From photos of avocado on toast to selfies and holiday snaps, more than 80 million photos are uploaded to Instagram every single day. On Twitter, there are 6,000 tweets posted every second of every day. In 2016, the explosive growth in content shared on social networks shows no signs of slowing down, with brands increasingly adding to these volumes through content marketing programmes.

Despite understanding the importance of good, quality content to engage customers – few brands have yet to fully utilise photos, videos and other endorsements posted by their fans online. Instead, brands have focused their investment on creating new branded content to share with their communities.

But many brands aren’t content with their content marketing. Increasingly, brands are recognising that producing content is simply too time consuming and expensive to maintain. Keeping standards high is tough and by aiming to recreate the most popular social content, which tends to be user-generated photos and video, brands end up with something that is inauthentic and feels too much like advertising.

There is a simple solution

Rather than producing content, we’re starting to see brands rethink their content marketing strategies and place greater emphasis on curation over creation. From holiday snaps or ‘outfit selfies’ posted on Instagram to messages of thanks and positive reviews shared on Twitter, there is an ever growing supply of authentic, social content available for brands to make use of.

By selectively curating the most useful images, videos and posts, brands can build this into the shopping experience, helping consumers make more informed decisions. By sharing useful and relevant social content at the right moment, when shoppers are intent on making a purchase but still weighing up the various options, brands can give consumers the assurance needed to commit to making a purchase.

Aside from being more authentic – user-generated content is after all generated by real people – it is greatly value valued by consumers, who like to see other shoppers think. In fact, a study commissioned by digital marketing agency Greenlight recently shows that more than a third of consumers like to see brands share user-generated images (37%) or interact with their customers on social networks (35%), while 15% of shoppers like to see brands retweet, regram or re-share other users' video and photos.

Social content is clearly valued by consumers

As a result, we expect to see more brands enhance the shopping experience in 2016 by curating social content and feeding this into online stores and marketing. By targeting shoppers with social content at the moment when it’s most relevant, brands can not only give sales a boost, but they can actually improve the shopper’s experience while driving loyalty.

Imagine if you’re thinking about going on a cruise. You will probably start by researching the various brands online. You might even search for inspiration from top travel bloggers and Instagram users. After putting a little time into your search, you’ll probably start looking into a few different cruise lines and travel companies. It’s at that moment when you’re deciding where to go and who to go with that seeing endorsements from other customers who have been on a cruise is most powerful.

Viewing photos, videos, reviews and other posts shared by real people that have enjoyed a cruise or maybe even multiple cruises, at the moment when you’re thinking about booking a cruise, can provide shoppers with the reassurance needed to make a booking there and then.

As more brands swap content creation for curation, we will see even more brands incorporate social content into their owned sites in 2016. By changing tack on content marketing and becoming curators, brands can help consumers come to a decision faster through authentic, third party endorsements, thereby helping to convert more consumers into loyal customers and reduce basket abandonment.

 

By Jordan Kretchmer, founder and CEO of Livefyre





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