Influencers and the Two-step Flow Theory


While working as an apprentice at an interior design company in 2009, Zoe Sugg created her blog, “Zoella”, where she wrote about fashion and beauty. By 2014, her website had received over 140 million visits. In 2013, “The Telegraph” described her as one of “Britain’s most influential Tweeters”.

With 200,000 followers on Twitter and 1.1m followers on Instagram, Zoella remains a popular brand and personality with the audience.

This examination practice is taken from the style section of her blog. It is important to note that her posts contain ad-affiliate links. In other words, she gets paid to advertise some of the products and to collaborate with brands.


Analyse the following page from Zoella’s website in terms of the two-step flow theory of communication.

website screenshot
Screenshot from Zoella’s Blog

Points to Consider

Are we easily “brainwashed” by the media? Do well simply follow the trends presented to us on television, podcasts or on our social media feeds? Do these platforms have a powerful and persuasive influence on the audience? Early research into the effects of propaganda on the public suggested the mass media could have a profound impact on our values and beliefs.

However, Paul Lazarsfeld and his team’s research project into the behaviour of voters in the 1940s presidential elections in America suggested newspapers and radio had a very limited influence on the audience. In fact, friends, family and neighbours had a much greater impact on how we might vote for a particular candidate.

In 1955, Katz and Lazarsfeld offered a fuller explanation of the two-step flow theory in their book “Personal Influence: The Part Played by People in the Flow of Mass Communications”. For the media studies examination, you only need the broad definitions of opinion leaders and opinion followers.

In this unseen example, the institutions behind the products are fashion companies. Obviously, the medium is Zoella’s own website.

According to Katz, an opinion leader is someone who is trustworthy and has a supportive social network. Team Zoella are the opinion leaders who have sorted through the autumn catalogues and decided which dresses, jumpers and footwear are this season’s “must haves”. Do we trust their advice?

The viewer is the opinion follower looking for the “latest picks” on what to wear.

Using the two-step flow theory of communication, explain why this form of advertising is so effective

You may also like

Comments are closed.