Meet Some of the Hardest-Working People in Fashion

Photo:

Adam Katz Sinding of Le 21ème

As a fashion editor, I’ve learned over time just how vital social media can be to the success of a story and an overall brand. While my prior experience led me to see it as a fun, lighthearted addition to original content, I’ve since realized that it’s so much more than that—and that it takes a lot of work.

Although there are many challenging jobs in the fashion industry, especially those that deal with the actual production of clothing and accessories, I would argue that social media editors have it the hardest on the editorial side. It’s these ladies and gents who work the most hours (including weekends) and who the rest of the edit team depends on most in terms of their stories’ performance. Add to that the responsibilities they hold with advertisers, and you can bet they have a full plate.

But many people outside of the industry are still surprised by this, so I rounded up some of the top social editors in the game to reveal what really goes into their jobs. (Spoiler alert: It involves less sleep than the rest of us are getting, a ton of data, and a heavy dose of the Kardashians.)

Scroll down to find out what they had to say!

WHO WHAT WEAR: What are some of the reactions you get when you tell people you're a social media editor?

JULIE KOSIN: I always get a gasp, and usually a “wow” or “that’s awesome!” Don’t get me wrong—my job is amazing, but there is a lot more to it than trolling Facebook all day.

WWW: What do you actually spend your days doing? 

JK: I’m lucky because our team splits social media duties; I only oversee Facebook and Twitter. My main priorities are posting HarpersBazaar.com stories to those channels throughout the day and monitoring our traffic. In addition to that, I run the site’s unofficial “news desk,” which means I’m spending most of the day searching for news that would be of interest to the Bazaar reader and either assigning it out or writing it up myself. I’m also always working on several feature stories at any given moment.

WWW: What do you wish outsiders understood better about your job? 

JK: That being a “social media editor” is so much more than posting a link and its corresponding headline to social media channels. You need to understand what your reader wants and what’s going to entice them to click on a story or visit your site. In addition, your readership doesn’t stop existing when the workday ends. Sometimes the heaviest traffic comes from “off” hours like evenings and weekends—even overnight. All good social media editors have some sort of strategy with which they’re working to ensure social channels are constantly being updated—even when said editor isn’t officially online.

WWW: What are some of the more stressful times of year for you? 

JK: Awards season and fashion month are both very busy. Weekends don’t really exist during those times.

WWW: What has been your craziest experience on the job?

JK: Live coverage of anything—a show at NYFW, the Oscars red carpet—is always crazy but so much fun to experience. 

WWW: What do you consider your social media editor "fuel"?

JK: I live and die by The Republic of Tea’s Hi-Caf Tea. I credit it for keeping me alive through many a night of awards show coverage. A quick spritz of Diptyque’s Eau Rose doesn't hurt, either.

WHO WHAT WEAR: What are some of the reactions you get when you tell people you're a social media editor?

ELISA BENSON: When I explain that my job is to oversee all the social channels for Cosmo and Seventeen, one question I get is, "Do you also write for the magazine?” I totally get it—when people think of magazines, they think of bylines, whereas social media is much more behind the scenes. But more often people say “Oh my god, you have my DREAM job!” which reminds me how lucky I am to be doing something I love…even if it means I can’t ever put my phone down.

WWW: What do you actually spend your days doing?

EB: I have a fabulous team of smart, hilarious editors who keep our social feeds running 24/7 so that I can focus on bigger initiatives that the brand is working on. For instance, Cosmo just hosted its second annual Fun Fearless Life weekend, so part of my job was to figure out what fun social stuff we could do around the event. We had celebrities throw glitter in slow motion—like this Instagram video of Fifth Harmony—which was so Cosmo-y and delicious. We also tweeted something like 300 times and got over 4M views on our Snapchat story—my team was hustling! I also host Cosmopolitan.com’s weekly Happy Hour podcast, which is probably the thing that most closely reflects the inside of my brain.

WWW: What do you wish outsiders understood better about your job?

EB: Everyone who has a Twitter account has an opinion on social media, but maintaining a personal following is very different than maintaining one for a brand. 

WWW: What are some of the more stressful times of year for you?

EB: Awards season. I feel like I haven't watched the Oscars in years—it's just a seven-hour blur of me standing three inches from my TV and frantically tweeting photos from my phone. 

WWW: What has been your craziest experience on the job?

EB: Cosmo threw a big party in L.A. to celebrate our fiftieth birthday, and all the Kardashians—who were on the latest cover of Cosmo—were there. At one point I was standing 10 feet from them in this gorgeous Ohne Titel dress snapping them while they were cutting a birthday cake and everyone was singing. I thought, This is totally what people think life at Cosmo is like all the time. But the next day I flew home in coach, caught a weird sinus infection on the plane, returned my borrowed dress, and got to work exporting Twitter analytics to compile a report about the event.

Another standout moment for me was being embedded with the Seventeen editors the day Zayn Malik announced he was leaving One Direction. A few of the editors were crying at their desks, but we rallied and pumped out 29 stories about him in 24 hours. The social around it was a circus. 

WWW: What do you consider your social media editor "fuel”?

EB: I am obsessive about carrying a charged Mophie case in my bag at all times, and I bring a second one with me when I cover events. One of the darkest days of my social media editor life was when I paid a gazillion dollars for front-row Taylor Swift tickets and realized I'd forgotten the cord for my charger. I had 18% battery for the 1989 tour! I'll never forgive myself.

WHO WHAT WEAR: What are some of the reactions you get when you tell people you're a social media editor?

KATE WINICK: I haven't found there to be much stigma—most people are really interested in it, but very few of them have any idea what we actually do. "So, you just, like, tweet all day?" is generally the first question from anyone who doesn't work in media.

There are some brands and individuals who really understand social and how powerful it is, and some who just don't, although that approach is less and less viable as time goes on. We are definitely a bit more invisible than editors with bylines—the endless editorial perks dry up quite a bit in this role. I think social is where digital was 5–10 years ago in terms of prestige, when an inch of print coverage was miles more desirable than 3,000 words and a whole shoot online. Now, plenty of brands understand how valuable it is to have a big, gorgeous story that lives online forever instead of getting recycled along with the empty wine bottles—and social is responsible for sprinkling on the fairy dust that gets that story in front of actual eyeballs. 

WWW: What do you actually spend your days doing?

KW: I oversee all of the outgoing social content for our channels, creating posts that effectively market our content and maintaining the tone of our brand in its most interactive form. Social is really the public face of a publication. It's not really quite as simple as just "posting something on Facebook" like normal users do—there is a whole set of metrics around engagement and clicks that I'm constantly monitoring to see what kind of post we need right now, and a whole system set up to help me find the content that will perform.

But it's not all just hard numbers—I have to think really organically about what our reader might be thinking about or needing right now, and then go find or create a post that responds to that. One of the great things about this job is that at a fashion publication, you really are your own audience, so the same Mean Girls jokes and gifs that make me laugh generally get a big response from our readers, too. I also oversee an associate editor who helps out with Pinterest, Twitter, and Tumblr primarily, and who also contributes to all of our other channels, and I work with her and our director on our overall strategy and priorities.

WWW: What do you wish outsiders understood better about your job?

KW: One thing that constantly surprises everyone is just how big our jobs really are. People tend to think that there is a whole team working on social, when, in reality, for most of the magazines you read and websites you love, there are really just one or two people doing it all. I've even had readers tell me they thought it was handled by a team of interns or a bot (yes, really), which I thought was insane and funny. It is a skilled position—social is too important now to be left up to interns—but we are real people!

WWW: What are some of the more stressful times of year for you?

KW: Holidays and weekends, always. Any day we're not in the office and editors aren't creating content is a day we have to maintain our traffic via social by ourselves, something we normally have a dozen people helping us with by generating new stories. A Friday is not something I really get excited about anymore—it's a day when I have to do three days worth of work in one. I don't know any social editors who don't work on the weekends for at least some amount of time.

WWW: What has been your craziest experience on the job?

KW: Positive: When Kim Kardashian got married last summer, I was doing social for Elle and had just arrived at a massive event that we'd been planning for months when I looked at my phone and saw that the first picture of her dress had started circulating. I ran back out to catch my cab before it pulled away, told him I'd double his fare if he could get across town in less than 15 minutes, and spent the rest of the day watching our traffic hit the roof while our entire team flipped out and wrote a million posts [on the subject]. For the record, I love Kim and all the Kardashians, and despite the thousands of comments I've seen from readers over the years saying they hate them, EVERYONE clicks on them. The traffic numbers don't lie!

Both royal babies being born were similar experiences. We loved that Kate Middleton had the good manners to give birth to George in the middle of the afternoon when we were all at our desks, and it was a HUGE day for basically everyone on the Internet—people couldn't stop talking about it. I was screengrabbing the livestream of the hospital all day, and we set a new record for engagement just from those weird, blurry images of the baby and Kate in her blue dress. Charlotte was less convenient—we'd prepped DAYS in advance, knowing what it would be like, and that night I could barely sleep, woke up in a cold sweat at 3 a.m. and saw the tweet from Clarence House announcing her birth. I pushed the post live, scheduled a bunch of social, and stared at the ceiling for the next four hours texting our news editor like an insane person until everyone else was awake. It was great. 

Negative: We dealt with a controversy when I was at Elle where a tweet I wrote about a trend story was received very badly on Twitter, and all hell broke loose for a few days. Crisis management is very tough emotionally, because the tone is so personal and yet people don't really think about the fact that it's a real human being on the other end who they just told to go kill themselves. It's so easy to just be awful online. People tweet things in that kind of melee they would never say to your face. Luckily, I had a wonderful site director who was so supportive through the entire thing, and who chose to see it as an opportunity. She said, okay, we've identified a blind spot here because none of us thought that would be controversial, is there anyone on Twitter who might be able to take that platform and share their perspective with our readers? The writer we found turned out to be an incredible, fresh voice, and I can honestly say it was well worth it to go through that to have found her. It was a huge learning experience for me. You have very little room to explain yourself if something you write goes bad, and I never want to hurt anyone with what I say.  

WWW: What do you consider your social media editor "fuel"?

KW: Honestly, this is so lame, but Parsely (our analytics dashboard) is my fuel. There's literally nothing that gets me going like seeing a story start to spike after we've posted it to social. I don't drink coffee–just give me more news! 

WHO WHAT WEAR: What are some of the reactions you get when you tell people you're a social media editor?

JENNIFER DAVIS: When I first started as a social media editor two years ago, the role was much less prevalent, so reactions would range from, “You get to be on Facebook all day? Sweet!” to “That’s a job?” Now that people are starting to understand the power of social media, it’s met with enthusiasm. People are genuinely curious about what I do and think it’s a pretty cool job, which it is.

WWW: What do you actually spend your days doing?

JD: Before I get into the office, I check InStyle’s social channels and make sure that stories being published in the morning go out on Twitter and Facebook. Then after a quick scroll through Instagram, I scour the Internet for news that broke overnight and make sure we get up a 'gram of our own. We’ve grown over 40% on Instagram since last year, so it’s so exciting to see those numbers and know that our audience is expanding and engaging!

Once I get to the office, I start writing news stories, while working with the two other members of our Audience Engagement team to update and push stories out on our social channels. Between the three of us, we rotate between Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest, which leaves us time to make sure we don’t miss any trending stories that would resonate with our audience. 

Afternoons are filled with meetings and brainstorm sessions, and usually a few more posts as news breaks throughout the day. Before I go to bed each night, either someone else on the team or I will make sure that any posts that went up after work get scheduled for social. Then we start all over again! While that’s an outline, each day varies—you never know what could happen, and I’m never bored. 

WWW: What do you wish outsiders understood better about your job?

JD: That having a personal social media account is very different from managing a brand’s social media presence. It’s something that I only realized once I took this position. Of course most of us know how to tweet or Instagram, but sending out a message to such a big audience can be daunting. Plus, you’re representing something much larger than yourself, so cultivating a strong voice that fit in with the InStyle brand took practice.

WWW: What are some of the more stressful times of year for you?

JD: Awards season without question. Starting with the Golden Globes in January and finishing with the Oscars two months later, we’re go, go, go. Plus, the fall fashion shows are in February, but we’re all in it together. The office begins to feel like a home away from home—thankfully there’s always pizza around.

WWW: What has been your craziest experience on the job?

JD: Hate to be unglamorous, but most of my job is spent at my computer! Sometimes our entertainment department will have meet and greets, though, where celebrities will come in and do in-office interviews. Lately, we’ve been doing a lot of Persicopes. The first one I did by myself with musician Greg Holden was definitely nerve-wracking, but thankfully it went off with very few glitches.

WWW: What do you consider your social media editor "fuel"?

JD: Since I’m basically always glued to social, I really value my time at Equinox. I stick my iPhones in my gym bag, and forget about social media for 45 minutes. 

The other 23 hours a day, I can’t live without VSCO Cam for editing photos, and I’m a little obsessed with Kylie Jenner’s Snapchat.

What did you find most surprising about being a social media editor? Let us know in the comments, and be sure to shop our favorite phone cases!