VanityFairer: The Magazine’s Social Faux Pas?
Seems like everybody and his posse is trying to figure out how to use Twitter to promote a business. A lot of these feeds are loaded with ham-fisted promotions that are as likely to repel as attract. Mainstream media have been no more skilled than your typical supplement pusher, for the most part.
Which brings us to Vanityfairer, a Twitter “fan”feed by someone who identifies “her”self only as Vanity Fair Wayfarer and whose bio reads only “I heart Vanity Fair magazine.”
“Her” updates are really pretty good–mainly pointers to stuff about, in or related to content from the celebrity-addled, scrumptiously visual, annoyingly literate and therefore-hard-to-ignore glossy.
So is this a real fanfeed, or a Twitter Potemkin village?
I couldn’t find any reference to the Vanity Fairer feed on VF’s website.
But back in June VF Daily did a characteristically high-ironic item about the magazine’s new Facebook page. Editorial assistant Bill Bradley writes that he’d been charged with getting 10,000 members for a VF page in two months, at pain of losing his job. [As of this writing, the Facebook page has 8,610 fans, and according to the site, Bradley is no longer in the employ of VF. Of course we have no idea whether this is true.] So clearly someone at VF has been pondering what the magazine should do in the world of social media.
[In fact, read this wonderful entry from Vantiy Fair Daily about VF mid-level editorial staff’s recent indoctrination to social media by Conde Nast, which led to the whole Bradley gambit.]
Back to Vanityfairer: It looks to me like the Twitter feed is an undisclosed VF inside job. Vanity Fairer is following a conspicuous list of 51 prominentos from the worlds of technology and media [including Tim O’Reilly, Esther Dyson, WSJ’s Kara Swisher, 2.0 author Sarah Lacy, John Dickerson of Slate, Gawker, Ana Marie Cox and TechCrunch, A-list tech bloggers plus a few C-list hangers-on like me].
The trick to building a Twitter posse, as savvy Twitsters know, is to “follow” people whom you hope will follow you back–or actually maybe write a blog item about the Twitter stream to gain some 2.0 brainshare [!]. So there is clearly something tactical and ambitious about Vanity Fairer’s “following” list. Vanity Fairer appears to be following none of her own personal friends, for instance. A bit curious.
[I should point out that as of this date, the only people who have taken Vanity Fairer’s bait are CNN social media ubiquitist Rick Sanchez, MSNBC cartoonist Daryl Cagle and someone named Vitor Fasano, who Twitters, I think, in Portugese. And me.]
I direct-messaged Vanity Fairer to see what’s up. “She” wrote this:
Good to hear from you, am actually a fan of *you*rs (Drama 2.0) too! Yes, I am just a fan of VF mag; pretty sure they have no idea I exist. [The reference to “Drama 2.0” regards a mysterious fellow from the world of online advertising and marketing whose schtick is a hilarious bitter cynicism about web 2.0 foolishness. Which is to say his blog is kind of like mine, but his is really good and apparently makes money.]
Then this, an hour later:
p.s. I wish VF HAD put me up to this, it’s something they should be doing!
Then this, after I asked why she was following only media luminaries but not friends:
Have another acct on Twitter 4 friends; this acct lets me “play” a bit anonymously. Media lums I follow here r people I think VF wld follow?
For now, let’s have some sport and, what the heck, assume the worst about Vanit Fairer.
If Vanity Fairer is an official VF venture–someone doing the corporate flagship magazine’s bidding but disguised as an independent fan–that’s a bad move by Conde Nast.
Rules No. 1 through 10 of social media are “Don’t f*ck with people.”
Don’t use social media to play pretend. If you want to make a cool Twitter feed for your publication, go for it. But don’t make like it’s not yours. If you’re a real independent fan of the magazine, launch a Twitter feed. But if you have some some sort of entanglement with the pub, say so. No shame in it.
Of course, circumstantial evidence notwithstanding, it’s possible that Vanity Fairer is an independent effort. In which case I am once again spewing nonsense into the digital void. The only consolation is that this is not the first time, nor likely to be the last.
But if I’m right. . .
Vanity Fair has made its reputation by illuminating the world of tuxedo-and-ball-gown “high” society.
Wouldn’t it be a hoot if it stomped into this foreign new social swirl like a drunken hillbilly?