Mini Bio: Can you give me a few sentences on your career history and your current role at Ford Models?
I started working at Ford as a graduate student in New York University by scanning model books for what was then a nascent Fordmodels.com. After graduating with a Master of Arts from NYUs John W. Draper Interdisciplinary Masters Program in Humanities and Social Thought, I carried on retouching and wrangling images for Ford. In 2007 I transitioned into Fords media business, which after several fits and starts devolved into what broadly can be described as their social media platform encompassing the Ford Models Blog, Twitter and Facebook. I daily write everything that appears on the blog and by extension all that happens for better or worse on the Twitter. I enjoy a tremendous amount of freedom and backing from my employers, which I have graciously accepted and used to create a digital presence befitting of the agency founded by Eileen and Jerry Ford in 1946.
When you’re Tweeting no holds barred to the entire Fashion industry, do you ever worry that you might offend some people?
No. I have always assumed our audience to be sophisticated enough to appreciate my tweets for Ford. Our followers always have the right to unfollow, which in the past I have been at pains to encourage, should they not be jazzed about the Ford Twitter. So long as high-profile fashion brands have people live tweeting about Gossip Girl and award shows of any kind I am not worried about Ford offending anyone.
Which Ford models are getting the most love via social media?
Crystal Renn and Francisco Lachowski.
Recently you reached out to other agency’s social media experts to try and bridge the gap, and all the agents started following each other. What was your motivation?
I am not sure all agents are following each other, but I can accurately say in the New York market that Ford Models and Marilyn Model Management now follow each other on Twitter. For some time it bothered me that within the industry, despite the fact that almost everyone knows each other (from agents to models), there existed an unspoken enmity in social media quarters.
I read other model agency blogs in New York (OK, look, very few even have words), so why not also follow them on Twitter? After some olive branch encouragement from Marilyn, I did just that. It started innocently enough by me asking Twitter, Are there any models that are good at Twitter other than the fine models we are already following? Dont even care if theyre ours. Unfortunately, the responses, although enthusiastic, yielded no model Twitters even half as good as bunnyBISOUS (Julia Frakes) whom we follow despite her being a model at Next. Frustrated, I then tweeted Imma flip the script one of these days and follow all NY agencies just to weird them out. All fun, all good. It was at that point that the woman behind the Marilyn Twitter tweeted at Ford, admitting that she follows us on her personal Twitter and had always wanted to as the Marilyn Twitter. It was at that point that I started followed Marilyn and vice versa. Turns out the woman behind Marilyn is a good friend of my colleague.
Who are your favorite people to follow on twitter? Please list their twitter names and tell us why?
In alphabetical order:
1. @bunnyBISOUS Model Julia Frakes effectively ruins it for almost any other model on Twitter because she is so adept at the medium. Shes clearly very smart and makes our All Friends column in TweetDeck worth reading.
2. @COACD Casting director Douglas Perrett of casting agency COACD, Inc. has a wit with which I identify. He is also one of Fords very few regular interlocutors within fashion. I think hes trying to seduce me.
3. @diplo Funny, irreverent, deliberately misleading, Diplos tweets were an early inspiration for the Ford Twitter. The first of two interviews I did with Diplo for the Ford Models Blog that I personally arranged through Twitter and which effectively gave the lie to public relations being a viable 21st century profession.
4. @mrdavehill Dave Hill is a comedian with whom Ford Models regularly shares a jape usually about him threatening to leave Ford for another agency. Dave Hill does not have a contract with Ford.
5. @THECULTUREOFME Jeff Meltz is a tireless events photographer, writer, party organizer and curator of his music, arts, awesome, etc. Web site The Culture of Me. I got to know him through his picking up the crazy music interviews I was doing for the Ford Models Blog, and turns out hes well adept at the Twitter, see #rando, #bustweets.
6. @TheV Nicholas Veit and I met during the Diplo Suit Measurements video shoot I produced. At the time he was working for record label Mad Decent. Turns out he has an incredible fashion sense (wears Rick Owens, enough said) and a solid Twitter persona. I often retweet TheV for tweets I could never tweet firsthand as Ford. Hes the one person I would gladly entrust to run the Ford Twitter were my thumbs to fall off.
Who are your favorite friends on Twitter, and provide a short explanation as to why.
1. @ChaunceyCC DJ. I enjoy Chaunceys inimitable observations of life in San Francisco and on occasional touring. There is almost nothing I do not love about Chauncey in general and Chauncey on Twitter in particular.
2. @heems Rapper from group @dasracist. Met Heems through El-P (see below) and whilst creating a video for the Ford Models Blog. He is funny, irreverent, and above all intelligent. I liberally borrow lines from Heems about how to pronounce Lanvin.
3. @janefeltes Jane is a producer for This American Life and an appreciator of some of my sharper (OK, catty) observations on the Twitter.
4. @nicoleee3 Nicole is a stylist who is the mastermind behind Shoelust. We met last September during Fashion Week in New York. Shes one of the very few fashion people whom I follow that I know and genuinely like.
5. @therealelp Rapper/producer/cat lover. El-P brings his paranoid, abrasive cuddliness to each and every one of his tweets. He was one of the reasons I personally joined Twitter. I adopted his retweet & respond style. #Respek.
Why is it so important for a brand to engage with their fans?
If a brand doesnt engage their fans on Twitter, then their competitors will, OK, might engage them some day. I find the passivity of most brands on Twitter to be deeply underwhelming. Either play to the strengths of the medium by engaging with the fans through retweeting, responding, following, etc. or close shop.
What are some of the dumbest questions you get from aspiring models?
Anything that can be answered by first going to fordmodels.com, which lists office locations, a link to the Ford Models Blog and also our online picture submission form. Beyond the basics, any questions about whether a person has a chance at modeling are well daft. Although am not a model scout, but I have tweeted that appealing to us [Ford] for a contract via Twitter is like showing up to an interview with their rsum on a bar napkin.
What would the people who follow your tweets be surprised to know about you?
I wrote my masters thesis about the role that language plays in the field of science called astrobiology.
Why and when do you unfollow someone?
There are several good reasons to unfollow someone. Firstly, if a person follows zero Twitters, then I will either not follow them in the first place or unfollow them if it later comes to my attention. Twitter is a social ecosystem and if someone chooses simply to take from it, then undercuts the contributions made by others. There are plenty of Twitters I would love to follow as Ford, but so long as they follow zero Twitters they wont be getting Fords follow.
Excessive live tweeting about TV has also been a tipping point for me in unfollowing some Twitters. Who bloody has the time to watch TV let alone tweet about it?
The other type of Twitter I have unfollowed are those that exclusively use Twitter as a dumping ground for their blog links. There are plenty of incredibly talented people, such as photographer Scott Schuman of The Sartorialist, who are crap at Twitter. Schumans Twitter is nothing but an RSS for his excellent blog. I already have Google Reader so why should I follow his Twitter?
The final yardstick I use to measure any Twitter is what I think of as the five minute elevator test. Ask myself, Could I spend five minutes trapped in an elevator with a person without losing my mind? Read a persons tweets and think about this thought exercise and hit the unfollow button as soon as you cant take it any longer.
There are far too many rubbish Twitters that are rewarded simply for a reputation earned in another medium. If they cant also hack it on Twitter, then they should be summarily unfollowed. This is true of many, many fashion Twitters that Ford simply does not follow.
That said, not every Twitter is for everyone and that is what makes Twitter exciting. The more personalities are allowed to emerge, then the more exciting a resource Twitter becomes.
You’re very good about responding to fans and retweeting, what’s your philosophy behind the all-inclusive feeling you’ve given the Ford Twitter?
A majority of the fun that can be had on Twitter involves interacting with people. Retweeting with comment is the single most effective way to get a conversation started and sustain it. Too many brands dont interact with their followers on Twitter.
Are there any models at Ford who have strong Twitter followings or are just plain interesting to follow?
There are some models with Ford who are on Twitter such as, but not limited to, @IsaacCarew (Isaac Carew), @K8Dillon (Kate Dillon), @theashleygraham (Ashely Graham), and @ultramegalore (Hannelore Knuts), but unfortunately there are also a larger number of fake model Twitters purporting to be models who they are not. For the record, Crystal Renn and Francisco Lachowski are not on Twitter.
Describe a Ford model in 140 characters or less, you choose the model…
Hannelore Knuts, that statuesque Belgian who boasts an iconic reputation, features in some of my favorite stories, but never tweets enough.
What inspires you?
Honesty and irreverence.
How often do you Tweet in a day?
Are you kidding? Way too many times.
Crystal Renn. Photo: Paola Kudacki, Harper’s Bazaar; Francisco Lachowski. Photo: Omar Macciavelli