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The emergence and extensive rise of digital technologies has widely enabled organisations and their consumers to interact and connect with one another through the internet platform. According to Deuze (2006, p. 68), utilisation of such has encouraged consumers to share their opinions, feelings and judgements of the products and services offered to their esteemed associations through the online platform with no much efforts.
This has led to emergence of several online cultures as mediums for communication. In the use of online cultures, Yang (2003, p. 50) indicates that blogging is among the oldest and most traditional form, which started to emerge in the late twentieth century. Many authors have varied definitions of blogs due to its complexity.
Technically, as Deuze (2006, p. 69) notes, blogs refer to websites that comprise of discrete entries, posts, or websites with contents written by a blogger. The contents are arranged in a reverse sequential order organised into categories. In the same way as noted, the advancement in technology has impelled a drastic shift in blog usage and concept development (Wright 2005, p. 7).
In general, online culture can be categorised into several contents that include an individual’s personal views and news, advertising, and customer services, internal information sharing, insight in professional issues, knowledge management application, and civil engagement function.
As cited in Rocamoran (2011, p. 409), just like other blogging, fashion blogging has exponentially grown across the globe (Denegri-Knott and Molesworth 2013, p. 57). Moreover, numerous researches assert that the fashion industry has many well-known and famous bloggers as compared to other industries such as politics, food, tourism and travel industries.
Fashion bloggers, as empirical research indicates, can influence the industry either directly or indirectly. Furthermore, as Kuhn (2007, p. 20) indicates, bloggers, apart from using their likes and dislikes to influence the way certain brands or products are presented, they can launch new trends in their respective industries and publicly discuss issues that companies are afraid to discuss in public.
Social Influence and Blogging about Fashion
Among the most popular use of online culture is the capability to socialise and form social links with other online users. This is possible regardless of the geographical locations and temporal margins (Rothaermel & Sugiyama 2001, p. 304). Therefore, the internet-based blogs has the potential to form and organise virtual communities with no limitation to any geographical phenomenal.
As Deuze (2006, p. 72) notes, online cultural influence models affect several fashions blogging variables, such as the community norms, social identities, and mutual agreements and accommodation in the virtual groups. These, in sum, influence individual group members’ decision-making and involvement within an organisation.
According to Rothaermel and Sugiyama (2001, p. 304), these virtual communities can influence the choice of their members in purchasing products and services in spite of how recognisable the members are to the final users. Similarly, blogs like any other online cultures rely on numbers in the virtual communities that can repeatedly read their blog postings (Scullion et al. 2013, p. 73).
The social influence nature of the online cultures allows for the formation of large virtual communities who might influence the purchase of their products or services (Huang, Chou, and Lin 2008, p. 354).
The blogs, as Huang, Chou, and Lin (2008, p. 354) note, allows for individuals with common interest to come together to share information and ideas, as well as to gain knowledge from other members of the virtual community, fashion bloggers can utilise the social influence tendency of the online culture to reach a large number of audiences.
In addition, as Baym and Zhang (2004, p. 312 ) points out, consumers tend to trust the information generated by fellow consumers on the effectiveness of products and services more than information that come the product producers or services providers.
For that reason, fashion bloggers can capitalise on the social influence tendency of the online culture in order to gain more customers from the positive influence of their virtual group members (Molesworth and Denegri-Knott 2013, p. 62).
In blogging about fashion, the bloggers have to focus on increasing the quality of their blog’s quality. In the process, bloggers can use interactions and comments to gauge the success of their posts. Moreover, blogs should have unique content. This brings out the extensive research that a blogger has done. If a fashion blogger uses clear pictures in the blogs, there is development of strong emotional attachment with the target group.
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Participations in the online culture enable people to access variety of products at their respective locations. Even though the blogging concept provides a virtual emotional attachment to the viewers, it has been able to not only supplement the customers’ off-line culture, but also alter the entire purchase dynamics among consumers (Molesworth and Denegri-Knott 2012, p. 97).
The blogging culture has made it possible to share views and experiences of the diaspora. In essence, the internet culture in personal blogs brings out the nature of individuality. In the process, the blogging culture can alter the nature of consumer desires. Clearly, the approach has a great influence in the society; it changes the identity of different fashion brands.
As a result, consumers’ relationships with the brands become stronger than when using the usual marketing strategies. The use of internet to reach consumers increases information retention among consumers, as they are able to access information at their various locations.
Data from literature and fashion bloggers’ library, as Yang (2003, p. 51) notes, indicates that the success of a blogger is evaluated on the perception of its authenticity or uniqueness of the blogs voice.
Therefore, authenticity as in the online culture, as Huang, Chou, and Lin (2008, p. 352) state, has an enormous effect on pre-purchase activities since consumers can bargain for products online by accessing the company’s blogs in addition to the valuable and reliable reviews about the products from previous users.
Bloggers need to pay much attention to the authenticity of their blogs in order to capture the market, especially for the fashion industry as in this case (Molesworth and Denegri-Knott 2008, p. 379). For that reason, successful fashion bloggers must show the credibility and value of their blogs. Or else, their blogs will not attract and retain readership and advertisers (Molesworth and Denegri-Knott 2012, p. 95).
In order to accomplish this authenticity, fashion bloggers need to present sentiments based on a vast understanding of fashion and flair before presenting it to their target market segment. Moreover, as Rocamoran (2011, p. 409) indicates, authenticity of bloggers enable them to gain popularity in the industry, thereby enabling the bloggers to attend popular events where they are photographed.
When such information is included in the blogger’s archives, it increases his/her sales. In the online culture, authenticity of the bloggers makes it easier to access a fashion blog since consumers have the opportunity to search information using a blogger’s name, thus popularising the blogger. As a result, popular hence ease the access to the company’s brands (Watkins and Molesworth 2012, p. 168).
Frequency and timely updates
Fashion blogging, as Rothaermel & Sugiyama (2001, p. 312) point out, is a fast-pacing industry. Therefore, for a fashion blogger to obtain and retain audience in the crowded online culture and information sphere, the blogger needs to give a timely and frequent updates as possible.
According to Huang, Chou, and Lin (2008, p. 351) as the technology such as online culture is known to be susceptible to changes, fashion bloggers aiming to be ahead in the global market can utilise this attribute to market their products or services. Likewise, bloggers can use their blogs to inform their audience of upcoming events or live-stream shows to make known their products or services to consumers.
This increases the viewership in order to popularise their services. As supported by Yang (2003, p. 53), the timely updates give bloggers the opportunity to inform their esteemed consumers in time. Therefore, just as the name suggest their consumers can move with the current trends and fashions in the industry.
In the same manner, the timely nature of online culture offers bloggers a chance to inform the fashion cliques on the new trends and fashions, hence they remain updated resulting in a high turnout of clients to the bloggers.
According to Vilopponen, Winter and Sundqvist (2006, p.68), online culture has led to a shift of the world in buying and selling of goods and services, which has been dictated by sellers to a more friendly style where power lies with the buyers.
Because of the online culture, Rocamoran (2011, p. 413) points out that consumers have the choice to research, and compare different companies’ products or services in order to find the most suitable option.
Therefore, frequent updates on blogs, as Kahn and Kellner (2004, p. 87) cite, allow for an easy access of information about the blogs. Since online culture presents a chance that enables frequent updates, fashion bloggers who intends to run the market should utilise this approach (Denegri-Knott and Molesworth 2009, p. 309).
With the emergence of online cultures, consumers are capable of passing their opinions about products to other intended users by leaving comments about the products on the company’s blogs. The comments assist in attracting thousands of viewers within a short duration, as they guide traffic to the blogs.
The use of online culture interaction, as Vilopponen, Winter, and Sundqvist (2006, p.72) indicate, plays a major role in keeping the medium sparkling and active. In essence, this determines the popularity of the medium. Just like other, social networks, blogs do not filter the content on their comment sections.
According to Rocamoran (2011, p. 420), the blogs contains an extensive amount of comments with negative and positive information. Since bloggers do not monitor the comments section, and the fact that users are not obliged to register before they leave their comments, and the comments are posted directly onto the blogs walls, there are great risk of spreading negative information (Denegri-Knott and Molesworth 2010, 67).
Therefore, it is important for bloggers to note that whereas a positive comment is good for marketing, as well as boosts a company’s brands in order to increase the company’s sales, equally, negative comments can be disastrous to the company’s image (Kahn and Kellner 2004, p. 88).
The online users of the company blogs, as Huang, Chou, and Lin (2008, p. 352) indicate, have the chance to read and analyse other consumers’ experiences on a specific products or brands from the online store. This can help in getting the consumers’ attentions and heighten their interests for the product (Molesworth 2012, p. 48).
On the other hand, since those commenting on blogs are mostly individuals without any stake in the company, and are free to share their opinions, the reviews can leave very negative comments (Molesworth, Jenkins, and Eccles 2011, p. 152). Since in online cultures messages can spread faster, Kahn and Kellner (2004, p. 88) suggest that bloggers should do their best to satisfy their consumers to ensure they give a positive comment.
Effects of Blogs on the Consumer Buying Behaviours
According to Rocamoran (2011, p. 422), the use of social media by consumers as a source of information to consider what to purchase and where to do the purchase from the online stores is tremendously growing globally. However, numerous studies assert that buying the behaviour that occurs in blogs differs considerably from that in other social medium forms.
In support of this view, Huang, Chou, and Lin (2008, p. 353) indicate that blogs represent different forms of marketing that may or may not please their target market. This is because marketing efforts found in blogs can hugely influence consumers and the buying process itself, hence necessitating the need for reviews in order to make informed choices (Rocamoran (2011, p. 423)
From the analysis, blogs, in terms of a marketing tool, is advantageous in that consumers do not regard it as an aggressive method, thus making them react positively in most occasions (Denegri-Knott and Molesworth 2010, p. 125). Therefore, blogs can express the blogger’s opinion, uphold discount and, at the same time, give their audience direct links to the internet archives, and still preserve a neutral point of view to its user.
This makes fashion bloggers garner an enormous advantage to online retail stores by enabling economical and eye-catching marketing with limited interference from the outside sources that may reverse the opinions of valued customers.
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