What’s the next leap for user generated content?

Discussion
Source: lampsplus.com
Mar 19, 2018
Tom Ryan

At Canon, 80 percent of its web and social content is reportedly now UGC (user generated content). To increase the quality of that content, Canon has brought its social media team in-house.

“At the end of the day, people that work inside a brand are more passionate about it and it’s easier to get that authentic message from internally,” said Tim Wilford, the camera maker’s editorial and consumer engagement specialist, at Socialbakers’ Engage Bali conference, according to Adnews.

To increase the variety and depth of its UGC, Lamps Plus recently added a Q&A section to each page so that customers can submit questions on products or view previously asked questions. The retailer also added visual reviews to provide a component beyond text reviews, according to Chain Store Age. Customers are also now invited to share why they purchased the product at checkout.

Lamps Plus enters customers in a drawing for a $500 shopping spree on its site as an incentive for providing a review or answering a question. Angela Hsu, SVP of Internet Business and Marketing for Lamps Plus, told Retail TouchPoints, “Even without offering incentives in these two areas, we still receive substantial amounts of UGC that provide great value for other customers to better understand our products and find answers they need.”

Timbuk2, best known for its messenger bags, recently upgraded its website to enable social imagery to be featured at the product detail page level, providing online shoppers with real-world examples of its merchandise in action.

In February, Chanel launched @welovecoco, its first Instagram platform entirely dedicated to user-generated content. Wrote Lauren Levinson for Harper’s Bazar, “It’s not only a way for the pros behind Chanel to interact more closely with their community, but it’s a way for makeup-lovers everywhere to get their content regrammed by Chanel.”

UGC continues to be touted as a way to reduce traditional content production costs and increase trustworthiness since studies continue to show that social media posts, product reviews and other types of UGC have a bigger influence on consumers than marketing copy from brands. A new study from ResellerRatings found only 17 percent of shoppers trust retailer-recommended products over reviews from customers

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: What advice do you have for better integrating and fully capitalizing on user-generated content? Do you see user ratings and reviews, Q&A, pictures, videos or some other UGC medium as ideally suited for retailers? Can you think of a retailer that is nailing UGC?

Please practice The RetailWire Golden Rule when submitting your comments.
Braintrust
"Retailers should encourage generating content and have in place technologies to facilitate it, including videos, photos and text."
"Luckily for Cannon, they are in a market where the users are actively driven to further their hobby and have content that they would like to share."
"What all retailers need to realize is that UGC is a tool and not a replacement for providing great in-store service..."

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13 Comments on "What’s the next leap for user generated content?"


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Art Suriano
BrainTrust

UGC has tremendous potential to be a viable tool and is proven that already, but it’s still in its early stages. Customers do use social media to learn about products as well as to complain about products and service. How a retailer can motivate the customer to write positive comments will still come from the customer having an excellent customer experience. Customer product reviews are beneficial because they let both the manufacturer and the retailer understand how the customer used the product and what they liked or perhaps didn’t like.

What all retailers need to realize is that UGC is a tool and not a replacement for providing great in-store service through well-trained associates and exceptional online experience with an easy to navigate website and friendly chat. Great service still will be the best driver to motivate customers to take the time to visit UGC areas and post positive comments.

Joel Goldstein
BrainTrust

Luckily for Cannon, they are in a market where the users are actively driven to further their hobby and have content that they would like to share. Unfortunately for CPG products and other consumer goods, it will be a challenge and ultimately on the business to encourage the UGC to be submitted.

An area that does very well with this is cosmetics, with users sending in selfies with hashtags that will get their brand to participate in the online conversation. Sephora has done well with their Beauty Insider Community becoming a frequent contributor on their Instagram.

Lyle Bunn (Ph.D. Hon)
Guest

The “because” word following an opinion and comprising valid reasons and facts that support the opinion or review offers a useful filter for posting approval. User generated comments should require the inclusion of positive or negative features, and when there are negative comments the brand should be brave enough to post them. Sears was one firm that would never allow negative comments to be made. Bad on them.

Nir Manor
BrainTrust

UGC is a great opportunity for every retailer to better engage with consumers and shoppers. Retailers should encourage generating content and have in place technologies to facilitate it, including videos, photos and text. B&M retailers can get a lot of insights about their brand, service level and customers satisfaction, down to a single store level. There are in the market automated solutions to facilitate and track insights from UGC. A great example is Revuze.it that turns UGC into powerful actionable insights.

Ian Percy
BrainTrust

Innovative UGC strategies are noted in this piece. Some of them are contradictory as far as internal vs external is concerned. Canon’s Tim Wilford believes “people that work inside a brand are more passionate about it and it’s easier to get that authentic message from internally.” Take a look at the research regarding employee engagement and that conclusion becomes a little iffy. (32 percent for employees.)

When you bring people whose brilliance at one time came from “out of the box” into the box to live with you, eat your food, wear your swag, sit in the same meeting rooms … it will not be long before they too think like you. The only reason to do that is to have control.

A better approach might be to leave your social media people separate but have them under an exclusive contract that is reviewed regularly. Or at the very least have them exclusive as far as your product or service is concerned. Having them think only about you will also limit their imagination.

Doug Garnett
BrainTrust
11 months 20 hours ago

My advice? Take care.

Canon’s cameras create a following that is passionate and filled with amateur photographers who love building and displaying expertise as well as professionals who need to display their abilities.

That makes Canon a perfect place for UGC. But Lamps Plus and Timbuktu? I just don’t see it.

User generated content has its place. But I’ve dealt with companies time after time over the past 15 years who get excited about UGC only to find out it’s a very bad fit for what they do.

Just because it’s a good idea for someone else doesn’t mean UGC is a strong approach for every business. Retailers need to look at this with steely eyed honesty before jumping.

Evan Snively
BrainTrust

Agreed that Canon’s business gives them an unfair advantage at relevant and high quality UGC, but good on them for taking advantage.

For me, Timbuk2 finds itself in the “close, but not quite” category. Many other companies who make bags can be successful at UGC because their usage comes in more photo-friendly/inspiring scenarios (North Face, Patagonia, Cotopaxi, etc). Unfortunately Timbuk2’s daily grind doesn’t lend itself to the same.

L+ should just stick to professional imagery shared by users through channels like Instagram and Pinterest.

Doug Garnett
BrainTrust
11 months 19 hours ago

Good points all around. I hesitated on Timbuktu — but they’ve moved far beyond their “enthusiast” origins to become mass market.

Chris Buecker
BrainTrust

In future, UGC will be an important way to create an increasing and loyal community. To have superusers writing reviews of products and brand activities will be great, however, No. 1 rule needs to be that the content is honest, informative and adding value to the readers. Canon is indeed a very good example. In a sector that has been losing 20% each year over the past years, Canon reinvented itself with a shift in their business model.

Michael La Kier
BrainTrust

Perhaps it is best to think of this not as User Generated Content — and the question not how do we better integrate UGC – but rather, how can we increase engagement between consumers and brands. UGC is an expression of that relationship. Brands that highlight people’s contribution to (and love of) should reciprocate that love by recognizing their audience. Reviews and photos are ideal ways to do this.

Evan Snively
BrainTrust

One of the most successful implementations I have come across recently are Warby Parker’s videos that are made in response to user questions. They are more of a UGC-hybrid with the actual content being created by the brand, but they are spurred by consumer content and delivered in the same manner that an authentic UG video might be (low production setup with one person talking to the camera). This lends them a level of authenticity and trust that is not available through mass-marketed media. (Here is a link if anyone is curious.)

Additionally, UGC can be very successful when it reinforces what a potential consumer wants to see, essentially giving them “permission to proceed” with the transaction. If companies find that there are FAQs about their product, they would be well served to try and find UGC which answers them in a positive manner.

Ricardo Belmar
BrainTrust

We’re still in the early stages of successful UGC use by retailers. You really need to have two things to make the most out of user-generated reviews, images, etc. (which is still the focus today):

  1. Products that lend themselves to be shown in-context with user-submitted images and that inspire creative applications;
  2. Passionate users that feel deeply connected to those products in a way they are comfortable sharing to like audiences.

So you might not be successful relying on UGC to sell salt and pepper shakers, BUT, you might be successful using UGC to help sell entire place settings for special occasions that use those same salt and pepper shakers along with 10 other products! An inspired customer who used those products at a special event might be motivated to post content about it if their friends commented on the products during the event.

I believe we’ll see more UGC over time, and this will expand beyond today’s product reviews and Instagram photos!

Vahe Katros
Guest
Vahe Katros
11 months 13 hours ago
I looked at the Lamps Plus site and it’s very impressive and I offer the following fictional account for the back story. Lamps Plus Experience Design Leader: “Lamps Plus realized that if we just sold lamps we were dead, so we asked ourselves, why do we exist, surely it was more than just the geographic location of our stores. In fact, people came to our stores after visiting our website so we went digging. “We realized real fast that we were part of a trend called the “at home” economy — you know, the lifestyle facilitated by Netflix, high speed internet, Domino’s, and home delivery. So once we realized the context, we went looking for how and why people shopped the website and store and we realized that our customers knew more than we did. Of course, some of those customers were professionals, so we thought, let’s capture some of the specifics, but really get narrow and deep, because our customers were really into nailing the ‘at home’ experience. The more we studied, the better… Read more »
wpDiscuz
Braintrust
"Retailers should encourage generating content and have in place technologies to facilitate it, including videos, photos and text."
"Luckily for Cannon, they are in a market where the users are actively driven to further their hobby and have content that they would like to share."
"What all retailers need to realize is that UGC is a tool and not a replacement for providing great in-store service..."

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