NEWS29 May 2009

Web 2.0 a ‘post-recession brand saviour’


UK— Brands that exploit the world of user-generated content could fare better coming out of the recession than those whose relationships with consumers remain purely transactional, according to a new report from Experian.

Citing Hitwise data, Experian says that UGC websites drew in 138 per cent more visitors than transactional websites in March 2009. It also claims that brands that have incorporated UGC and social networking elements into their sites are experiencing increased web traffic and conversion rates.

The research shows that 40 per cent of consumers now believe “that most companies are not fair to consumers.” Experian believes that UGC sites will thrive in this environment, as users seek the recommendations and opinions of others before making a purchase decision, rather than relying on the claims of advertisers.

However, Robin Goad, research director at report contributor Hitwise, sounded a note of warning to firms eager to jump on the UGC bandwagon: “Companies must be aware that, while customers are willing to participate and comment online, they don't always do so within the defined limits.

“Vocal customers can be advocates, but they can also be detractors, often more willing to share bad experiences than good ones. The big challenge for brands in the post-recession environment will be to encourage delighted customers and advocates to make themselves heard by providing the right forums and rewards.”