Joanna Robb, Multichannel Development Manager at B&Q, shared a colleague’s analogy about brands in social media during our webinar last week: “You never want to be your dad dancing,” she said. “You never want to forget what your brand is about.”

Keeping their brand in mind is just one way our client B&Q has had success in social commerce. The company is the leading home improvement and garden center retailer in Europe, and the third largest in the world. In the webinar, co-hosted by Bazaarvoice and our partners at ATG, Joanna shared how the retailer is using social to build a community around do-it-yourself home improvement on their ecommerce site diy.com.

Bill Zujewski, VP of Product Marketing at ATG, explained the ways “how we buy” has changed. Social media and customer reviews have made it easier than ever for customers to find the information they need – opinions of friends, family, and other customers online. Couple those tools with increasingly ubiquitous internet (smart phones, netbooks, WiFi, 3G/4G) and always-on communication (texting, instant messaging, Facebook, Twitter), and customers today never have to shop alone, says Bill.

According to Joanna, 21% of home improvement products don’t get started due to lack of motivation or confidence. B&Q has the expertise to give people the confidence they need to get started, and their customer base is full of do-it-yourself-ers ranging from beginner to expert. Recognizing the selling potential in their employees’ and customers’ shared expertise, B&Q has used user-generated content (UGC) to gather these collective home improvement experiences into one expert resource at diy.com. Here’s how they did it, and what they’re doing next.

Start the dialogue. B&Q launched customer reviews, question and answer, and stories on their ecommerce site, and established an internal team to manage their UGC. The retailer uses post-purchase emails to solicit review content.

Open it up. Since launching UGC, B&Q created their Social Hub, which gathers all reviews, questions, answers and stories into one collaborative community. They also launched the Answerzone, a collection of all customer Q&A from product and category pages in a central, searchable site. Since launching Answerzone, answer rate has increased 40%, and 70% of customer questions now have answers. They’ve also launched a Twitter account to promote various deals and communicate with followers – over 1,300 customers are following the retailer already.

Capitalize on the conversation. In addition to increasing customer engagement with B&Q and solidifying the retailer as an expert in home improvement, UGC is driving real bottom-line results. B&Q has begun featuring reviews content and star ratings in display ads. They see ads with products rated four stars or higher converting three times higher than ads without reviews. Additionally, the company now uses compelling content from customer stories in their PR campaigns.

What’s next for B&Q? Joanna says the company plans to grow Social Hub, as well as expand into Facebook and YouTube, drawing from their current learnings with UGC – keep it simple, remember the customer, and never forget why you’re here.

This post is just a brief glance at what B&Q is doing with social commerce. For more from Joanna Robb at B&Q, Bill Zujewski at ATG, and our own CMO Sam Decker, you can download the full webinar for free here.

Download the free webinar: Social Commerce DIY: How B&Q uses customers to build their business.