Social Media’s Evolving Influence on the Fashion Industry
Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook, Pinterest, Blogspot and Wordpress... all are among the growing list of free mass media communication tools used to keep companies on the pulse of online retail development. While magazines still hold pull in the industry with their access to a larger subscriber base, the benefits of partnering with digital, individual voices are becoming increasingly attractive. “[Blogs] are the future of advertising,” states Erin Griffith of AdWeek, addressing the matter. Anyone can easily start a blog, but those who succeed at doing so have to bring something new to the field, fill a niche among the daunting number of already existing bloggers out there. They must forge a connection with the reader. Make reading your blog feel like readers are talking to a trusted friend and you can have as much pull as a magazine in terms of opinions on fashion. While a magazine’s readers know that there is an authentic, knowledgeable voice behind their words, personal style bloggers put a face and a personality behind their words. They probably don’t understand the industry or have even a fraction of the experience as their editorial counterparts, but they are able to communicate with their readers on a more personal level.
The internet offers even journalists and photographers an outlet for their work that didn’t quite make the cut into physical publications. The appeal lies in the lack of constraint that can be shared, uploaded, posted, pinned, or reblogged onto the various websites. The role of bloggers is to share their own opinions, styles, and experiences with their readers to make it a more personable interaction rather than the sometimes forced intimacy of a magazine, Julia Frakes of “Bunny Bisous” explained to Teen Vogue. "The spirit and camaraderie don't come across from just looking at a snapshot in a magazine, and I want to share that energy with my readers."
Alternative, new age communication methods have ushered the brand and consumer relationship into the social networking era. “I think that with social media, we can do everything that television cannot do,” Erika Bearman of OscarPRGirl said at the WWD Digital Forum, “and that is talk to them [consumers].” There was once a time where critics’ reviews were the only ones that mattered, and designers would have to appear on public broadcasting or be profiled in a magazine to communicate with their audiences. Now, thanks to the immediacy of websites like style.com, vogue.com, and livestream.com, fashion has become a two-sided conversation. Magazines don’t yet need to feel threatened (though some malicious statements from high powered editors like Franca Sozzani and Cathy Horyn say otherwise) by the occasional elimination of the middleman as seen in Rag & Bone’s sales effective flyer-style Spring/Summer 2011 ads. They should, however, rethink their approach to presenting fashion and reaffirm their online presence in context with the social media revolution.