User generated content key tool to improve sales
Figures released by Ciao UK show the development of brand engagement with social media over the last 12 months.
The research, conducted at London’s Internet World show in April 2010, spoke to 70 marketers and professionals from the online world.
A majority of 75% said that brands have become more comfortable engaging with consumers directly over the course of the last year. 62% said that they have started to engage directly with consumers, end users or clients to shape the future of their business. Of these, one in four (25%) chooses to do so through online forums.
More than one in three advertising and e-commerce professionals (37%), said that consumer input has had a positive impact on their business. Perhaps most positively, a total of 64% said that they had responded publically to online criticism – a figure that has almost doubled in the last 12 months. The number of people who moderate or delete online criticism also dropped significantly – from 18% in 2009 to 2% in 2010, highlighting an increased transparency in company communication.
Alexander Miller, Team Leader Sales Ciao Advertising UK at Microsoft, comments: “Brands have learned to address consumer concerns directly, whether it’s through face-to-face engagement or one of a range of increasingly powerful online communications channels. Honesty and transparency are the bywords of social media and brands who take that on board stand to benefit from a genuine, two-way relationship with their audience.”
The research also highlighted the value of user generated content (UGC), with 76% naming it as a key tool to improve sales. 96% specified peer-to-peer recommendations as one of the most influential forms of UGC and 31% said that online reviews were the single most effective and impactful forms of UGC.
Miller adds: “The willingness to engage directly with end users has given brands a better insight into consumer priorities. 83% of the people we spoke to said that they felt they had developed a good understanding of what motivates their customers as a result of their direct engagement tactics.”
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