After accepting a Webby Award this year, which, by the way, we’re not saying was fixed, but like didn’t that just feel a little planned? Like Anna maybe just said to someone, “so, included in this year’s plan for Vogue’s branding, we will win a Webby Award and I will accept it,” and it was so? The point is that after some have criticized the mag for being less culturally relevant than it once was, Vogue seems to have gotten pretty dedicated to upgrading the internet side of its branding.
Tying that to Vogue’s reliance on advertising, they have recently launched the Influencer Network, through which advertisers can use Vogue-appointed panel members to extend the reach of their products through social media. Susan Plagemann, vice president of publishing at Vogue, tells AdWeek, “There are a lot of people who are self-appointed experts. 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 are asked to provide feedback and talk about products on their social networks and blogs. So basically, the advertisers are using (and presumably compensating) Vogue, who is using (and not compensating) Vogue readers and in the end both Vogue and its advertisers get more publicity.
So, what is Vogue’s selection process for this “network?” According Plagemann, criteria was devised to identify “the highest caliber of people in this sphere of influence.”
AdWeek highlights a few of those chosen and to call them “the highest caliber of people in this sphere of influence” is a stretch. A sampling of four participating bloggers has us a little concerned about what Vogue’s marketing team considers influential.
For example, Christa Marzan, a 24-year old blogger/”girl who likes fashion” told AdWeek: “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." Another influencer, who pens a blog called Closet Fashionista, just graduated from college, had 404 Twitter followers at the time AdWeek’s article was published and says she wants a job at Vogue so that she can “afford nice stuff.”
There’s just nothing that stands out about any of them. Here's the thing: it's likely that these panelists aren’t being compensated. An established blogger with a large following might not give Vogue and its advertisers their time and free publicity. However, for a younger (though some of them are not that young), more naive fashion fan who likes to blog, it looks like a good opportunity to be sort of associated with Vogue and other big brands and to get free samples to create content for their site, not to mention the esteemed title of “Vogue Influencer.”
AdWeek mentions activity on social networking sites Facebook and Polyvore was also taken into consideration, which makes sense, as they are probably two of the most effective online platforms for spreading awareness and driving sales. They also don’t really require any sort of professional legitimacy in the fashion world.
The network also provides a place for Vogue to send pitches and products that they wouldn’t write about but that they’re impressionable army of bloggers with lower standards would.
Overall, it's not a terrible idea, and is potentially beneficial for Vogue and its advertisers, but the word "influencer" (which, it turns out, is not actually a word) is just a tad misleading if you ask us.