New research has found that while more than two thirds (69%) of internet professionals believe that user generated content helps improve sales, many organisations are not engaging correctly with criticism of their brand online.
The research, conducted by online shopping community ciao.co.uk
at Internet World 2009, found that 14% of those surveyed choose to either moderate or delete online criticism of their organisation or product.
The importance of community engagement, however, was highlighted as a key topic for all respondents, with over half (52%) naming peer recommendation as the most important influence on their customer or end user.
The research also unveiled a number of additional findings on the way businesses interact with their customer community, including:
- 71% believe input from customers on online forums is of benefit to their business
- 73% think peer recommendations are very important to their customer/end user
- 87% consider the rising popularity of consumer review sites a positive development for brands and retailers
- Three quarters respond to online criticism of their product or organisation, but only half do so in a public forum
"Innovative companies, especially retailers, need to have the courage to address their end users' comments directly instead of adopting an instinctively defensive demeanour," says Ciao UK's Tom Hyde. "Our research clearly shows that UGC presents consumers with a wealth of information that helps them make informed purchases. Any criticism should be taken on board and addressed directly to correct misconceptions or to ensure that the product or service is improved accordingly."
Readers can download the full results of the survey from Ciao's website