It’s almost hard to believe, but when America’s Next Top Model premiered in 2003 on UPN -- yes, that was
a network until 2006 -- there were no major social media platforms. In fact,
social media as we know it didn’t even exist yet.
Facebook didn’t launch until 2004. Twitter followed two
years later, with platforms like Tumblr (2007), Instagram (2010), Pinterest
(2010), Snapchat (2011) and Vine (2013) to come over the next decade.
While Tyra Banks has always tried to keep America’s Next Top Model relevant -- introducing
new challenges and themes to fit the ever-evolving definition of a model or
Tyra’s own needs -- social media wasn’t a major component of the show until
cycle 19, when the public was allowed to vote and Bryanboy was added as a
social media correspondent.
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“The reason we’re still on the air is we’re always looking
for ways to push the envelope,” Tyra said
By cycle 22, which Nyle DiMarco would eventually win, the
contestants were competing in social media-inspired challenges, from
hashtag-themed photoshoots to “living photos” created by Flixel -- a company Tyra
invested in and featured heavily in cycle 21. Tyra scoured Instagram to find
would-be contestants with the best selfies and biggest followings. There was
even the web-only The Comeback Series,
which allowed audiences to vote on Facebook for which model they wanted to
return to the competition.