On Yahoo’s Search Marketing Blog, Edwin Wong, Senior Manager, Market Research recently posted about using social media to develop advocates for your brand, based on recent Yahoo!-comScore study. Findings from the study as well as Wong’s own personal examples illustrate the ways people use social media like blogs and email to gather and share information about those brands or products they care about. This method of communication influences purchasing decisions as well as company reputation and image – all of which is relevant for Fashion PR as well as other consumer-based PR specialties.
Wong offers a helpful definition of Brand Advocates:
Brand advocates are adventurous opinion leaders and social influencers who are slightly younger, more educated and spend more time online than non-advocates.
- Brand advocates are incredibly valuable to marketers because they are better connected consumers with a larger sphere of influence.
- As thought leaders, if you can reach them, they will influence a larger group.
- Advocates are avid researchers who consider more brands, and this makes them more open to dialogue with marketers.
- Post-purchase, they have higher levels of brand commitment, are more likely to recommend brands, and tend to talk about positive experiences.
- Advocates are opinion leaders who influence other people’s purchase decisions, telling at least twice as many people about their purchases than non-advocates.
Opinion leaders, a term coined by communications scholars Katz and Lazarsfeld as part of the Two-step flow of communication, are people who, by virtue of their interest of in certain subjects, become perceived experts on those subjects. Often aware of the latest news and trends relating to their interest, opinion leaders take what they learn from media and other channels and share that information with friends, families, and peers.
Back in 1955, Katz and Lazarsfeld surmised that opinion leadership exists in the realms of fashion, marketing, public opinion and movie attendance, acknowledging that opinion leadership exists for any issue or decision. Fashion bloggers are a great example of fashion opinion leaders who use social media. In this case, the blog format, provides a forum these bloggers to share their expertise regarding those aspects of fashion they are most passionate about – handbags, finding bargains, celebrity style for less, indie fashion and others.