By  on August 17, 2017
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The game of telephone is getting an upgrade. Consumers are increasingly being swayed by social product placement, specifically consumer-generated content.A new report released by BazaarVoice, a network that connects brands and shoppers, reviewed the rising relevance and ROI of CGC. The results were collected by a third-party research partner, Maru Matchbox from a survey of over 3,000 online shoppers in the U.S., U.K., Germany and France. The primary purpose of the study was to improve understanding of the role of CGC throughout the shopping journey — from product discovery to post-purchase.The research confirmed that a brand’s social presence is correlated to consumer buying experiences. “Shoppers are creating and sharing more visual content related to their buying experiences, and they’re paying more attention to each other’s opinions than to what brands have to say. The most successful brands are those which are finding ways to take advantage of this consumer trend, and who are making social visual CGC work for them,” the report said.The retail climate has become less about transactions and more about shopper experiences. With that, social presents a venue to message narratives and introduce new collections and items — and consumers are watching.“Increasingly, we are seeing products and brands becoming a significant part of the social experience,” the report said. “Almost half of
 all online shoppers (45 percent) follow or like a brand or product account on social media, and nearly the same proportion of shoppers (42 percent) say they’ve seen other social media users post pictures or videos of brands and products.”Consumers are hungry for new sources of buying inspiration. Where do they turn? To social, of course. “Their engagement with brand social content — posted both by other shoppers (38 percent) and by the brands themselves (34 percent) — is high. For example, a quarter of shoppers report actively searching for photos or videos of real people using a specific product or brand,” the report said.Social media branding strategies shouldn’t be confused for a silver bullet, however. Shopping continues to remain a tactile experience for many. And while social may not fully replace this tendency, it can supplement it. “Visual CGC can be a powerful way to overcome the need to see a product in person. In fact, when we asked infrequent shoppers what would make them more likely to make online purchases, over one third cited reviews from real people and/or photos and videos from other shoppers,” said the report.If said conversions are successful, brands stand to gain not only more profits, but also untapped vehicles to spread their message. The research found that online shoppers are fervently more active spenders. “One in three shoppers are spending $200 or more a month. Active social media users tend to spend three times as much as everyone else ($580 per month vs. $189),” the report said.Consumers’ preference to view images posted by real people also surpassed traditional word of mouth, the research found. Twenty percent of participants said they opt for peer-posted pictures versus 19 percent, who asked friends and family. Brands are only as good as their last review — fifty-five percent said that reviews they can read make them the most confident in purchases.Social can make or break consumers’ perception of a brand’s authenticity. By all means, avoid sending stock images into the social sphere. Almost half (45 percent) of online shoppers agree that studio or stock images posted by brands or retailers are more likely than consumer pictures to make them think the product claims are exaggerated.”Basic images shouldn’t be necessary if a brand’s social strategy is to celebrate CGC. The report said, “Consumers simply trust other consumers more. 56 percent of online shoppers say that pictures and videos from other shoppers give them the most accurate depiction of the experience they can expect from a brand.” What’s more, 65 percent said they trust a brand more if they link to social media posts from real customers.More from WWD:The Personalization Persuasion: How-To Improve Need-Now Customer ServiceOrganically Minded Consumers Shop for Superfood CPGsInsights on the Evolving Role of Content 

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