Opinion Leader - Explained
What is an Opinion Leader?
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What is an Opinion Leader?
An Opinion Leader (OL) is an individual capable to repeatedly persuade and influence other people's behaviors according to her/his own preferences.
Opinion leadership is achieved and sustained through a leader’s technical competence, social skills and compliance with values and norms of his current social system.
It is a type of informal leadership where the persuasion is indirect and frequent in time.
Usually the relationship between an Opinion Leader and his followers is based on their admiration and willingness to look like the leader.
Often in the followers’ perspective, Opinion Leaders are of a higher social status, more exposed to international activities and relationships, and more concerned with any forms of external communication. These characteristics are not necessarily true, they could be only the followers’ perception.
What are the Types of Opinion Leader?
Marketing and communication literature distinguishes two types of opinion leadership:
- Monomorphic opinion leadership. This applies when a leader’s influence is limited to one specific topic. This is a typical leadership style of modern industrial societies characterized by specialization of roles and division of labor. Nowadays, this is the most common style of opinion leadership in developed countries.
- Polymorphic opinion leadership. This applies when a leader’s influence covers different topics. This is a more conventional leadership style, nowadays obsolescent, typical of traditional societies. In small towns not dominated by industrial logics and media culture, some elder and highly respected people might give advices on a variety of topics manipulating thus behaviors of surrounding people.