During World War II, Parisian Hélène Gordon-Lazareff spent the war years in New York City working for Harper's Bazaar, then as the editor of the women's pages of the New York Times. In 1944, she and her husband, editor Pierre Lazareff, returned to a recently liberated Paris. Soon after her return, Gordon-Lazareff decided to launch a new fashion magazine, Elle.
Today, with 43 international editions in over 60 countries, Elle is the world's largest fashion magazine. The English language Facebook page has over 2.2 million likes, while the Twitter account has 2.28 million followers. Even the Google Plus page clocks in with over three million followers. In May 2014, the site elle.com received nearly eight million unique visitors.
Anyone could be forgiven if they imagined the magazine's social media team as being comprised of an bevy of community managers, busily posting content throughout the day and night. The reality, though, is that the publication's social media team is comprised of one individual, Kate Winick.
Officially, Winick's title is Social Media Editor, which encompasses a role with strategic responsibilities as well as actual community management for all of the social properties for the website. When asked about how the brand defines success, Winick answers, "our main goal with social is to drive traffic to the website."
Winick works closely with the print edition team for each issue launch, as well as with a team of bloggers who produce 20 to 25 posts a day. While she does work with a content calendar, she is often writing content on the day of the post.
Winick tells me, "As the site has become more news driven I certainly use a scheduler very heavily. Once we go home we're not posting live overnight. During the workday, we're posting live through a scheduler, usually no more than a couple hours out."
On the day of the interview, Winick has embarked on an experiment with Elle's Twitter account. The cover model for the month, Anna Kendrick, has been given the keys to the brand's account.
Winick says, "There was no concern about Anna being on brand; we love her and we know out readers love her, and we wanted to let her do her thing really freely. Getting her on board with this was pretty simple; we all wanted her."
In fact, this month's Elle is focused on the topic of social media. Winick continues, "When we talked about people for the social media issue Anna Kendrick was definitely high on everybody's list."
Both the magazine and the brand's social media content center a great deal on the world of celebrity. Winick explains, "I think the way we tend to sort it is we have an internal super-secret list of celebrities that are sort of 'Elle girls.' Those are the people who, while anyone can make news, are the people whose news we're really interested in because we know those are people who resonate with our readers."
Just as Univision uses social media to extend the television experience, Elle uses their own social in a similar way. Winick says, "We want to be, in a sense, a second screen experience for people who already read and engage with the magazine."
The website's commenting system is integrated with Facebook. That feature automatically helps to allow users to flow seamlessly between the website and the social media platform.
While Facebook is the biggest driver of traffic back to the website, the brand's success with Twitter is also strong, as well as the platform in which Winick herself most enjoys. "Most social media managers, "she says, "have a platform on which they are organically really like to play around, and Twitter is that for me."
Pinterest, Tumblr, and Instagram have also brought their own unique benefits to the brand. Winick admits, "one of the wonderful things about working at a place like Elle is that we produce such beautiful images all the time. A channel like Instagram is a natural fit and a really great way to showcase what we've been doing for years."
As Winick concludes, "That is the great expression of what social media can do; it can get you up close to a gown that only one of them exists; that only a couple of hundred people in the world are going to see it. You are so close you can touch it.