As Social Commerce evolves, so do the roles and skill sets needed to drive it. 

This transformation is fast reshaping the landscape of fashion & beauty marketing.

Collaboration between social and eCommerce teams, and sharing technologies to utilize, is crucial for crafting a seamless and connected customer journey; one rich with remarkable experiences. 

The emergence of more specialized roles within Social Commerce, and teams entirely dedicated to it, are a significant symbol of this shift. Social Media Managers and their wider teams are increasingly held accountable to sales goals. Research shows this trend will only intensify, making it essential for marketers to adapt swiftly.

In this episode, Paul is joined by Doug Foulkes (Social & Creator SME, Team Lead @ Bazaarvoice) LIVE from the stage of the Social Commerce Summit: New York. Together, they piece together a playbook for navigating this fast-approaching future.

Listen up to learn about…

  • Demonstrating the Business Value of Content: Social Media teams need access to accurate, impactful data and the keen analytical skills to translate these insights into proof of tangible value. Social content can, and should, live far beyond the realms of social to influence customer purchasing decisions. The further into the right analytics you lean, the faster you prove worth. The faster you prove worth, the faster your budgets can expand.
  • Opportunities for AI in Brand Safety: The potential impact of AI on content creation and brand safety is a hot topic. While there’s concern, there’s opportunity for helpful innovation here, too. AI is helping streamline creative processes in marketing, but it could also be used in influencer & Advocate approval. Take a peek into the not-far-off future.
  • Utilizing User-Generated Content Effectively: Doug’s research has found fresh user-generated content (UGC) can make all the difference. 74% of consumers say it’s a prerequisite for them to see social proof on product pages, to help them make up their mind before buying. Of this on-page social content, recent UGC works 4x better for sustaining high conversion rates. Find out why. Learn how to optimize. 

This episode is presented by Bazaarvoice – a MarTech solution making magic for thousands of brands & retailers, growing sales through authentic social content on their websites. 

Find out more about these good folk here: 

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Building Brand Advocacy 067: 


The Playbook for Merging Social & eCommerce Marketing to Increase Conversion ft. Doug Foulkes

Paul: We have Doug Foulkes, who's going to be talking about aligning social and eCommerce marketing to convert shoppers. Now, Bazaarvoice are one of the largest, probably, martech companies in the world – which means that you guys have this sort of holistic view of a lot of brands, and that's what we're trying to do. 

So we've gone really, really deep on various different areas here about going to people who are working in brands, and actually what we're going to try and do is elevate it up. To start to look at a few more holistic things to try and pick out some of the trends that you can kind of learn that, you know, hopefully it's not just you that's doing certain things and we can align and see where things are going in that direction with it. 

So Doug, can you please take the stage?

So Doug, do you want to give us a little bit of an intro, who you are and what you do before we get stuck in? 

Doug: Yeah, definitely. So I work at Bazaarvoice as the Sales Director for Social Commerce and creators. I work mostly with enterprise brands and have been in the space for about eight years now, working with social teams, eCommerce teams and kind of bringing them together, right, to make magic and grow sales from social content.

Paul: So kind of talking of, we touched on that earlier about this whole idea of teams sort of evolving, different roles changing as our performance and brands start merging. Like what sort of specialized roles are you starting to see emerging with the teams when you're talking to quite a lot of them on a day-to-day basis? 

And what are the trends of job titles that weren't there previously that are now popping up on Zoom calls day in, day out that you've never seen before. 

Doug: Yeah, so in terms of skill sets, those that are adept at understanding and creating or going out and getting content created, that's optimized for conversion. And we're seeing new roles come in like; just last week, I met with someone that was the Director of Social Commerce and we have a guest here that has that title too. And it's really interesting to see that where, you know, they're – you know, more and more held towards sales goals. 

Because I talk with social media managers, day in and day out, for eight years and key performance indicators. Like anytime I would ask them, are you held to sales goals? Most of the time the answer is no, right? Earlier on it was, you know, we want to increase engagement. We want to increase our followership that then translated or evolved to, we need to increase leads and traffic to site. And now it's moving over to, yeah, we actually need to grow sales from our social content and we're being held accountable to that more and more now. 

Paul: And like other new skills that brands are trying to actively incorporate that you're seeing? 

Doug: Well, data insights and analytics is something that's going to be really important because if you understand what kind of content converts and you can actually point to what type of strategies are performing well, not just from a top of the funnel standpoint, but from a leads standpoint and pointing to – okay, this overall content trend translated to X increase in AOV on our site or higher conversion rates or more time spent on site. You know, it gives social teams a more important seat at the table and access to new budgets to do more cool stuff. 

So, having skill sets that can help translate the business value of like, here's how much money I'm printing for the business, right? When I invest with X, Y, and Z creators. Or when we go out on a photo shoot, those are usually more expensive. It converted in this way. So they know really where to put that budget and also have the ammo to ask for it.

Paul: To beComme value-driven like that, or data-driven to be value-driven, I guess, often it's a culture shift. How have you seen organizations taking that on board? 

Doug: Yeah, so one thing I would love for everyone to take away from today, we've done exercises where we're meeting new people, right? A lot of times when I speak to social teams, I'm like how often do you work with your eCommerce teams? And sometimes they've never met, depends on the size of the organization. Smaller companies, everyone's working together. Larger ones, sometimes they don't talk to each other. 

So what I would love for everyone to get out of this today is to like slack your colleagues on e-comm and be like, how can we like work better together? Right? And it's not just team silos that need to be taken down. There's also like tech silos because they're using different tools that have different sort of data points and directions and that's also a barrier to collaboration and fostering innovation. 

So like encourage that culturally is really, really important to be innovative, right? And there are really great brands doing that today, like Fenty Beauty, for example, or Charlotte Tilbury does an incredible job of like breaking barriers and doing new stuff with social content and translating it to more places beyond social media. 

Paul: When you're looking at that from a utilization across, are you talking about using different tech across businesses as well? Because there's what we talked about 9 ,000 different providers, like the same provider being used across them. Or are we talking about just really getting down to it? Just be like, what are your KPIs? What are my KPIs? How can I help you? 

Doug: Yeah, it's a combination of the two. It's really crazy. I mean, speaking to how many providers are out there, how much of that turns into shelf wear, right? Where you just end up buying stuff but never using it to the fullest extent, right? 

So it's not just about aligning internally like, okay, how can we help each other from a strategy standpoint, but it's also finding partners that have technology that translates to more than just one team. And how does like, integrating that kind of actually change the experience to customer at the end of the day? Yeah, so, you know, the sales funnel has has truly flattened at this point. Like it's easy to buy something; I mean, ideally, from any point in the buyer's journey like whether you're in social or on site it or ads email wherever right it's all much more seamless today. I'm able to, you know, scan my face right to pay today, right? It's so easy to part with your money. 

But the reality is when we look at shopper behavior, we find that 69% – we do like these extensive shopper surveys across brands, retailers, and customers that buy from them globally – and what we found was that 69% of consumers responded to being inspired by social to buy a product, but they ended up making that purchase through another channel, which means they're going more often than not to eCommme to buy or to the retailer to buy after being inspired by social. So it really underscores the importance of having social content not be siloed just in social media, but omni-channel, right? And repurposing it across ads, email, your site, certainly one of the most important, even in store, right? Where you're truly creating that sort of, connected experience where the content is following the customer everywhere they go or anywhere they might end up making a purchase. 

Paul: Yeah, I mean, we've been talking about the old becoming new quite a few times here and it seems that that whole idea of like 50% of marketing works. Problem is no one knows which 50% you know, let's talk about out of home and things you can't attribute, you can't track. 

Doug: But even, you know, we've talked a lot about this. Just now on the flight over here, there was, a big pile in the bookshop in the airport that said TikTok made me buy it and it was all these books. And there's no way we're going to attribute those videos that were created by creators talking about their favorite books that then got bought in the airline, but it was. It's like becoming a crossover here as it becomes like a normal part of that flow. 

Paul: So like, do you think that these budgets are ‘brand budgets’? You know, you just put a big thing into a bucket into brand. It's like, go and spend this money. We are going to hope most of this sort of lands. We can't track it, but that's okay. Cause we're going to like lean into that. Or actually do you think people should be and even can measure a lot of what has been happening? 

Doug: It should be getting more into that performance bucket. Yeah. So by translating social content to more places, it gets you access to more budget from different teams. Like eComm traditionally has larger budgets than social. So It's a good place to go if you're looking to do something cool and social, if there is benefit for eComm. 

And when we think about like, what online shop- online buying rather is truly optimized for and eCommerce is truly optimized for today, it's two types of buying behaviors. It's optimized really well for searching for products we already know we want to buy and the transaction. As I mentioned, it's easy, you know, scan your face, you pay, you're on your way. What it's poorly optimized for is shopping. It's probably why Gen Z loves to shop, but I think we all do, but they go into brick and mortar stores. You could actually shop. You can discover things and add things to your basket that you didn't intend to buy when you walked into the store in the first place.

On eComm, it's kind of like a digital replica of catalogs that were dropped off on our doorstep back in the day, where I still get them, but just L-O-B-N. Mostly. Which I buy from sometimes. But, you know, it's all like stock shots against the white background and products siloed in category pages and, you know, that's not that inspiring unless you already know what you want to buy and you're kind of B-lining to that category or that specific product you already made up your mind about. 

Social content has the opportunity, if it's translated to more places in a shoppable manner, to create those entry points for shopping, to build the basket or build confidence. 

Size and fit confidence was talked about earlier in the Abercrombie and Fitch dialogue, right? So that's really, really important to show like diversity in terms of your customers and how they're enjoying and using the product. So you can see someone that resembles what you look like or the lifestyle you ascribe to to feel confidence that, okay, I'm gonna enjoy this product too. And we trust that kind of content over brand content. 

Paul: And how much do you think is like a gender balance or difference in this? So we sort of have talked before about actually it's quite hard to sell fashion to a male demographics through social, generally because there is a larger female demographic following creators whose content is solely about fashion or about beauty in that sort of area, which is why in this room, talk about Social Commerce and the brands that are the most advanced in this space tend to be women's fashion brands and beauty brands in that area. 

But there is like another area of passion which seems to be doing really well in terms of supplements and health and fitness and areas there, which has a different kind of skew in terms of where that goes. Do you think, and – I don't know if Bazaarvoice has any data across this, in terms of actually how different brands with different target demographics should be selling and should be using user-generated content? 

Doug: Yeah, I mean, it's definitely harder to get user-generated content from men versus women, typically. Having sort of a diverse mix of content and strategies for getting that content is important. So making sure if that content isn't already organically being created that you're actively seeking out and partnering with on-brand, brand-safe creators and influencers that speak to those target demographics, those male demographics to create content on your behalf. 

And that can also translate to behavior shifts for everyday customers that buy that if they see greater content being displayed and there's an opportunity or call to action to create content from that, that can get more customers to join in and then you can intermix creator and influencer and everyday user-generated content in the same space and they all kind of blend together nicely. 

Paul: What do you mean by brand-safe? 

Doug: Brand-safe like the creator is creating content that's aligned with the brand strategy, making sure that that particular creator or influencer wasn't like previously posting something that might have been problematic or was like, I don't know, you could go back like, okay, were they at Jan sixth or something like that? 

You wanna make sure you're repurposing content from like, folks that are going to be brand-safe in terms of like their overall presence and also the kind of content that they create is in line with the brand aesthetic. And like that can be quite a big daunting task to go through everyone's history to see if they said something that's intimidating. It's a huge problem. Particularly if you've got a brand which has got like a thousand skews or more, or 5,000 skews, and you want to have content that's associated for every single product, and you want to use that and you're retargeting it. 

Paul: How are brands able to manage that workload? Isn't it easier just to get one person – pay a model – just to create that content on the other side of it? 

Doug: Yeah, well. That kind of content isn't typically seen as authentic and it does take a lot of time and work. There are advances being made like AI is really exciting and interesting. Think of it as like not a market, it's not a strategy, it's a tool, right? And that's helping partners find content much more readily and sort of like automating and driving more efficiency in terms of like what's manual, like we hear all the time searching for the right creators or influencers is a super manual process a lot of the time, getting the rights to use that content is a manual process a lot of the time. And creating the right messaging when we outreach to rights requests on content is manual and takes a lot of time. 

So like tools and particularly AI is helping streamline those processes and giving time back to the marketers. 

Paul: So I'm interested in this because, would anyone here trust an AI to scan the creators to make sure their brand's safe? A show of hands… No way would we trust the AI. Put your hands up. And show of hands if you would trust an AI to tell if they’re brand-safe? Not on-brand, but brand-safe. Okay, cool. We got a majority of hands for brand safety there.

I mean, it's really like the technology exists. Here, I want everyone to be you know, they can't be a crazy racist and they also have to be into, you know, beauty, like, or makeup. And then you can easily scan the last, however many pieces of content to do that. So maybe that's about a half, huge amount of workload that everyone's got when they're working with creators. 

Doug: Yeah. I mean, look, AI is like, it's not; it's not like you press a button and then it's on autopilot, right? You always need a person to, you know, approve at the end of the day. I kind of like to think of it as like, if you're in a Tesla and you put on the autopilot, you're not going to go to sleep on the highway, you know? Kind of helps you automate it a little bit, but you never want to be asleep behind the wheel. 

Paul: I'm quite excited about a future where I can go to sleep on the way. 

Doug: Yeah, me too. 

Paul: You just be like, take me home. What else are you seeing on the horizon in terms of how AI is going to influence our jobs as brand builders? Like with Jess's presentation earlier, blew quite a few people's minds by all accounts. Where are you seeing it?

Doug: Yeah, it's going to help with; I think certainly messaging like copies, particularly when it comes to getting. So a lot of folks that want to use user-generated content are sometimes concerned. Am I going to get enough people responding back like, yes, we can use this? So AI is helping, for example, take cues from specific posts and in their caption and create custom messaging that seems like super like relevant and like a person actually wrote something thoughtful as opposed to we love this, you know, hashtag yes, agree if, you know, we can use it.

That's not gonna get as many responses as ‘thanks for this thoughtful post you made on X, Y, and Z. We love how you did it this way’. AI is helping write those things today.

Paul: It's amazing. So I'm quite interested about it. I've been playing around with chatbots. I think we were talking to someone earlier about it. We've just created a chatbot, just in ChatGPT, that would back and forth with customers and Advocates and just build a relationship with them to say, wait, do you want to post about us? Like, what are you going to post? I like that picture. What else can you do with it?

And actually the experience that they get, the AI, like there was this one point when the AI was trained on a fake brand and like we ramped up its creativity and said, you know, go wild there and it asked you a question that said, no, actually I don't want to do that. And it reacted with like, ‘oh my glitter’. Like, he's like really building out this personality that is just like communicating with a store associate or something like that. 

So like, I can see that time when you go on a website and that inspirational point is just going to be… going to blow your mind because you're like, I'm searching for, I really need an outfit to wear a conference in New York. Or whatever it is that you want to do it. And then it's gonna be like, okay, cool. You thought about this? No, I don't want to do that. How about that? Like really having that back and forth when you start doing it. And then that can also live in other areas. That can live in Instagram messaging. I know they're investing heavily. 

Broghan's still here with TikTok, I don’t know if they have the same functionality or not. But yeah, you can start seeing where that kind of starts to evolve in that sense.

Do you think it's gonna take our jobs? 

Doug: No, not yet. 

Paul: It's gonna take some of our jobs?

Doug: Maybe it's going to change our jobs. 

Paul: Cool. All right. And make us more efficient so we can do the next thing that we don't have time for today. 

Doug: Yeah. Yeah. That kind of creativity bit kind of cracked up there. 

Paul: Okay, cool. So in terms of like content, we've talked about UGC a lot and utilization of it. Is there ever too much content for a brand? Will brands start figuring out how to utilize a limitless amount of UGC? Or do you think that there is a lead, you're like, I actually only need three images per skew and now I've kind of reached my capacity? 

Doug: Yeah, great question. So we have found that you can never have too much content because recency is so important and it's directly correlated to sustained high conversion rates. 

So when you think about any type of UGC, whether it's, and I like to kind of compartmentalize, right, because at Bazaarvoice, we’re kind of known for ratings and reviews, historically and now we're sort of this much wider organization dealing in both logical decision making UGC, which I kind of classify as ratings and reviews, and emotional decision making UGC, which I classify in more so like the social proof bucket. 

The more recent content you have there, it keeps product pages or your site overall, depending on where you're displaying it, fresh and modern and current. And you know, having the same content in the same place forever, you get fatigue from that eventually, right?

So we actually found with a large retailer that we work with, where we looked at brands that had fresh recent content over a period of time on their product pages, saw a 4X lifting conversion rate compared to brands or the retailers that had stale older content.

So keeping that content fresh and recent is really, really important for high sustained conversion rates. 

Paul: Which are like time recent or like fresh to the user? Because if I see something that's a year old, but I've never seen it before, it's still fresh. Or do you mean it has to be constantly fresh? 

Doug: Yeah, good question. I mean, if you're constantly keeping it fresh, you're kind of accomplishing both because someone that's never seen the previous before and is coming to the SKU as a new user is still seeing fresh content, and the person that maybe is considering buying it again, or went to it and then left it and is coming back to it again – you're getting kind of both as long as you're keeping the content recent. 

Paul: Okay, yeah, that makes a lot of sense. And so when you're looking at this flood of content as it starts arriving in, which brands are killing it? Which brand is, we talked about social-first, that mindset which I love there, but like, what is the most UGC-first brand? Apart from Shein, because we don't like to talk about it, do we? 

Doug: Yeah, it's like choosing between my children. We work with so many that execute so well. Immediately coming to mind is Overtone. Overtone today has more user-generated content throughout their sort of digital marketing funnel compared to brand content. So they're doing a great job not only of having that really great balance and sort of that content of that user-generated content outweigh brand content, right? But they're also translating it to more places than just social. 

So a creator's post will follow a consumer from social to ad to email to product page. So it's a really nice bookend experience. So if you're looking for an example of someone that's doing it well, check out their social presence, check out their website. 

Paul: Amazing. that's fantastic. Right, so I think we're drawing things down now. Is there anything else you'd like to add? Anything that you'd recommend people check out? 

Doug: Well, yeah. I mean, look, if you're, you know, one, I would check out, we got a little QR code on the back. We're going to do a little questions, if there's time, the audience. But little QR code on the back if you guys want to grab some coffee with Bazaarvoice and kind of chat through what we talked about more in a tailored fashion. I think there's enough there, 15 bucks, enough for maybe like a scone and a cappuccino. 

Paul: Nice. If you're in New York. Probably if you're somewhere else, you might stretch it into two cups of coffee.

Great. Okay, cool. So first question up. So you've got a few flyers. You can hold up the colours. So do you believe that shopping shoppers rely on UGC more or less in the current economic climate? 

Pink is A, more. B is less, blue. And C is green. No change. I'm seeing a lot of pink. A lot of pinks. A lot of pinks. One or two greens. Nice. 

Okay, cool. Right. There we are. Good answer that one. There you are.

Yeah, they're out of shoppers rely on UGC more in the current economic climate? 

Doug: Yeah, so one of the trends we're seeing is that like shoppers today, they're looking for value for their money and they turn to UGC to give them that assurance, right? And when we look at sort of the same shopper index basically where, you know, we saw that, you know, 69% of consumers, they said they got inspired by social, but they ended up buying from another channel. 

In that same survey, 74 % of consumers said that it was a prerequisite for them to see social content, social proof on the product page to help them make up their mind before buying. And I experienced this recently. I was looking for like this cool mid-century clock by a designer named George Nelson. And I went to Design Within Reach and I really wasn't about spending $500 on a clock. So I went to a few other places to find a replica. 

And where I ultimately bought from was something that showed me how it physically looked in the room from user-generated content, because they came in different sizes and I didn't want to buy something too small or too large. So that's what helped build my confidence to buy it. So that's what we're ultimately looking for to kind of help us pull the trigger and buy.

Paul: Okay, great. We've got time for one more quick question then. So for passive creators, how many are willing to share their social content if asked? 20%, 40% or 60%?

What is a passive creator? 

Doug: So passive creator is basically like you, me, well, maybe you probably have a lot more followers than I do, but it's like regular folks, right? Everyday customers. How readily are they willing to kind of say yes and let you use their content to make money off of it, basically.

Paul: Massive spread. 

Doug: Yeah. Right. Massive spread. 

Paul: And the answer is C, 60%. Amazing. Cool. All right. Well, there we go. So Doug, thank you very much for that. 

Doug: Thank you. 

Paul: Doug, folks, reach out to him. If you guys want to talk and if you want to check out Bazaarvoice, please do. Let them know you came from Social Commerce so they can continue to give us lots of money so we can put on conferences and fancy hotels.

Doug: Our pleasure. 

Paul: So at the end of the day, that's it!

Doug: That was amazing. Thank you so much.