We’re always looking for interesting articles to share. This week I’m filling in for our CMO Lisa Pearson to bring you some of the most sharable we’ve read recently. You can share articles you find interesting with us on Twitter at @Bazaarvoice.

Fans crush brands when it comes to YouTube: Branded content pales in comparison to user-produced fare, per Zefr
by Zach James for VideoWatch

Given the growing power of video’s influence over consumers, YouTube is quickly becoming one of the most influential social sites. And big brands are taking notice. However, videos can be expensive to produce – so how to scale? A new study finds that consumer-made, brand-related videos are more productive than brand-created ones. According to James:

“Of CoverGirl’s 251 million total views on YouTube, 249 million (or 99 percent) are from fan-created videos, according to data compiled by Zefr. We see a similar trend with other leading brands: 92 percent of Oreo’s views and 99 percent of Revlon’s views come from fan content.”

James adds that sometimes the brand’s original video can inspire copies. For example, a Swiffer video of a woman dancing while mopping her floor sparked more than 150 user-created imitations. Encourage consumers to post videos around your brand by promoting them on your branded channels, and consider encouraging them to make their own versions of your original content.

The customer’s voice online
by Jessica Twentyman for The Guardian

Twentyman takes look at the pros (and cons) of customer reviews online. Are they evidence of satisfied customers, or a place for complaining? The fact is that most consumers are relying on the reviews of others when deciding what products to buy or what services to use, so fearing and avoiding reviews as a business is akin to hiding your head in the sand. Embracing them, on the other hand, drives sales, says Twentyman:

“Some retailers believe that customer reviews increase the propensity to buy, luring those who are just browsing into making purchases. At Argos, for example, multi-channel operations manager Jim Bassett says that customers who read reviews show a 50% higher conversion rate than those who don’t.”

Despite the overwhelming statistics proving that customers demand reviews, and that reviews drive sales, there are still some companies that hesitate to include feedback on their websites out of fear of bad reviews. As Twentyman points out, most consumers expect some negative commetns, and products or companies with nothing but glowing reviews could be questioned for their authenticity. Meanwhile negative reviews allow brands to communicate directly with an unsatisfied customer and solve problems, proving that they’re listening both to the original reviewer and to future shoppers.

Love it or leave it—growing power of customer reviews
by Stephanie Landsman for CNBC

As customer reviews have more of an impact than ever before, smart retailers are doing everything they can to gather as many reviews as possible. Best Buy, for example, offers rewards points toward future purchases in exchange for reviews. Don’t confuse this with paying for positive feedback – both good and bad reviews help shoppers buy, and the retailer rewards both equally.

The benefits of reviews go well beyond driving sales, as we often write. Trends in reviews show the best things about products, and the worst – guiding marketing copy and R&D innovation. Oriental Trading Company, known for party supplies and novelties, made changes to more than 700 products in the first eight months of using consumer reviews.

3 Social Media Trends Every Merchant Needs to Know
by Justin Butlion for Business 2 Community

“Your customers are better than you at communicating your brand.”

We all know messages reach a larger audience when shared by person after person than most brands could reach alone. Butlion emphasizes that brands must speak the same language of their consumers, and put out content that will genuinely interest them, to increases the chances that they will share it.

How to speak that language? By getting your customers to talk with you, and learning from them – the words they use, the brand aspects they emphasize and love, their tone. Learn to speak the language of your customers, and you’ll learn what it takes to make them share.