Today’s brands have started turning the spotlight away from themselves, and toward their loyal customers, employees and brand fans, letting the content those groups create fuel more and more of their marketing activities.
User-generated content (UGC) has been established as some of the most engaging content out there. People like it because it comes from real people, it’s authentic, it’s more relatable than polished branded content, the list goes on.
Increasingly, brands are capitalizing on this content strategy by featuring UGC in their social feeds, on their websites, in ads and emails.
Consider these statistics:
When you look at the rapidly growing world of online shopping, the lines have begun to blur between content and commerce. Online stores are increasingly feeding content from social media into their websites, as social media channels roll out advanced features for brands to create fully functioning eCommerce stores in-app.
While the competition in eCommerce is fiercer than ever, brands have ample freedom at this moment to experiment and discover what engages consumers the most.
And as online experiences evolve quickly, it’s an opportunity to try something new to stay ahead of competitors.
Enter shoppable content
The eCommerce brands that can provide the best, and most seamless path to purchase will inevitably be the ones that see the highest engagement and sales. This is why brands are looking to create purchasing opportunities wherever they can, which includes making content (images, videos, blogs, etc.) increasingly shoppable.
Shoppable content experiences can eliminate steps in the traditional buyer’s journey, reducing the chances that potential buyers will fall off on their path to purchase.
In a best-case scenario, shoppable content ensures that consumers are only one or two clicks away from getting the product they desire when inspiration strikes. It’s online shopping made fast, easy, seamless and engaging.
Take that a step further, and we begin seeing businesses capitalize on the growing trend of UGC by making images of real people using or wearing their products shoppable.
Why Shoppable UGC is the future of eCommerce
A recent DemandGen report revealed that a whopping 91% of buyers prefer visual and interactive content over traditional formats.
Delivering compelling visual content, that consumers not only want to see more of, but are also more likely to engage with, is crucial to eCommerce success. This is why UGC is the next frontier in shoppable content.
In the last couple of decades, consumer interest in sleek, professionally-produced brand content has diminished while the popularity of real and unvarnished content on social media has grown.
Today, people not only consume but also create the content they crave from brands – in fact, a majority of consumers (56%) said that user-generated photos and videos are the content they most want to see from brands.
UGC is the only type of content that can provide the visual social proof online shoppers seek. Consumers can’t physically experience an item before purchasing it online, so the next best thing is authentic visuals that can provide a view into what a product looks like in real-world scenarios.
Given that online shoppers want more interactive experiences, it’s only natural that the most influential content is not picture-perfect product photos, but the realistic user-generated images from genuine customers.
Going Beyond Social Commerce
As more consumers turn toward eCommerce to fulfill their shopping needs, social media platforms are taking advantage of this demand. Social networks are increasingly investing in features that allow for content to be commercialized.
The ability for brands to promote and sell products via social media is called social commerce, and it’s a hugely powerful tool at modern marketers’ disposal.
But it’s only one side of the social shopping coin.
While shoppable social proof has proven to be highly impactful in helping retailers reach shoppers on social networks, the value of user-generated content can (and should) extend far beyond social channels. Extending shoppable content past third-party platforms like social networks, and onto owned channels like homepages, product pages, emails and more, can help marketers create more consistent and engaging omnichannel experiences, which enable people to buy, no matter where they are in their customer journey.
Lush Cosmetics’ Shoppable UGC Experiences
A great example of a brand using shoppable UGC beyond social media is Lush Cosmetics.
Lush featured shoppable UGC from customers on their homepage and product pages, taking visitors directly from visual inspiration to relevant purchasing pages. In one month alone, that section of their homepage had 1 million impressions – a 333% increase from the branded content in their homepage gallery.
What’s more, 2% of visitors took an action on their Stackla-powered UGC after being presented with a “Shop Now” button.
As explained by said Sabine Schwirtz, a former Community Manager at LUSH:
“We’ve found that not only are people creating content about the products they like, but they’re quickly convinced and they’re making purchasing decisions based on other peoples’ UGC.”
The project underlines the power of UGC within the broader eCommerce journey.
At a time when the digital competition has never been greater, injecting shoppable user-generated visuals into every customer touchpoint can help brands break through a noisy market by delivering authentic and actionable content to distracted consumers.
In addition, the sheer abundance of these freely available visuals has the potential to lower content costs, while also solving one of the biggest content challenges plaguing marketers today: producing enough visuals at a fast enough pace to keep up with the demands of modern marketing.
Making UGC the focal point of your shoppable content can help your brand create more meaningful connections with audiences. It brings a greater level of relevance, inclusivity and personalization for people who are seeking out authentic shopping experiences and brings reality online – effectively taking them from the point of inspiration to the point of purchase.
Iran pop singer silenced, but his song remains a protest anthem
Shervin Hajipour’s song “Baraye” draws on the tweets of Iranians longing for a normal life – Copyright Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP)/AFP –
Even though he has been silenced, Iranian pop singer Shirvin Hajipour’s impassioned song in support of protests over Mahsa Amini’s death in custody remains an unofficial anthem of the movement.
The song “Baraye” notched up 40 million views on Instagram before it was deleted when Hajipour was arrested, but he has since been freed on bail and has distanced himself from politics, likely as a condition for his release.
Baraye, the Persian word “For” or “Because”, is composed of tweets about the protests and highlights longings people have for things lacking in sanctions-hit Iran, where many complain of hardship caused by economic mismanagement.
It also draws on everyday activities that have landed people in trouble with the authorities in the Islamic republic.
“For the sake of dancing in the streets; Because of the fear felt while kissing; For my sister, your sister, your sisters,” the song’s lyrics say.
“Because of the embarrassment of an empty pocket; Because we are longing for a normal life… Because of this polluted air.”
Baraye has been heard played loudly at night from apartment blocks in Iran to show support for protests sparked by Amini’s death on September 16, after the notorious morality police arrested her for allegedly breaching rules requiring women to wear hijab headscarves and modest clothes.
It was also sung with gusto by the Iranian diaspora at rallies in more than 150 cities around the world at the weekend.
In one clip shared by the New York-based Center for Human Rights in Iran, a group of schoolgirls without headscarves is seen singing Baraye in class with their backs to the camera.
The tune was removed from Hajipour’s Instagram account shortly after his arrest but is still widely available on other social media platforms, including Twitter and YouTube.
– ‘Because of forced Instagram stories’ –
Hajipour’s lawyer Majid Kaveh said he was released on bail at noon on Tuesday.
The reformist Shargh newspaper said his family had been informed of his arrest in the northern city of Sari on Saturday, in a report that cited his sister Kamand Hajipour.
She had said in an Instagram post that her parents had been informed of his arrest in a call from the city’s intelligence ministry offices.
Shortly after his release, Hajipour was back on Instagram, but this time to apologise and distance himself from politics.
“I’m here to say I’m okay,” he told his 1.9 million followers on the platform.
“But I’m sorry that some particular movements based outside of Iran — which I have had no relations with — made some improper political uses of this song.
“I would not swap this (country) for anywhere else and I will stay for my homeland, my flag, my people, and I will sing.
“I don’t want to be a plaything for those who do not think of me, you or this country,” he added.
In response to his post, many on Twitter suggested the line “Because of forced Instagram stories” should be added to the lyrics of the song.
Human rights groups including Article 19 have repeatedly called on Iran to end its use of forced confessions, which they say are false and extracted under duress or even torture.
In one recent case, a young Iranian woman, Sepideh Rashno, disappeared after becoming involved in a dispute on a Tehran bus with another woman who accused her of removing her headscarf.
She was held by the powerful Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and appeared on television in what activists said was a forced confession before being released on bail in late August.
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