Editorial

What Launching Vogue On Snapchat Taught Me About Gen Z

By perspective
11 Oct 2018

Like a cool older sister, the Snapchat Discover editions of British Vogue, Vogue Paris and Vogue en español are bringing fashion news and more to a younger generation – and they're lapping it up. Vogue International's Snapchat editor takes stock of the Gen Z audience.

In the summer of 2017, Vogue Paris and British Vogue arrived on Snapchat Discover. “We moved overnight from not reaching a Gen Z audience to hitting 11 million-plus per month,” says Sarah Marshall, Vogue International’s head of audience growth, who spearheaded the launch from Condé Nast International’s office in London. A Spanish-language edition, run in collaboration with Vogue Spain and Vogue Mexico, has since joined the lineup.

Sarah Schijen, Vogue International’s first-ever Snapchat editor, was charged with reimagining Vogue Paris, British Vogue and Vogue en español for a young, mobile-first audience. She talks to Lauren Indvik about how Vogue came to launch on Snapchat, what it takes to put together an edition and what surprises her about Gen Z.

Vogue’s role on Snapchat

On Snapchat Discover, you are essentially publishing a magazine, rather than bits of content to be interspersed on a newsfeed such as Twitter or Facebook. Publishing an edition of a heritage brand on what is probably one of the most forward-thinking social platforms out there right now was — and is — a really exciting idea to me.

Naturally, we’re the fashion authority on the platform. We show [readers] that fashion can be a positive, relatable, fun topic to follow as part of their weekly news pickup. We also cover trends and style; beauty and wellness; celebrity and entertainment; models and their lives. We do try to keep an eye on the calendar — if there’s a specific event happening, we like to make sure our audience can get that news from us, through the Vogue lens.

 

 

 

Getting to launch

We didn’t want to make Vogue look gimmicky or stray too far from its DNA. Fortunately the structure of Snapchat Discover editions, with a minimum of 10, 10-second snaps, combined with Vogue’s unparalleled visual archive, really did the work for us. Editorially, we’ve been able to push into areas Vogue might not traditionally cover — periods, sleep cycles, price points relevant to our audience’s age. One of our readers described us as a cool older sister they’d turn to for fashion and beauty advice. That, for me, meant we’d succeeded in getting our tone broadly right.

The audience

Most of our readers won’t have encountered Vogue online, much less in print; their concept of Vogue is almost entirely based on what we present. About 70 per cent of our audience is aged 13 to 24.

I’ve been pleasantly surprised at how much they want to learn about fashion. Our “Meet the Designer” series on creative directors — where they studied, what steps they’ve taken to get to the top — has been really popular. Fashion shows, however, haven’t resonated. Our audience prefers styling advice or news about their favourite models.

 

 

The team

We’re made up of two designers, two producers, one social fashion writer, a senior producer and me, the editor.

 

The process

Putting together an edition varies by market. For Vogue en español, it starts with a Monday afternoon meeting between myself, the production team, the Vogue Mexico team and the Vogue Spain team. Both markets propose articles they think will be relevant to that Friday’s edition, and we’ll discuss what’s right — not just for age but also for each region. For example, we’re currently debating when to start talking about winter dressing, given a large part of our audience is in Latin America.

Once we pin down the stories, we think about what the edition will look like. We don’t want all bottom snaps, where you swipe up to read a story. Some are more visually led, some are quizzes or polls which are more interactive, others are short and punchy. We then script the edition visually, breaking those snaps into small production pieces that go on to a designer, back to us for copy checking, and finally on to the markets to ensure the language works for both Mexico and Spain. Then we put it all together in the CMS and hit publish — all while working on three weekly editions for British Vogue and Vogue Paris. We’re busy!

 

 

Snapchat’s future

Despite the negative press, the data tells us that the audience for Snapchat is still strong. The brand safety offered by Discover is also fairly unique — essentially you are publishing an edition of your title, structured and presented as you choose.

Key takeaways

If I had to boil down my experience to three learnings, I’d say, first, don’t underestimate the knowledge and enthusiasm for fashion of the Gen Z audience. They know their subject and are hungry for more. Second, long-form works on social media. Give the audience an interesting take on a subject and they will read it — it’s in the data. Third, fashion doesn’t always need to be serious. You can have fun with it, too.

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