Customer reviews about your brand aren't that scary. What's scary is not being involved in the conversation.
I've heard it a thousand times - companies are afraid to add user-generated content to their sites. They're afraid people will say negative things, that writers will go off-topic, or that, somehow, letting people contribute will hurt sales.
But there's a big difference between "anyone can say anything on a site" and your "voice of the customer." For example, anyone can say anything - no matter how profane, untrue, or damaging - on Facebook, Twitter, or YouTube. If your brand is referenced there, you have no control over what is said.
In the past five years, we've seen hundreds of brands overcome their fears of user-generated content. If you - or your management team - still fears user-generated content, here are some key principles to remember.
So, where's the real proof that your brand shouldn't fear user-generated content? The fact that financial services firms (one of the most highly-regulated industries) embrace the voice of the customer. Shawn Morton, director of mobile, social, and emerging media at Nationwide Insurance, gives his key to persuading management to add user-generated content to their site: "Tie it to clear business objectives," he says. It isn't enough to say something is a "fun, new trend." Make the business case the old-fashioned way, just as you would for any other investment. Demonstrate the value behind social in numbers; show how reviews impact decisions. From there it's easy to gain the executive advocates you need to make a case for social across your organization.
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Sam Decker is founder and CEO of Mass Relevance, the leading enterprise social curation company. He speaks and consults on digital growth strategy, based on years of experience in technology and social markets. He has written two books on word-of-mouth marketing and is an award-winning blogger (www.deckermarketing.com). As former chief marketing officer of Bazaarvoice, the market leader in hosted social commerce applications that drive sales, Sam worked to help brands present the right user-generated content at the right time in the purchase path, bringing real value to the consumer and the business. Prior to Bazaarvoice he drove Dell's customer segmentation, their customer-centricity strategy, and led Dell's consumer website, building Dell.com into the largest consumer e-commerce site at $3.5 billion in annual sales.
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