Since the early days, Bazaarvoice has been the leader in “social” commerce. When Bazaarvoice was founded in 2005, “social” meant something different than it does today. Social media as we know it did not exist. Yet compared to the status quo, ratings and reviews were incredibly social.
Prior to ratings and reviews, most information about products came from in-depth reports published by central authorities like Consumer Reports. This was a one-way broadcast model. A small number of people wrote the reviews which were then consumed by millions of purchasers. The average person was unable to contribute to the conversation in a meaningful way. Ratings and reviews gave the average person a channel for their voice to be heard in the marketplace and to influence others.
At the same time, a similar shift was happening in publishing. In 2004, just a year before Bazaarvoice was founded, blogging went mainstream, giving the average person the ability to share their opinions with a broader audience.
The blog was considered “social” publishing, compared with the status quo of one-way broadcast newspapers and magazines, blogs enabled everyday people from around the world to easily share and connect in ways that were not possible before. While blogs were a major step forward, the majority of people did not participate. They may have read blog posts, but most people were not regularly writing them.
Social media brought about the next major shift. Today a majority of people do contribute: sharing opinions, ideas, thoughts, and pieces of their lives via social networks like Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.
So, in publishing we’ve seen this evolution from broadcast mediums (a few voices) to blogging (what we might call Social 1.0) to today’s world of social channels that’s increasingly empowering more people to participate.
I believe the same evolution is happening in product reviews. We’re seeing more participation. It is incredible how many brands and products are mentioned every minute and with that we’re seeing a migration from longer-form communication vehicles to more bite-sized social sharing.
Now there are two things to note here:
1. This does not mean social is replacing reviews. Blogs did not go away when Twitter launched, they are thriving more today than ever. Like blogs, reviews provide a place for more committed, dedicated contributors to share in-depth ideas and feedback.
2. This shift is not necessarily good or bad. Social posts have less depth than reviews, but they are often more emotive and more visual, connecting with people in a different way
The best way to look at this is that we have a new way to capture the voice of customer. Social posts are the perfect complement to ratings and reviews; they are often less technical and more emotive, less specific and more conversational.
Just as Bazaarvoice provided the innovation that changed the face of online shopping nine years ago with Ratings and Reviews, we are leading the charge today to usher in social sharing as part of the shopping experience with Bazaarvoice Curations. The voice of the customer has never been stronger.