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Sure, the royalty claim seems misplaced at first glance: the 59-year-old doesn’t front an online army that even remotely rivals her famous daughter’s, though the momager does hold strong with 5.5 million followers. However, the evidence of Jenner’s reach is undeniable: Jenner rules the Kardashian-Jenner court by managing the massive social media footprints of her offspring — easily the most followed family on all of social media. With the rising influence of Instagram, the platform is having a prodigious impact on the family’s fame, finances and business strategies, and Jenner is the savvy queen pulling the strings.
Her social oversight includes the Instagram accounts of her kids — Kim, Kourtney, Khloe and Rob Kardashian; Kendall and Kylie Jenner — who have a combined following of 110.2 million (including hers) and rising. She dubs their loyal fans “ride or die,” and credits them with following her family from the small screen to their smartphones. THR recently snagged a spot in Jenner’s ever-busy schedule for a phone chat about all things Instagram.
Instagram has had a huge impact on Hollywood. How would you qualify exactly what that impact is, especially on the business side?
It’s definitely something that has changed the landscape of advertisers and business in general as we know it. It’s a way to engage someone instantly with photo. It’s so powerful. You don’t have to go out and produce something and wait six months for it to break or launch — if you have an idea, it can be photographed, Instagrammed and launched. It is the perfect marriage between the advertising world and the client — or the celebrity, if you will, the person who is endorsing the product. It’s an amazing way to send a very powerful message in living color. You can see exactly what it is that that someone is bringing your attention to. It’s really fascinating to me how powerful social media can be, on both sides. For us, you can follow what the girls are doing and what my family is doing, moment by moment in real time. You don’t have to wait until next Sunday to see another [E!’s Keeping Up With the Kardashians] episode that was filmed a month ago.
Stars are known to be very protective of their Instagram accounts, much more so than Facebook and Twitter. Is that true in your house?
The girls are very protective of their Instagram accounts because they really enjoy Instagram on a personal level, and they only want to do something that feels good and not like they are trying to sell somebody something — because that’s not the case. And Kim specifically doesn’t really like to use it for business unless it’s once in a blue moon or if it’s for one of her products. She loves the social side of it and communicating with her fans. But these days, if I do a deal for something for Kendall or Kylie, part of that deal includes a specific amount of Instagrams or tweets or Facebook posts in order for the client to be satisfied they are getting everything they can out of what Kendall or Kylie bring to the table. We use it very strategically for our own companies, too, by the way — it’s not like we are just throwing Kardashian Kollection all over all day long.
Are these six- or seven-figure deals?
It’s a little bit of both, depending on what they’re doing and whom it’s for. Every deal is very different. It’s very specific to that product and that brand. We’re pretty particular because it has to be something that makes sense and something that the girls or the family uses. Doing any kind of endorsement deal these days is navigated differently than it used to be, but social media deals are inside the heart of doing any kind of deal with the girls. It’s so powerful — Kendall can post something and moments later, 500,000 people like it. It’s wild. The girls have great value in bringing great awareness to whatever brand they are promoting or whatever it is they are working on and whatever they choose to put their name behind. It’s an enormous push.
But you have to be very careful, right?
If you’re trying to sell somebody something all day long, that’s not cool. I don’t think anyone wants to go on someone’s site and all you’re doing all day long is saying “Buy this” or “Buy that.” It is structured so that we don’t shove it down their throat. It’s very organic. We only put our names on things that we truly, truly believe in. There’s always going to be haters who chime in and say, “Oh you got paid to say that.” Sometimes I’ll write back and say no. Or I’ll hashtag “#didntgetpaidforthat.”
Do you have any examples of that?
I am pretty honest and really organic about what I do. I can give you a great example — and you can look it up on my Instagram. One day, it took me three hours to clean my pantry. I wanted it to be so perfect. I have an OCD thing going on with my drawers. I lined everything up and I Instagrammed a picture and the next day I got a huge package with a beautiful letter from Kraft foods that said something like, “Your pantry is beautiful and here’s some more Kraft Macaroni & Cheese,” because they had seen my Kraft Macaroni & Cheese in the photo. I didn’t get paid for that. It was the cutest, I framed the letter and put it in my pantry. It’s amazing who is looking at your Insta. It’s interesting because it gives somebody a bird’s eye view, like a voyeur.
Speaking of voyeurs, who do you follow?
I follow some really cool accounts that I love. I follow decorators and my florist Jeff Leatham to get a day-by-day of what he’s doing in Paris and how gorgeous it looks. I get inspiration from him, and he’s not trying to sell something, just sharing what he’s done that day. It puts a big smile on [my] face. I follow a couple of accounts that are all about clean eating. I follow accounts featuring beautiful homes that give me inspiration — like, “Oh my God, look at that room, I love the paint color!” I follow magazines like Vogue and designers like Riccardo Tisci [Givenchy] and Olivier Rousteing [Balmain] and Marc Jacobs — all the fun designers I love. It’s inspiration for me because I never stop working and I don’t really go shopping.
One thing that I’ve noticed in looking at my Instagram feed is that very few people smile in their photos anymore, including famous people and even my own friends. Have you noticed that trend?
Yes, and it’s fun to watch people do their faces and their selfies. It’s a phenomenon. It’s changed the way people present themselves to the world. I think a lot of people raised the bar and raised the game in terms of their personal appearance because there are so many cameras out and about these days. The girls love social media, obviously. Kim is really good at it. She taught the rest of them very early on.
Another thing everyone has been schooled on is the rise in online bullying. How do you deal with it?
Bullying is the most troublesome and worrisome to me. I have four grandchildren who are going to grow up in this social world. I don’t want them to have all this negative energy — it’s so ridiculous and unkind. I can’t imagine going on somebody’s feed and saying something ugly. I wasn’t raised that way. It’s beyond anything I can comprehend.
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