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Today’s most forward-looking beauty editors are expanding their influence far beyond the pages of their publications.

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Eva Chen Twitter page

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Kika Rocha’s red carpet commentary

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Appeared In
Special Issue
Beauty Inc issue 09/09/2011

“The wishword is ‘immediate,’” says Roberta Myers, Elle’s editor in chief. “The more mediums that allow us to do that, the better, particularly with beauty, which is so universal.”

“Multiple platforms give us more space, they allow us to go deeper into a subject and to talk to our readers 24 hours a day,” adds Dougherty. “Our goal is to have Elle beauty wherever she needs it and whenever she needs it.”

In today’s environment, few mediums are as immediate as Twitter, which has brought the reader closer than ever to the once-rarefied world of editors. “Our audience wants to know who we are,” says Eva Chen, beauty director of Teen Vogue, who had 17,626 Twitter followers as of press time. Although that’s nowhere near the 9 million-plus followers a celebrity like Kim Kardashian commands, it’s an impressive number for an editor.

“Editors are no longer like the Wizard of Oz behind the curtain. This is the post-Devil Wears Prada, post-Project Runway audience,” says Chen. “I used to write letters to the editor. Today, readers want to be able to reach out and get an answer immediately.”

Chen, whose Twitter handle is evachen212, tweets multiple times a day, touching on the personal and professional. On August 21, for example, she tweeted 41 times, on topics ranging from recommending her favorite red lipstick to a reader (Dior) to anxiously awaiting the finale of The Glee Project to posting a picture on Instagram of a chic Céline wallet she covets. “I love Twitter,” says Chen. “At first, I dreaded joining because I am quite private, and I was worried about that, but I realized there is a way to make people feel like they know me without giving too much away.”

Chen uses Twitter to give her followers the illusion of being insiders. For example, at a launch event for Bottega Veneta’s new fragrance, Chen was forbidden by an embargo to tweet pictures of the actual bottle. Instead, she tweeted pictures of the event’s locale, which took place in an apartment made famous by the Sex and the City movie. “My readers care about that just as much,” she says. “The things they care about most are the things that make them feel like they’re inside the event with you.” For editors of celebrity magazines, that urgency is even more incumbent. Now that readers can speak to celebrities directly via Twitter, editors are using the medium to both establish their bona fides and burnish their brand positioning.

“There’s no longer six degrees of separation,” laughs Gwen Flamberg, beauty director of Us Weekly. "Readers can see exactly what the celebrity is doing, and they can interact with them. I have to tweet and draw my followers attention to what celebrities are doing in the minute. Real time meant something different a few years ago. Today, in this world of instant gratification, we have to bring the brand to life 24 hours a day, minute to minute.”

Kika Rocha, beauty and fashion director of People En Español, uses Twitter to gauge the interest of her readers on various topics, be it a hair style or a celeb. “For me, it’s a great way to test what they want to see in the magazine, what their concerns are, their beauty problems, their questions,” she says. Rocha’s question/answer advice tweets have found such a strong audience that in August, the magazine’s Web site, peopleenespanol.com, launched Los Tips de Kika on its home page, highlighting a question of the day. Just two weeks into the launch, Rocha’s Twitter followers increased 16 percent to 15,373, while her influence, or amplification, in the social media space increased 32 percent, according to Klout, which measures influence online. Says Rocha, “It’s great, never-ending conversation.”

As dreamy as that is for an editor, unexpurgated contact with readers can also be a double-edged sword. “There is a lot more pressure on the editor,” says Gal- lagher. “They used to be able to put what they wanted on a page or in a story, and even if everyone hated it or the hair dye didn’t work, they would never really hear about it. Now if they make a bad call, they hear about it, from hundreds of people. Readers police the writers more than they ever did,” she continues, “and it raises the game for everybody.”

There’s also the danger of losing focus. The magazine has to remain the raison d’etre of the entire enterprise, warns Samir Husni, director of the magazine inno- vation center at the University of Mississippi, AKA Mr. Magazine. “Even though we’re bombarded with information, we’re less informed than ever before,” he posits. “Tweeting and blogging are the appetizers. The brand, the magazine, has to be the main dish. If you’re going to survive in this multifaceted world of information, you have to do what makes you special.”

That’s a lesson Teen Vogue’s Chen and her compatriots know well. “People call it new media and social media, but to me, it’s media. It’s different layers and everything has to serve its purpose,” says Chen, noting that may mean producing a beautiful photo shoot for the magazine, then providing a tutorial for how to get the finished look at teenvogue.com and behind the scenes pictures at Tumblr and the musical playlist from the shoot at Spotify. “I want readers to be able to literally live the story. The magazine always has to be the standard to which everything else is held.”

 

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