Vanity Fair's 'Tweethearts' Offer Narrow View of America

There's an Entire World on Twitter You're Missing Out on

By Published on .

Rochelle Valsaint
Rochelle Valsaint
Earlier this week @vanityfairmag experienced a twitter storm of backlash from the diversity community regarding "America's Tweethearts," piece printed in the February issue of the magazine. The piece was led with a photo of famous Twitterers, all white, all women, wearing little more than trench coats. The caption included their professions and number of followers on Twitter:

"From left to right: social strategist Julia Roy (31,000 followers), publicist Sarah Evans (33,000 followers), travel journalist Stefanie Michaels (1.4 million followers), actress Felicia Day (1.6 million followers), lifecaster Sarah Austin (24,000 followers), and marketer Amy Jo Martin (1.2 million followers).
Here's a sampling of Some of the notable backlash directed at the magazine:

From @BlackWeb20: "@VanityFairMag #Tweethearts Are a Clear Miss . . . (via @digitalsista) #lame"

From @digitalsista: "@vanityfairmag w/articles like that you would think that there isn't a single #woc [woman of color] that isn't already a celebrity using #socialmedia." And "seriously, if @barackobama & @oprah are the models of @blcksm [black social media] then we have a huge problem to overcome in POV of diversity in #socialmedia."

From @anildash: "Vanity Fair runs fawning 'tweethearts' stories like But anyone can see black culture rules Twitter via trending topics."

First, let me say that the magazine is to be commended for connecting its established media platform to new media peers. But, I also think there was a missed opportunity to highlight how understanding the rules of new-media engagement and using tools such as Twitter can help people (and brands) go from unconnected unknowns to well-known, well-connected users with thousands, tens-of-thousands and sometimes hundreds-of-thousands of followers.

More obviously, the opportunity was also missed to show the diversity in twilebrity ranks and what they are using their status and newly attained power for.

Then I got to thinkin' who would I consider my twilebrity role models as I toddle my way into the Twitter game.

To that end, I have developed my list of diverse "twilebrities" to follow. I look to these role models as I work to figure out the hard parts in this new space.

I suggest you add them to your community too, on twitter or off. I am confident that engagement with them will add to your brand's twitter game. And their knowledge of happenings in media, marketing, politics and culture will also inform your diverse marketing communications strategy. So, pay attention.

Rochelle Valsaint is CEO of TWS The UnAgency, a full-service marketing communications that brings diverse professionals, their perspectives and industry experience to the advertising, marketing, communications and media needs of brands and businesses that understand the value of cultural and contextual relevance in this era of the changing face of America. Follow her @mcmtownhall.
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