There’s been a lot of talk about Vogue’s choice to feature Kim Kardashian and Kanye West on its April cover, but Christina Binkley’s piece for the Wall Street Journal’s Speakeasy blog zeroes in on an important point:
Kim has 20.3 million Twitter followers, to Kanye’s 10.3 million. Vogue has a mere 3.63 million followers, so the magazine has everything to gain from this association, in a publishing world that is increasingly focused on social media.
Kim and Kanye landing a Vogue cover demonstrates how building and maintaining social media followers has emerged as a type of equity.
Cover Sparked Heated Debate
This isn’t anything new for Kim, who can make five figures from a single sponsored tweet, but it’s understandable that Anna Wintour’s decision has sparked heated debate. “Arguments reverberating around the Internet over the last few days have largely focused on this central question: Does Kim Kardashian deserve to be on the cover of Vogue?” observes the Washington Post’s Cara Kelly. Sarah Michelle Gellar and others appear concerned that Vogue is compromising its standards. But more likely those standards are just evolving.
Wintour explained her decision by invoking the magazine’s history of highlighting “those who define the culture at any given moment.” And social media now plays a significant role in culture. Perhaps Vogue’s choice of Kim and Kanye is a signal of the magazine’s adjustment to that significance—“evidence of a shift in target audience toward younger, more socially connected readers,” as Adweek puts it.