CEO at bazaar voicethe leading provider of product reviews and user-generated content (UGC) solutions.
There is one thing that all brand marketers, ecommerce professionals and social media executives are experiencing in the current stage of ecommerce evolution: the content that drives awareness and purchases of their products is increasingly being created by their customers, not theirs. marketing This has led to what I call the economy of influence.
One of my favorite quotes is from Scott Cook, the co-founder of Intuit. He once said, “A brand is no longer what we tell consumers it is. It’s what consumers tell each other it is.” In today’s ecommerce environment, virtually anyone can go online to chat and showcase their experience with your brand, products and services – and today that content determines what your brand represents to other consumers.
Think back to a recent purchase you made online. What has helped you to find and form an opinion about a brand or product? It was user generated content (UGC), right? Today, in addition to branded content about your products, there are millions of consumers writing reviews online. And there are bloggers, influencers and regular social media users who share opinions, photos, how-to videos and lifestyle content related to your products. Essentially, the discovery of your product content has been democratized by all these content creators. This is what I mean by the influence economy.
It can be scary to lose that control. It has the power to influence stock prices and refocus the strategy of companies in our industry. Responding to this will require significant change in the way brands organise, listen to and interact with consumers. The business-to-consumer (B2C) model has become truly consumer-to-business (C2B) driven as consumers tell us what to do. With more places than ever for your customers to discover and buy your products, consumers—now more than ever—are in control of their buying journey, and brands that don’t recognize this shift will ignore it at their peril.
When you hear the term influencer economics, the first thing you might think of is influencer relationships, such as when brands partner with celebrities or social influencers to promote their products online. But in reality, the economy of influence consists of two main factors.
1. A continuous feedback loop
The influence economy looks at influence more broadly than just a single content type or channel strategy. It looks at all the ways consumers are influenced by content. It then listens, measures and optimizes the interactions between three groups: consumers, brands and retailers.
Brands and retailers have traditionally focused on what they want to sell versus what consumers actually want from them. If salespeople take the time to really listen and gather the insights from content interactions and experiences between each of these groups, and take a data-driven approach to these insights, they will know with confidence what to prioritize to deliver a better customer. to create and product experience.
If you take the time to collect data and listen, you have an “always on” feedback loop. If you can measure what content you have, who creates it, and how it affects others, you have a powerful recipe for success. You can answer the most pressing business questions and understand where and how to improve your customers’ experience. Keeping a finger on the pulse of consumer perception makes your entire organization stronger. Listening to and learning from customer sentiment improves marketing messages, identifies product errors, and gathers ideas for new products or service improvements
And it’s a full feedback loop, providing actionable insights at every stage of the consumer buying journey. From awareness to loyalty, measuring and understanding when you can influence others and be influenced in return are crucial. Understanding how to stack up against competitors can help you gain or maintain a competitive advantage and have the information at your fingertips that sets your brand apart.
2. Content-Based Trading
The second part of the influence economy is embracing content-driven commerce – all content, not just your content. For every consumer who leaves a review, shares a photo, asks a question, or posts on social media, there are hundreds, even thousands, more listening and being influenced in some way about your brand or product. We are increasingly seeing consumer-driven content as the catalyst in the e-commerce engine, fueling consumer confidence, inspiration and discovery. Why? Because trust and empathy between consumers are the driving force behind conversion and commerce today more than ever.
Your content should be a mix from a wide variety of sources. Yes, you have your internal content team. But increasingly, it’s also coming from your third-party content creators — from your everyday consumers, subject matter experts, social media influencers, and even celebrities. When brands encourage and enable external content creation, they benefit from channel efficiency and consumer scale for their businesses.
Key learning points
We live in a world where we are forced to embrace the loss of control over what our brand represents. The influence economy is our future, where brands can regain some control by measuring and optimizing all the ways that content can influence and then act on that insight.
Forward-thinking brands are now preparing for and participating in the economy of influence. To be successful in your organization, your industry and your career in the future, you need to focus on influence. With the shared ownership of what your brand represents, companies that optimize and adapt to the economy of influence by investing in technology, telling a story, and leveraging customer advocacy and consumer feedback will reap the rewards.
The speed of change we’ve seen since the start of the pandemic has taught us that we can’t afford to fall behind in e-commerce. Online shopping is evolving at lightning speed and the influence economy is a major driver of that change. The sooner brands and retailers embrace the fact that customers are in control and start working with them, the sooner they will see success.