When a shopper falls in love with a brand, he or she just can’t wait to share that information with their friends. And it is these “brand advocates” who form the core of the business for Polyvore, a social networking site launched three years ago.
Since its creation by three Silicon Valley software entrepreneurs, Polyvore has grown into the largest community of tastemakers and stylists on the Web.
Pasha Sadri, co-founder and chief executive officer, said Tuesday that the site is organized around creating, sharing and ranking collages of fashion photographs. Users are encouraged to display their preferences by creating “sets” of apparel, accessories and lifestyle products and then sharing those images on the site as well as on Facebook, Twitter and blogs.
On a daily basis, Sadri said Polyvore users clip 50,000 images, create 30,000 sets and share 6 million impressions. Since site’s inception, users have created more than 20 million fashion sets.
Sadri said these numbers represent the “progression” and “democratization” of the media over the past several years. Traditional media such as magazines, where brands use the printed page to communicate their message, are limited by the size of the publication and the writers and editors who produce the content. In Web-based media, more content can be displayed to appeal to a larger audience. The category “explodes,” he said, when it enters the social media realm. Facebook, for example attracts 500 million people and shares 1 million posts per day. “Everyone can have a voice,” Sadri said.
This phenomenon affects advertising as well, he added. Print ads are aspirational, but Web-based ads tend to be banner ads and “lose a lot of their aspirational allure.” However, Sadri said, “social media is the new form of brand endorsement. It’s authentic word-of-mouth and allows [brands] to get some of aspirational [elements] back.”
Such grassroots endorsements are hitting home with major brands, including Coach, Tommy Hilfiger and Diane von Furstenberg, which have collaborated with Polyvore to create contests on its site. To celebrate the one-year anniversary of its Poppy fragrance, Coach encouraged users to create sets about the scent. In seven days, more than 6,000 sets were created, resulting in 140,000 “likes” and 14,000 comments. This is “authentic engagement,” Sadri said, noting that brands would be “hard-pressed to pay” for such exposure.
Sadri said Polyvore fans are found throughout the world and half of the site’s its traffic is international. “The content is universal,” he said.
The company is preparing to launch a “brand engagement analytic” tool, which will give companies insights on who is interacting with the brand and how, Sadri said.