With over 80 million photos uploaded to Instagram daily and 6,000 tweets sent every second, it’ll come as no surprise to anyone, that there’s an avalanche of content published and shared online. However, brands have largely failed to fully utilise and exploit this content in their marketing efforts, with many marketers prioritising investment in creating content, over curating social content that already exists.

However, with brands finding that producing content is prohibitively expensive and lacks the authenticity that consumers are looking for, we’re starting to see brands rethink their content marketing strategies and place a greater emphasis on curation over creation.

From reviews shared on Twitter, to holiday snaps or ‘outfit selfies’ posted on Instagram, there is a limitless supply of authentic, social content available for brands to call upon. By selectively curating the most useful images, videos and posts, brands can build this into the shopping experience, helping consumers make more informed decisions. By sharing useful and relevant social content at the right moment, brands can give consumers the assurance they need to hit the buy button.

Not only is user-generated social content more authentic, it is highly valued by consumers. Recent research from digital marketing agency Greenlight reveals that over a third of consumers like to see brands share authentic or user-generated images (37%) or interact with their followers (35%), and a further 15% like to see brands re-post or share other user’s photos and video.

With consumers, clearly valuing social content, we expect to see more brands augment the shopping experience over the next year by curating social content and sharing this when it’s most relevant; the crucial moment when consumers are intent on making a purchase but are still considering the options.

So how does this work in real life?

Imagine if you’re buying a food processor. You will probably research the various brands online, to start with. You might ever search for inspiration from top Instagram foodie. After putting a little time into your search, you’ll probably end up landing on a retailer’s website. It’s at that moment when you’re deciding whether to take the plunge that seeing endorsements from other customers holds the most power.

Viewing photos, videos, reviews and other posts shared by real people that have previously bought that very same product, in the context of the shopping experience, can really help to reassure shoppers that they are making the right decision and empower them to click the ‘buy now’ button.

We’re already seeing a shift to content curation and next year we will see even more brands incorporate social content in to their owned sites, not only to build brand awareness but to help consumers come to a decision through authentic, third party endorsements, thereby helping to reduce basket abandonment and convert consumers into loyal customers.

By Jordan Kretchmer, CEO at Livefyre