I am not a social media star, nor am I an “influencer.” I have 336 followers on my Instagram account and I believe that most of them are spammy weight loss and/or sexbot accounts, which is why I’m insanely curious as to how someone like Kylie Jenner promotes her brand on Instagram.
This is why I decided that it would be a great idea to manually scroll back on her timeline to the beginning of the year to build an analysis on everything that she posted on the photo-based social sharing platform in 2016. It took me three hours, two Advil, one coffee and a Google Doc to sift through all of the pictures and their captions from January to December, but if I’m being honest, the only disappointing thing about this experience was that I was not teleported via technology to Calabasas at the end of it all.
If I’m still being honest, my only plan in entering my research was to count all of the photos that were labeled “#ad” — a hashtag that discloses that there is a paid business relationship behind a social post that involves product endorsement. The Kardashian-Jenner family was specially called out in 2016 by Truth in Advertising, a nonprofit consumer advocacy organization dedicated to protecting consumers from deceptive advertisements, when over 100 posts of theirs were not marked as ads. The watchdog group threatened to lodge a complaint against the Kardashians, which is why we now see #ad deliberately incorporated into the text of their captions. Out of all of her Instagram posts in 2016 (as of Dec. 16), I counted that she only tagged 25 photos with this hashtag for products including SecretCloset.net, PureLeef body-enhancing products, FitTea, SugarBearHair vitamins, Lokai jewelry, HiSmile teeth whitening kits, a Waist Trainer.
Then there were the #PumaAds that were linked with her Puma campaign, of which she posted 12. Of her apparel collections, including her Pacsun line with Kendall Jenner, their swimwear with Topshop, and Kylie’s own KylieShop, she posted a combined total of 28 photos that were not indicated with the endorsement hashtag. Her seven Sinful Colors nail polish posts (almost too perfect) were also labeled at #SinfulCollabs. Other intermittent endorsement posts that were not explicitly paid ads included mentions of Kocktails with Khloé (RIP), #HerCalvins, Kanye West’s music and fashion line, and Kris Jenner. A report from Forbes in November of 2016 estimated that Kylie earned approximately $18 million from social media endorsements. Not bad for a 19-year-old.
Kylie’s Instagram account distanced itself from those of other influencers her age, instead presenting her as an executive of her own brand, which she is, with Kylie Cosmetics. My tally showed that approximately 142 posts were deliberate ads for Kylie Cosmetics and her Kylie Jenner Lip Kit, the latter of which only debuted at the end of 2015 and frequently sells out online in minutes when new shades are announced.
Ads aside, Kylie was a proponent of continuing her public stance against bullying by sharing brave stories that were sent to her by her fans, which is an appreciated distribution of a wealth that isn’t monetary. She also appears to be a great friend to her ride-or-dies and a pretty good sister, too.
Here’s to another year of realizing stuff and building your brand wherever ads are sold.
Kylie Jenner Poses with Fans Before Opening of Her Popup Shop
Kylie Jenner Shows Off Her Midriff While Out to Lunch with Tyga in Beverly Hills