I was talking to a group of people at a Digital Marketing Summit a few weeks ago about social media and integrated digital marketing. My main points in the presentation were to highlight 1) the struggle companies continue to have with social media, 2) how social media has penetrated the entire shopping funnel, and 3) how user-generated content, facilitated by social media, is creeping into the e-commerce experience – especially on the product detail page.

It wasn’t long ago that a product detail page consisted of a picture of the product and a few bullet points describing some technical specifications. Consumers were supposed to make buying decisions based on this level of information.

But social media has changed how consumers are making buying decisions. Consumers are being influenced by what other people are saying about products more than what companies’ are saying about their products.

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We saw this manifested most directly in e-commerce with the inclusion of ratings and reviews on product pages. Conversion rates for products with reviews increased. And we saw that bad reviews were helpful. They lent legitimacy to the reviews overall.

  • 63 percent of customers are more likely to make a purchase from a site which has user reviews. iPerceptions, 2011
  • Reviews produce an average 18-percent uplift in sales. Reevoo

But with the rise of social media platforms, product conversations are taking place outside a company’s website, and control. Like ratings and reviews, companies are seeing that these conversations, when integrated into the e-commerce experience, can have a dramatic impact on conversion rates. These conversations lend third-party credibility to the products and are influencing the sale.

When you dissect a product detail page today, you can see how many places social has infiltrated the page.

  • Consumers can share an image of a product on Facebook or Pinterest and see the number of shares of that product on the page.
  • Consumers can read reviews of the products from other buyers.
  • Consumers can see the overall satisfaction ratings of a product based on other users’ feedback.

And now companies are starting to leverage third-party social content within the product detail page. Companies like ModCloth are curating images from Instagram and using them as alternative product images on the page (see the photo above). Shoppers can see how the product looks on other people and other body types, and explore ideas on how to complete the outfit. The reviews allow users to upload images of themselves in the product. ModCloth is leveraging its community of fans to sell the product for them within the product page.

Giggle is taking UGC within the shopping experience even further. The company has created a community of passionate parents willing to share images of their kids and Giggle products. Giggle is using this content across all its marketing assets – email, social media, display banners, and print. The company is including it throughout the website experience – on the home page, category pages, product listing pages, and finally on the product detail page. Giggle understands the power of its fans’ voices and is inviting them to participate in the sales process.

Social media has changed the way consumers make buying decisions. Consumers are taking control of the conversation. Leveraging their voices within the shopping experience is proving to be a profitable partnership.

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