, you need the right kind of POSSE.


– This thinking was hugely influenced by the original Nokia digital posse (you know who you are), plus lots of people who commented online and in person about my original post.
Brian Solis, who’s Brandsphere is very smart and taught me a lot, but maybe a little complicated for me.
Steve Sponder, who made the excellent PONBE model which clearly influenced this model.

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11 thoughts on “The POSSE media model

  1. […] See the article here: The POSSE media model « ALL THAT IS GOOD […]

  2. Nice concept. If this is seen only from a platform perspective, it might have value. However, if we see it from a general Social Business point of view, it lacks some important logical basic understanding of Social Media: Social does also have a context component if executed correctly. Brands that listen properly, engage on other platforms and thus distribute their credentials and input via “Social” to get feedback and start the conversation not only on owned platforms. IMHO. See also…

    PS: And this comment could stand as an example for the commented execution…

  3. dagood says:

    Hi Martin!

    I totally agree that it is a good idea to be part of the community, engaging and listening. To me, listening should be central to any good communications strategy.

    But this model is primarily about producing and distributing content, which as I said “the more it is based on listening and understanding your audience”

    Running the “social” part of this properly involves creating and sharing great content, and also answering questions (which is basically customer service). But their is a real challenge to scalability of this (see my good friend Saara’s post on this:

    PS you don’t *have* to engage in social media at all, of course. Apple don’t seem to do it, for example 😉

  4. Seeded overlaps way more with Social than owned. And creative rendition of owned means it would get seeded as well.

    And we are forgetting about creating content that is so viral in nature, you dont need to approach someone to seed it, it spreads because people LOVE it and is EXCITED about it ( instead of being just interested in it). An easy example is LOLcats and LOLdogs. Another example can be when Nokia released 3D maps – people caught up with it way before any owned channels or agencies started talking about it. And they talked about it because they loved it and were excited about it.

    It is difficult to bring love and excitement to everyday use of media, but that does not mean they should be discounted.

  5. dagood says:

    Hi Surya!

    I think we actual agree, which is not surprising… but I think you are underestimating the impact of distribution of content.

    Seeding, in my definition, is the active distribution of content. Social (Media) is one channel that is “produced”, which if successful may lead to “earned media” i.e sharing of branded content or status updates on my personal page.

    “Nokia released 3D maps.” I would say that in that case, the maps *are* your own media. Or at least one of the main media channels you have. And it spread because a lot of people saw it and because it was interesting 🙂

    When you say “we are forgetting about creating content that is so viral in nature, you dont need to approach someone to seed it” that is similar to me saying ” this is actually what i am saying when I wrote “positive earned media is a measure of how interesting your content is” except that, in my opinion, you vastly increase your chances of “viral” success by seeding and distributing the content well – see Duncan Watts work on Big Seed Marketing for some data that backs this up.

    But I will think about your comments some more and see if I can incorporate them more clearly! 🙂


  6. ‘POSSE’. Only you dude, only you 😉


  7. saara says:

    I’m liking the updated model! There’s one thing though that I’ve always found missing from models that describe content distribution and creation and even more so now that I work with a brand that doesn’t always take the traditional route when it comes to building up campaigns and other marketing activities.

    The “neighbourhood” is hard to place within this model. And with neighborhood I mean other actors who have a common or vested interest in something your company is doing. Not consumers, but other brands.

    A recent example could be for example Coke’s and Spotify’s strategic partnership (

    Not all brands can or should look into similar strategies, but I’m definitely seeing a trend where it’s starting to be more common for two or several brands to work together to achieve bigger things than what they could on their own.

    This is not new of course, but I think we’ve seen a lot more creative executions and deeper co-ops in this space lately, rather than just doing a logo exchange. This can be an important vehicle for brands to reach out to whole new audiences.

    I’m not sure if the model even has to describe each and every form of content creation and way of distributing it since I suppose models exist to make complicated things simple to understand. Just wanted to bring up the neighbourhood marketing topic and see what your thoughts are!

  8. dagood says:

    @saara that’s a good point. bartered media based and partnerships are a huge part of marketing now – as you guys at Angry Birds know very well!

    Clearly, the amount of earned media is proportional to the amount of cool things you are *doing* (random acts of kindness, cool partnerships, innovative products etc) not just what you are saying. As I said to Surya, this model does not really go into the quality of the content itself, which is obviously a huge driver of the success in terms of earned media.

    But, perhaps I should add some words into “seeding” – in order to build a network that will help spread your message(s), you had better be doing things for them, and with them, so that they consider you a trusted partner and want to offer value back.

  9. juuuso says:

    Good stuff.

    I like the model, as it’s simple enough to capture the essence of what’s happening now. I believe that marketing content is breaking up into two distinct types: firstly your high production value bespoke creations and secondly a more transient flow type of content which fills the gaps and is nimble by nature. The business problems brand try to solve by broadcasting either type also vary quite significantly, as do their broadcast mechanisms.

    Personally I believe that fragmentation has become the #1 marketing challenge of any digital marketer, as more channels keep popping up and various content has different tasks in the communication matrix – and budgets aren’t getting any bigger, so the resources per channel are growing smaller all the time. The risk in fragmentation is that no matter how well thought through your plan is, the consumer is just exposed to a shared or re-shared shard of a campaign and the full impact of the messaging is lost.

    The POSSE model can help orchestrate some of the efforts to make sure this doesn’t happen too much, but I think there will be some innovation in the way assets are also taken to the market in the future that will help solve some of these problems. But anyways, keep up the good work Dan. A really interesting read.

  10. dagood says:

    Great stuff as always, Juuso.

    Totally agree with your point about the two types of content. Need to have a think about that for a future post!

  11. […] and it has significantly evolved from its earlier incarnations (for reference see 1, 2, 3 & 4). While the thinking behind the models has been very useful to me when planning and executing […]

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