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Websites and social media

Paid, owned and earned media 

Whether you are considering online or offline marketing channels, the idea of paid, owned and earned media is a useful way to develop a more integrated approach to your communications and marketing. While this concept is particularly helpful in the digital space where brand advocacy, word-of-mouth and social sharing is the norm, it also applies to traditional communication tactics too.

Paid media includes any type of exposure on a third party’s channel or platform that you pay for. Paid media can be a good way to gain immediate exposure and to drive traffic to your owned assets.

Owned media are the assets you manage including those where you self-publish content and messages. Owned media is commonly thought of as cost-effective as the tools are ‘free’. However, owning media platforms requires significant investment to manage and generate ongoing content. Owned media offers the opportunity to directly engage with your audience on your own terms.

Earned media is the exposure you don’t control but which you earn through the creation of relevant, engaging content distributed through owned or earned channels. Earned media results both in better reach and greater engagement and is essentially free promotion of your brand. This free promotion is usually the product of a unique brand position, relevant and targeted offer or your success in emotionally engaging with your audience.

Paid, owned and earned media work together and shouldn’t be considered in isolation. When developing your digital communications strategy consider the role each type of media will play in helping you achieve your objectives, as well as how they will work to support each other.

Approval process

Marketing communications activities that use digital channels (paid and unpaid) as part of an integrated approach must be approved as part of the PCAG approval process.

Owned digital or social media presence
If you want to establish a presence on digital or social media platforms for use as part of day-to-day public relations, marketing or media relations, a social media strategy will be required. Departmental approval will be required prior to implementation. 

A Social Media Strategy template is available on the GCA website.

For more information regarding the PCAG approval process for communications activities or how to make a submission to the PCAG please refer to Guidelines for the Premier’s Advisory Group Process.

Owned digital channels

There are a number of owned digital channels that you can use to support your ongoing communication, marketing and media relations efforts including:

  • websites
  • social media channels
  • blogs
  • electronic direct mail
  • mobile content (SMS, apps, games)

Owned digital channels can be used to support campaign activity by promoting your messages and providing a place for paid media to drive people to. If you are thinking of establishing additional owned channels (e.g. social media) it is recommended that you establish these before you go live with a specific campaign, so you have a good understanding of what is involved in managing them and mitigating risk. 

Owned digital channels should be considered permanent communication infrastructure and require a long-term commitment. When assessing which channels you want to use you should consider:

  • your aim and objectives
  • who your target audience is, what digital channels they use and how they use them
  • how you plan to use digital media to support offline communication and engagement – what role will it play?
  • what you can reasonably resource – digital channels are not ‘set-and-forget’
  • the experience and capability within your team – are there any skills gaps?
  • ongoing costs, licensing fees and support required to maintain your digital assets

Each type of digital platform is different and will require different experience and resourcing. 


The South Australian Government has committed to a Common Internet Site for Government (CISfG) – www.sa.gov.au. The site has been developed to make SA Government services and information much easier for the community to access by providing a single-entry point for the community to access core government services and information. 

A number of government agencies maintain their own websites outside of sa.gov.au. As a critical piece of communication and brand infrastructure, your corporate website is an important platform and should be regularly reviewed. 

Websites that sit outside sa.gov.au should have prior approval and will need to comply with guidelines and policies issued by the Office for Customer, ICT and Digital Transformation to ensure consistency across government.

If you are creating a new campaign website or making changes to an existing campaign website, you will need to seek approval through the PCAG process.

Please contact domain.names@sa.gov.au for approval of new domain names.

Development of short-term or campaign specific websites require approval from either GCA or PCAG, depending on total anticipated budget.

Further information on governance, content, accessibility and metadata considerations when developing or maintaining your website can be found here. If you are unable to access this link please contact the Office for Customer, ICT and Digital Transformation on 8226 3383.

For more information on website updates, development, SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) and accessibility please refer to the Digital Communications Guidelines.

Social media

Many government agencies are already using social media for internal and external communications strategies. It provides a range of opportunities to connect directly with customers and communities through two-way conversations. When managed well, social media can:

  • improve reputation through increased transparency and better service delivery
  • create opportunities for active and positive engagement with the community
  • deliver timely and relevant information that can be shared
  • listen to what people are saying about your organisation and ask for feedback 
  • supplement existing and future communications activities
  • be a flexible and low-cost communications platform.
When to use social media

The decision to set up a social media channel should not be considered lightly. While the platforms themselves may be ‘free’, managing social media channels can be resource intensive.

A sound social media strategy will provide a clear framework for use of social media by your agency. Development of your social media strategy should include a risk assessment, gap analysis and development of performance indicators.

For more information on developing your social media strategy and how to use social media please refer to the Digital Communications Guidelines.

For more information on digital communications please refer to the Digital Communications Guidelines.