We’re navigating into some unchartered territory for us and it’s a little scary, but really exciting too. We’re in the planning stages for adding user-generated product reviews (ratings and rankings) on one of our product websites. We’re excited because it gives us a chance to have a more transparent feedback mechanism for us—and more important, for our customers and site visitors. And we know that it’ll help us in our customer service and product offerings because we can get some real-time review information.
A 2009 report by eMarketer finds “...by 2013, 155 million of US Internet users will consume some form of user-created content, up from 116 million in 2008. The number of user-generated content creators will grow by similar proportions, reaching 115 million in 2013, up from 83 million in 2008.” So it’s clear, that this type of content is a good, strong step for us in creating an open dialogue with our customers. And, as an additional positive for us, user-generated product reviews are being recognized as a powerful tool in converting browsers into buyers. A lot of the chatter and research shows that many users care more deeply about content they generate themselves—or that someone relatively similar to them have generated—than they do about the stuff that comes from the pros or company. And so having this type of content on our site will translate into deeper levels of engagement.
So what’s the problem? Truthfully, it’s just a little scary to let go of control of “your” content. We’ve seen this to a degree already with our active community and Twitter followers and such, but to place it front and center next to our product information…well, we have to place trust in the process.
And we are. We’re doing that by creating a plan that will help us monitor reviews and as themes emerge from content, we’ll react swiftly and accordingly, responding directly to the posters. We also trust that people will post respectfully and constructively with the goal of truly helping others to know how the products have affected their businesses and lives.
So wish us luck … and good follow-up processes too. And if you have any experiences (good, bad, or ugly) about releasing control of your own content on your sites to your visitors, let’s hear it!