Consumers’ perception of the brand, its image, is not only shaped by its management team but also by consumers, popular culture, the media, opinion leaders, and a broad base of other influencers.
With the onset of social media, the influence of consumers in shaping a brand’s image has grown immensely. The persuasive power of their word-of-mouth outweighs that of advertising, and the new media greatly amplifies it. User-generated content, whether in the form of reviews, opinions, advice, rants or complaints, garners greater credibility than the messages advertised by marketers.
Since the brand’s image or meaning is authored by vast array of players, brand managers need to positively influence these authors to deliver desired brand messages. They need to devote considerable resources to influencing analysts, bloggers and other influential consumers. Indeed, many companies, and especially those with greater exposure to the new media, are now spending more on advocacy than on conventional media.
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