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Growth in social media as consumers seek out digital opinions

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More shoppers wanted to assess other people’s opinions of potential purchases in the run up to this Christmas, new figures suggest.

Ratings and reviews specialist Bazaarvoice analysed user-generated content from across its clients in more than 120 countries for its latest Quarterly Conversation Index. It found that on Cyber Monday 2011, almost 789m impressions of user-generated content were served up to online browsers. That’s 42% more than on the same day in 2010. On Black Friday consumers viewed almost 730m impressions, 39% more than 2010.

Brett Hurt, founder and chief executive of Bazaarvoice, said that for the first time, word of mouth had become a digital asset. “A new understanding of age-old human practices will continue to rapidly form,” he said, adding: “We are hardwired to share opinions, recommendations, and input with each other. Now social gives consumers a direct link to the brands they are talking about. There is a huge responsibility that comes with this always-on, direct and authentic input, and a tremendous opportunity for brands to take actions on what consumers really need and want. “

Erin Mulligan Nelson, chief marketing officer of Bazaarvoice, said: “Social data comes fast and furious, and the brands who can turn this data into doing will gain a big advantage in the year ahead. Brands need to make sure that they are prepared to capture, analyse and, most importantly, act on these insights to catapult beyond loyalty to real advocacy.”

The research, which also looked at 5.8m pieces of data in the third quarter of 2011, from April to September, also found that almost half of customer reviews citing postage problems were one-star reviews. That is 80% lower than the average star rating for products overall.

Meanwhile, it calculated that transaction income from mobile devices tripled this year, rising to 6% in 2011 from the same period in 2010. On Black Friday 2011, mobile visitors to Bazaarvoice client sites rose to 12% from 5% in 2010.

But over the Christmas 2011 period, iPads accounted for 40% of mobile visits, more than those from iPhones (30%) and Android smartphones (25%).

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