With the ever-rising popularity of social advertising through word-of-mouth (or WOM), branded content, and native marketing, many online marketers were surprised that the best online advertising tactic might be expert-generated content. Expert-generated content is any type of content generated by an expert in their respective field of study. The content could be generated completely independent of any paying company, or an expert may be compensated for their expertise. Studies show that people actually trust the experts more than their social media comrades when it comes to making purchasing decisions.
A Nielsen study commissioned by InPowered, a branding company that helps companies promote their press coverage, shows the validity of expert content. In the study, subjects were asked to share how customer-reviews found on websites like Amazon, third-party articles and expert reviews, and branded content affected their perceptions of nine different products. The collected data provided researchers the tools to compare the effectiveness of three different types of advertising: native marketing, branded content, and expert content.
The surveys revealed that expert content performed 50% better than user reviews and a staggering 88% better than branded content for familiarizing consumers with the product. Admittedly, consumers are utilizing and responding to consumer reviews and online advertising significantly more than they did five years ago. Expert-generated content elicited a 38% increase in the likelihood of purchasing over branded content and an 83% increase over user-generated reviews.
This being said, expert reviews are not the be-all and end-all for marketing every type of product. Depending on the product or service, certain means of advertising may be more effective than others. In the technical world, for example, expert reviews are held in high regard because the product is complex and the layman does not likely understand the intricacies of the product. But, when someone is looking for a new video game to play, they will trust the opinion of their peers over any branded content, because in this case, their peers are the experts.
So which method of advertising is best for what product? The survey says…
Native marketing is a paid form of advertising that looks like consumer generated content. It provides companies the ability to represent themselves to the consumers in a way that the consumers are familiar with, appearing “incognito” as an everyday consumer. Critics of native marketing feel as though company-generated user-review content has the potential to harm the host publisher’s credibility by confusing readers with editorial content. Despite the criticism, user-generated reviews evoked the highest positive lift in consumers with video games, car seats, and dryers. The positive lift relates to the consumer’s perceived value of the product after reading user reviews. Video games in particular had the highest rating, with 20% lift in purchase behaviors and 28% lift in affinity relating to user reviews. User reviews ranked the lowest in perceived lift for auto insurance, with 0% familiarity, 1% affinity, and 2% purchase.
Branded content includes, but is not limited to, product placement and viral videos that may feature a particular product (even if the consumer is unaware that it is an ad for the product). Branded content is the most successful method of advertising when it comes to purchasing decisions for cameras, with 12% lift; the highest in affinity for dryers, with 12% lift; and the highest in familiarity for electric toothbrushes, with an 11% lift. Lesson to be learned: big brands that are well known and easily recognizable stand to see the best results from branded content.
Expert content is generated by third-party participants who are seen as authority figures in their applicable fields. The study showed that expert content helps lift consumers’ opinions of products across the board. The product that showed the highest positive lift in consumer perception was smartphones, with 22% lift in familiarity, 13% lift in affinity, and 16% lift in purchasing. Additionally, smart TVs had the highest rating for familiarity, with 8% lift, while user reviews and branded content showed 1% and 0%, respectively.
When considering what form of social media marketing is best suited to a particular product or service, it is important to consider how consumers perceive the product, and how they are most likely to have their perceptions changed. Well-known brands with easily recognizable logos are going to have the most success utilizing branded content as their method of online marketing. If a game developer wants to market their next video game, they would have the best success with native marketing, going “undercover” to represent their up-and-coming videogame. Finally, tech companies are best off exploiting expert reviews to their advantage by creating links to expert-generated content highlighting the benefits of the tech company’s product or service. All things considered, expert-generated content is a successful method of increasing consumer perception across the board. So if in doubt, get an expert!