In Vogue

How Our Most Favorite Glossy Is Winning Social Media—and Our Well-Heeled and Well-Dressed Hearts

Once upon a time, this glossy-loving girl worried about the fate of her favorite fashion magazines. Could her most loved monthlies survive the digital age? And if they did, would she even want them?

In the words of Vogue’s legendary Anna Wintour, “Fashion is not about looking back. It’s always about looking forward.” And look forward is exactly what Vogue has done, leading the way in social media, content creation, and most importantly, engagement.

A little less than a year ago, the Magazine Media Industry released its first social media report, citing a list of top 10 social media influencers. Vogue wasn’t just on the list; it took all the top spots among fashion magazines, dominating every major social media platform.

It’s a peek behind the curtain, an inside look, an intimate relationship Vogue never could have created within the pages of its static printed pages. 

The results piqued the interest of Women’s Wear Daily, which reported the top 10 list, along with specifics on Vogue’s social standing.

Top 10 influencers were National Geographic (with 67 million “likes” and followers), ESPN The Magazine (40.3 million), Time (22.9 million), the Economist (21.7 million), Vogue (19.5 million), Playboy (19 million), People (13.3 million), Elle (10.9 million), Forbes (10.6 million), and Discover (9.9 million).

Women’s Wear Daily went on to report that Vogue topped every major platform, including Facebook (6.3 million followers). Vogue was followed by Cosmopolitan (5.8 million), Teen Vogue (4.6 million), Glamour (4.2 million), and InStyle (4 million). Vogue also topped Twitter rankings with 5.7 million, followed by Elle (3.2 million), InStyle (3 million), Teen Vogue (2.4 million), and Vanity Fair (2 million).

Vogue dominated Instagram too with 3.8 million followers. In second place, GQ trailed behind with 1.5 million followers, followed by Teen Vogue with a little more than 1 million, Vanity Fair with 864,195, and W with 854,968.

Vogue social media

Since the 2015 report, Vogue’s numbers have exploded. As of last week, Vogue has 7.1 million Facebook followers, 9.68 million on Twitter, and 8.6 million (more than doubling in less then a year!) on Instagram.

But do those numbers translate into security for the printed pub? Sadly, no. Impressive social reach hasn’t kept Vogue’s little sister publication, Teen Vogue, safe from recent rumors that the print edition may be in trouble.

While I can’t (and don’t want to) imagine a world without glossies, for the sake of finding lessons in Vogue’s social media success, maybe that’s not the point. Instead of debating whether or not the glossy print edition will survive, we as marketers can study how Vogue has found new relevancy in the digital world. Vogue certainly has figured out a way to meet its audience where she is with what she loves. And that, it seems, is exactly the point.

Best Facebook Forward

Vogue magazine made its first formidable entrance into social media way back in 2008, when it was one of the first fashion magazines to establish a presence on the ready-to-explode Facebook. Today Facebook is still a large presence for the magazine, with 7,149,841 likes as of last week. But followers are doing a whole lot more than liking the page; they are actively consuming a continual lineup of fresh, noninterruptive content.

In the words of Vogue’s legendary Anna Wintour, “Fashion is not about looking back. It’s always about looking forward.” 

Links to online articles like “The Stealth Evolution of Kate Middleton’s Swingy Signature Haircut,” “Why French Girls Skip Concealer: The Surprising Silver Lining Behind Your Under-Eye Circles,” and “How to Eat Like Tom Brady and Gisele Bündchen in 2016” appear to feed an insatiable hunger among Vogue followers for all the latest in fashion/beauty news you can use—and some you probably shouldn’t (“Rihanna Shows That Socks and Pumps Are a Winning Winter Combo”).

The content shared is a marked departure from the glossy pages of the print edition. While the printed pub could be described as aspirational, the online content is much more attainable. The print pub is a fantasy, while the online world Vogue has created is much more real. On Vogue’s Facebook wall we see cover models making burritos, celebs changing diapers, and editors sharing selfies.

It’s not just articles, either. It’s pictures (of course) and video … lots and lots of video. The very well done features original shorts along with on-set interviews and model interviews.

All this content has created a destination for followers that Vogue is leveraging (in its media kits, Vogue reports an impressive 8,736,245 unique visitors each month to its website compared to an even more impressive print audience of 11,909,000 per issue). Numbers aside, as they say, content is king.

That, it seems, is where the magic lives for Vogue on Facebook—in the real, the true, the secrets behind the high-fashion, high-society stories it shares in its print edition. It’s almost like a front-row seat to all the things Vogue followers already love—fashion, beauty, celebrity—but even better. It’s a peek behind the curtain, an inside look, an intimate relationship Vogue never could have created within the pages of its static printed pages.

It’s about the content, of course, but it’s also about the medium. To use another lesson from Communications 101, “The medium is the message,” a phrase coined by communications theorist Marshall McLuhan more than 50 years ago. As followers scroll their wall for the happenings of their nearest and dearest friends, they are also seeing this carefully curated content. Their guard is down and their desire to connect is up. Vogue is meeting them where they are, and that is why it works, for Vogue and for every woman ready to consume the next piece of desirable—and shareable—content.

A Little (Twitter) Birdie Told Me …

If Facebook is where Vogue shares content, Twitter is where it talks about it. In 140 characters (or less), the fashion powerhouse is starting captivating conversations with its 9.24 million followers by asking provocative questions. “Why are we so attached to the idea of the It girl?” “When it comes to suits, which side are you on?” “Is your concert tee collection up to snuff?

And these are not hypothetical questions. Vogue followers not only retweet the seemingly impossible-to-answer questions but respond with answers that at their core are deeply personal and reflective of the community Vogue has built.

Along with those thought-provoking conversation starters, Vogue is using Twitter to once again push out content (a lot of content). Much of the same content shared on Facebook is shared here, too, but the delivery is a bit different.

It’s hard to tell if it’s intentional, or based on channel word-count restrictions, but the tone here becomes a bit more rushed, a bit more to the point, which is just perfect for the girl on the go using this medium. It’s clear from the favorites and retweets, followers are finding what they want here. And who wouldn’t want to retweet Vogue? Doesn’t everyone want to be an expert in how fashion’s favorite It bags got their names and know if Ben Stiller’s personal home décor was really inspired by Hansel’s loft in Zoolander?


While Vogue uses Facebook and Twitter to share its amazing and seemingly endless supply of curated content, the fashion powerhouse uses Instagram to inspire its legions of followers. And that, it seems, makes Instagram its most exciting and powerful social media presence.

Vogue has consistently been a leader among printed pubs in the beautiful, filtered world of Instagram. In 2013, the magazine created waves in the fashion world when it shot its coverage of Fashion Week completely with an iPhone. Called #VogueInstaFashion, it featured top model Hilary Rhoda and was shot by photographer Michael O’Neal, who Vogue staffers had followed on, where else, Instagram.

In the midst of creating content, Vogue created a destination. Yes, sometimes that destination is found through Google searches and analytics and keywords, but more often than not, it’s just a girl, looking for a moment.

“I thought this time around during Fashion Week in New York we could try doing a shoot that shows clothes you can buy in stores right now,” explained Sally Singer, creative digital director at Vogue, to Saya Weissman for an article in Digiday. “And everyone in fashion is pretty aware that Instagram is sort of the morning coffee of Fashion Week—it’s the thing they wake up to and the thing they go to bed to.”

At the time it was a new concept for an established publishing brand, and the images captivated a culture that was quickly falling in love with Instagram. And then a year later, there was the Kimye cover. The bold move forever linked the print publication to social media in the hearts and minds of readers around the world. The unofficial queen of Instagram Kim Kardashian graced the cover with fiance Kanye along with a custom headline, er, hashtag (of course!): #worldsmosttalkedaboutcouple.

“I do think Kim Kardashian represents this moment in our culture,” Vogue creative director Grace Coddington told E! at the time, “I’m fascinated by her, in the same way I’m fascinated by the people I see on the street or the subway.”

More recently, Vogue again led the way when it came to monetizing the fast-growing social media channel. The magazine known for being at the cutting edge of fashion was one of the first mainstream publications to sign on to, an offshoot of the affiliate-sales platform RewardStyle. The widely popular app allows users to purchase items seen in Vogue’s own iconic images and make them theirs. This provided Vogue with not only a new (albeit small) revenue stream, but also a new way to connect and engage its audience.

Social Standing

If you scroll through the magazine’s Instagram feed today, you’ll find a few behind-the-scenes pics of the hottest, most beautiful celebrities, but more notably, you’ll find Vogue extending its brand into social media in the most real sense. The images one finds are similar to those found within the glossy pages of the beloved fashion bible. Over the top, unexpected, even magical at times, it creates an emotion, a feeling—the same one that Vogue magazine has been selling for over a century.

And that’s the crux of it. In the midst of creating content, Vogue created a destination. Yes, sometimes that destination is found through Google searches and analytics and keywords, but more often than not, it’s just a girl, looking for a moment. A moment to feel a bit more fashionable, to fantasize, to dream.

That’s the key lesson, the holy grail, it seems, when it comes to social media. But can that strategy really work for brands? Absolutely.

Jonah Berger, author of Contagious: Why Things Catch On, certainly helps connect the dots in this interview with the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.

“You have to think about what makes people talk about and share and then build that into your product or messaging. Any product can be remarkable. Any product can be emotional. Think about what makes people feel emotion or what makes them think something is remarkable, and then build that into your product or idea.”

It’s about creating a space where people want to come in those small moments they have throughout the day—enjoying their morning coffee, waiting for the train, sitting in the carpool line. Enjoying those moments with Vogue, however brief, takes them to a place where they want to be, stay, and even share. And that, it turns out, is where the real power of social media lies. And once again, Vogue has inspired us all.

Photos/embeds: BMDG, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook

Emily Richwine

Emily Richwine

A former magazine editor, Emily got her start in journalism at the age of 9, when she penned her first letter to the editor.

Meet Emily Richwine