Taste makers: One day you’re in, and the next you’re out

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After 10 seasons of Project Runway, Heidi Klum has become much more than a former Victoria’s Secret model who always seems to be pregnant. Besides a model, Klum is also a mother, a TV personality, a designer, an author, and a philanthropist.

Klum’s twitter bio is short and sweet: “Model, TV Personality and Entrepreneur” and includes a link to her professional website. She only has 898 tweets but has over one million followers, while following 70 people herself. She tweets several times a day, nearly every day. The majority of her tweets include some type of multi media, usually a picture or sometimes a link. She does use some hashtags, but they are mostly self-promotional. One tag she uses frequently is #trulyscrumptious, the name of her children’s collection which is sold at Babies R Us.

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Another tag she uses is #heidiklumhalloween (which I suspect she will be using more frequently in the next few days). Klum is notorious for her Halloween parties and her extravagant costumes. Klum doesn’t interact much with other users with replies, but she does retweet everyone who mentions her. Occasionally, she will give a shout out or congratulate a friend, like when she wished Kim Kardashian happy birthday. This is the only indication that it truly is Klum tweeting. With so many followers, the issue of context collapse is present. Not only are Klum’s friends following her, but colleagues, industry professionals, as well as lots and lots of fans. Klum uses what Marwick and boyd call the “lowest-common denominator effect” and posts things that will appeal to the broadest group of followers, her fans. But Marwick and boyd also note that users with “100,000+ followers [suggest] that they imagined their audience as a fan base or community,” which Klum definitely does. Her twitter is a stream not of what Heidi the person is doing, but what Heidi Klum the brand is doing.

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Klum’s Facebook is basically her twitter+. Instead of linking one to the other, she posts all the pictures she tweeted as wall posts, and includes the tweet as the caption (hashtags and all). If she tweeted pictures from an event, the pictures will be put together into an album. She also has albums of editorial work she has done. On Facebook, she posts a lot of behind the scenes videos, most of which are taken from her AOL page. Klum also has a contest section, which her other sites do not seem to have. In her posts and pictures, she always tags the people, like the Lifetime and Project Runway fan pages on a picture of last week’s finale. There is a high level of engagement with her 1.3 millions fans. Most posts have several thousand likes, with a few hundred comments. I

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t’s interesting that her about section is blank, though she has filled in some events on timeline. Most are major events in her modeling career, like her first magazine cover and her first Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show. She also provides links to her Spotify, MySpace, IMDB, Vevo, Simfy and Deezer (not yet available in the US), but not her twitter account.

Klum’s professional website (which should be noted, is in German) has six sections: current news, gallery, video, shop, projects and bio. Gallery is a large photo gallery of all her work divided into six categories, including Victoria’s Secret, Halloween and Red Carpet. The video tab is similarly divided into Behind the Scenes, Project Runway, Interviews and Victoria’s Secret. Projects has links to all her current projects, including Project Runway, her fragrance and her two shoe collections. Finally, shop has links where you can purchase her perfume and sunglasses. Overall, the site seems a little out dated, but it is a German website, and Klum has been based in the US since 1992. None of her personality comes across like her twitter or Facebook, since there are no posts. It’s also interesting that the link to heidiklum.com is not listed on her Facebook, but it is on twitter.

However, Klum’s AOL website is the complete opposite of her German site. The AOL site is updated daily and is maintained by a team of experts in fitness, beauty, fashion, crafts, health, etc. There are a few sections which Klum contributes to, such as her I Love section, which features products she currently loves, ranging from jewelry to junk food. She also posts Look of the Day, with links of where to purchase the items. The other sections are written by her team of experts and include articles like 10 Tips for Healthy Living to How to Create the Perfect Workspace.

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Klum’s personality comes across the most on the AOL site. Unlike twitter and Facebook, there is no set profile. Instead of the typical favorite movie, favorite music, etc. categories, Klum can choose her own, like Parenting, Lifestyle, Fitness & Nutrition, etc. Marwick states that fixed profiles are problematic because ‘rigid profile structure encourages the user to present him or herself in a way that is partly constructed by the application, not the user.”

While both websites aren’t social networking services as Marwick defines them (“allows users to publicly articulate and map their relationships between people, organizations, and group.”), they are consistent with Klum’s online identitiy, which Liu would classify as a prestige statement. Every platform is very consistent with each other and shows Klum’s best side.

It’s also interesting that each of Klum’s social media networks is separate and stand-alone. She uses each site differently to post content appropriate with the site’s affordances. On twitter you can find lots of pictures, but little interaction. Facebook is where Klum really interacts with her fans. She asks her fans questions and posts contests as well as videos and photo albums.

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One comment

  1. So interesting! I’ve always thought Heidi Klum was one of those enigmatic figures as far as interaction with the world outside of Project Runway. I think it’s fascinating, especially in light of at least the past two years’ worth of innovation in and increased popularity of social networking sites, that Klum isn’t really using Facebook or Twitter to its fullest potential. Sure, she seems to tweet often, and her Facebook profile is updated, but I feel like the lack of her interaction on Twitter with others–perhaps one of the major affordances of the technology itself–is indicative of her merely self-promotional presence. Without trying to sound too harsh, I’d posit from the information you so clearly exhibit that Heidi Klum, at least on the Internet, is chiefly a brand. Judging by the fact that her seemingly most comprehensive American online profile proudly offers Heidi’s “I Love” products, or by her twitpic clearly plugging her Babies R Us line, it seems that Heidi the person is more of a televisual character and Heidi the online presence is an equally vibrant but distinct product to be interacted with and consumed by the audience interested in engaging with Klum in any sense. Do you think this is a trend, and that with the continuing popularity of social media, we’ll see a significant shift in celebrities from personality to commodity?

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