Vogue Casts 1,000 ‘Influencers’ for Network

Condé taps word-of-mouth, social stars for advertisers' sake

It’s not enough that a brand like Vogue can sway people to buy certain products by virtue of its clout. Brands today want to use the magazine’s readers to spread the word about their products.

To that end, the Condé Nast fashion bible has launched the Influencer Network, a platform for advertisers that want to get on the social media bandwagon. The Influencer Network is a panel of some 1,000 women deemed to have sway over other women, based on how active they are on social networks like Facebook and Polyvore, a fashion site where people create collages of outfits and share them with other members.

“There are a lot of people who are self-appointed experts,” says Susan Plagemann, vp, publisher of Vogue. “The biggest difference is, we’re developing a program of ambassadors who spread the word digitally across a very big network about the access that’s been given because of Vogue.”

Panel members, who aren’t compensated, are asked to provide feedback for clients on anything from new products, upcoming fashion collections, and ad creative. They’re encouraged to talk about the products on their social networks, raising awareness of the products and Vogue itself. Plagemann says more than eight marketers have used the network since it launched early this year, noting that “word of mouth has become one of the biggest influencers, along with advertising, in terms of driving purchase.” She adds that Vogue’s marketing team devised the criteria to identify individuals who are “the highest caliber of people in this sphere of influence.”

So, what does Vogue count as influence? Many of them are young bloggers who, whether they have actual influence or not, are certainly passionate about fashion, and Vogue. Here’s a sampling:

Christa Marzan is a 24-year-old blogger. She describes herself as “just a girl who likes fashion.” She counts some 1,678 Twitter followers. So what landed her a spot in Vogue’s Influence Network? “I consider myself an Influencer because I use potentially powerful tools (blogging, social media) to pass on news and have discussion about what’s happening in the fashion world,” Marzan wrote in an email.

Bonnielee Cuevas is a self-described “reality show addict” who spends her time home schooling and reading political memoirs when she’s not keeping up with Housewives and Jersey Shore. This year she founded a lifestyle website, Pink Couture Life, empowering people, she writes, to “live happy, stylish, and in the pink.”

• A blogger calling herself Closet Fashionista is a 2011 college grad who works at a marketing agency but dreams of a job at Vogue so she can “afford nice stuff,” she says. She counts 404 Twitter followers.

• Erin Yogasundram is a college student who calls herself “one of the most motivated and passionate people that you will ever meet in your life” and dreams of opening her own boutique. Her Twitter followers number a relatively big 3,510.

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