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Twitter and the September Issue: A Comparative Study

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Lady Gaga, who has nearly four million Twitter followers, covered last September's Vogue. The issue was a whopping success. Jennifer Lawrence, who does not even have a Twitter account, is covering the glossy this year. How will this September's issue fare in comparison? Let's recap.

Last September, the two biggest American fashion glossies selected rather surprising cover stars to front the year's big fashion issues. As you may recall, an extensively photoshopped Lady Gaga landed on the cover of Conde Nast's Vogue, and a sleeked-up Katy Perry popped up on Hearst's top fashion book, Elle.

From a fashion perspective, these were strange picks. Though Vogue's choice of Gaga was probably tied to the September 2012 launch of her first fragrance (and/or the giant ad placed in the print book), she is one meat dress beyond the ability to shock or even interest anyone in what she's wearing these day. Katy Perry's super-produced candy-coated look is no more relevant. By fall 2012, spinning lollipop bras and striped crinolines felt about as fresh as dip-dyed hair. The fashion influence of both stars had certainly peaked by the time they were tapped to headline 2012's biggest fashion moment.

Graphic for Racked by Julia Liao

Aside from being slightly past their prime, one thing Lady Gaga and Katy Perry have in common is that they both boast a stratospheric number of Twitter followers: 38.6 million for Gaga, and 38.3 million for Perry. (To put that number into perspective, Vogue has less than 1 million monthly subscribers, according to the magazine's media kit.)

That's a fan base that Vogue appears to have benefitted from. Gaga personally "leaked" her cover on the internet, tweeting a photo of it and posting it on her Little Monsters fan website. "Sorry Anna but the underground kids deserve it," she wrote. The post got nearly 2000 comments.

Other magazines also seemed to favor stars with an extensive social following last September. Victoria Beckham (6.3 million Twitter followers) covered Glamour, Emma Watson (8.3 million) covered T, Eva Longoria (6.2 million) covered Lucky, and Sofia Vergara (4.6 million) covered Allure.

It was a move that paid off, at least in Vogue's case. Last year's September issue was a hit with advertisers, breaking all kinds of ad page records. The resulting issue was so gigantic, it was too big to fit some mailboxes and it's heft even elicited complaints from postal workers.

The issue was was a hit with readers, too: it was by far the year's best newsstand seller.

So it's fascinating that this season, magazines went in an entirely different direction, as this September's crop of cover stars is noticeably absent from social media. Jennifer Lawrence, who will cover Vogue, doesn't even have a Twitter account, nor does Jennifer Aniston, who will be gracing Glamour's cover, Rooney Mara, who will cover T, Jennifer Garner (Allure), or Blake Lively (Lucky).

In fact, this September's biggest social media stars are two models. Kate Upton has about 1 million Twitter followers and will grace Elle's September issue, while muse-of-the-moment Cara Delevigne clocks in with about 800,000 followers and will cover W.

In other words, this September will see a return to tried-and-true models and actresses with proven newsstand appeal. It will be interesting to see if that strategy works as well as a single tweet from Lady Gaga.

· Vogue's September Issue, by the Numbers [Racked]
· Taylor Swift: Still Not Very Good at Selling Magazines [Racked]