Gena Kaufman, Director of Social Media at major brands (including Vogue & Elle)

Get to know Gena, who has run social media for some of your favorite major brands.
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Gena is as charming as she is sassy, as witty as she is endearing. To know Gena is to be charmed by her, and you don't need to know her personally to be let in on her adventures - she shares them with her audience across social channels. And don't take our word for it, she's run social media for some major brands (including Vogue, Elle and Glamour). Get to know her a bit more, below.

Tell us a little bit about yourself (and you can start at the beginning!) - how did you find yourself running social media at major brands like Vogue & Elle?

Through a whirlwind of career changes! I actually graduated law school and was working at an insurance company for four years to start my career, but I really wasn’t happy doing that. When some big industry changes coincided with a big breakup, I took advantage of a voluntary layoff to change career paths in a huge way. After spending a month in Paris processing my feelings, I moved into writing, starting as a dating and relationships writer for Glamour.com (a natural fit for the newly brokenhearted and single!). From there, I transitioned easily into social media, because I liked writing but what I really liked was getting my finger on the pulse of an audience—what they liked, what they hated, what they pretended they hated but couldn’t get enough of (the Kardashians). 

"I liked writing, but what I really liked was getting my finger on the pulse of an audience."

What’s something that surprised you as you transitioned into a career in this industry?

Social media is full of surprises every day! It’s such a relatively new world, especially as a profession, and it completely changes all the time, so you never get used to it. Working in social media as a career has certainly taken me places I never expected—from a whirlwind 3-day trip to New Zealand to spend time at choreographer Parris Goebbel’s studio to watching Lady Gaga’s epic performance on the Met Gala red carpet, it’s been a wild ride. 

Your personal instagram is so much fun to follow - even if we hadn’t met in person, I would have such a good sense of your charm and your wit from following you from afar. How did you find your digital voice?

I was so lucky to have that first writing job at Glamour.com! First of all, it was a rare time and place on the Internet where we had an incredible, supportive audience, and at the same time, I had editors who really encouraged me to write like myself, rather than a brand voice. We were all about building personal connections with the audience, so I just focused on writing like I would to a friend—and I think that stuck with me as I started focusing on my own social media channels more and more. Despite all its issues, social media is something that really brings me a lot of joy, so I have fun with it! I love to connect with old friends I haven’t seen since high school and strangers I’ve never met but who share my obsession with Love is Blind or finding the best carbs in Paris. 

You travel all over, both for work and for leisure - how do you find the best places to explore?

Frankly, I just copy all the cool people I know! I have so many friends who are great adventurers and they inspire me. On a brand level, I also love to see recommendations from the New York Times, Conde Nast Traveler, Culture Trip, and more—but then I usually have to turn to friends to be able to travel in the way I want but on a realistic budget. 

Is also how you treat exploring Brooklyn and NYC?

I grew up in small town Ohio where there aren’t a lot of fun restaurants, cultural experiences, or exciting things to do. My mom took me on a birthday trip to New York when I was 13 and I knew immediately I’d live here one day. It’s such a joy to live in a city that has more to discover than you could ever actually do! So yes, it kind of feels like a constant travel adventure deciding how to spend my free time here. Again, I copy friends all the time—and then for local guidance, I’m a New York Magazine loyalist and read Grub Street religiously for food news. There’s also no purer joy to me than a free copy of Time Out—I will literally take photos of pages I like to add to my lists for city exploration to-dos. 

"Living in NYC kind of feels like a constant travel adventure deciding how to spend my free time."

Who, or what, are some of your favorite Instagram accounts to follow? (and why?)

For food inspiration, I adore @bonappetitmag (and some of their individual editors as well!). 

For advice, my friend (and genius former intern!) @lauriseirl, who works on social for Refinery29, has a graphic series on Instagram with tips on how to navigate sticky situations, both professionally and personally. It’s both smart and hilarious, and I love it.

For fun, @pablo.rochat does these funny, creative, fascinating things...I don’t even know how to describe them. They’re like art meets memes. It’s always a delight when a new post comes into my feed. 

For pure joy, @lizzobeating, of course. 


Thanks so much, Gena! Pirosmani is on our "Restaurants to Try" list, thanks to you.


Discover Gena's Lists
March 9, 2020

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