The Difference Between Owned & Borrowed Audiences - Carney
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The Difference Between Owned & Borrowed Audiences

What does it mean to know, own, and engage with your audience effectively? Today, we’re going to teach you a little bit about managing two important audiences.

What is a “Borrowed” Audience?

A “borrowed” audience is your following on a platform (mainly social media) that allows you to access people indirectly. While network effects make it easier to quickly reach the masses, you’re building on someone else’s platform and do not own this list of followers.


  • It’s easy and can be cheaper to tap into.
  • Great for experimenting with content.


  • Oversaturation – too many people posting too many things.
  • You are often at the mercy of algorithms and any platform issues (we’re looking at you, Facebook).

What is an Owned Audience? 

An owned (or earned) audience is the following that has given you their email address voluntarily. They have subscribed for select communication that you offer (updates, marketing, newsletters, etc.)


  • Direct communication with a primed audience.
  • It can be platform-agnostic – you can take your list anywhere.


  • Requires more effort and risk to get started.
  • It’s going to require more maintenance such as list hygiene.

No matter which audience type your brand engages more, it’s important to have a little bit of both to maintain a strong brand presence. Oftentimes you can use your borrowed audience as a way to feed your owned audience. Just be mindful of the pros and cons for each, and the changing tides of each platform.

Check out the full post at the Bootstrapped Founder’s blog for more insights and words of advice.


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