And, likewise, Begley points out that celebrities actually have surprisingly little sway over the platform as they’re not even anywhere near the most influential people using it. “Instagram’s celebrities may reach large audiences, but our research has found that smaller-scale influencers inspire the highest engagement rates, suggesting the platform’s users are more invested in content from up-and-coming creators than superstars,” he explains. “Nano-influencers (creators with under 10k followers on their primary social channel) saw an average engagement rate of 3.27% for Instagram Reels content, and 2.65% for in-feed posts, with these figures steadily dropping across both channels as their audience sizes increased. Because smaller-scale creators boast much more engaged audiences than mega-influencers, it’s unlikely that the loss of celebrities would pose a substantial threat to Instagram’s relevance.” And, vice versa, a loss of the platform wouldn’t be a game-ender for the Kardashians either. He added, “While a significant loss of engagement on Instagram, the Kardashians’ go-to channel, would pose a challenge for the family, blockbuster brands like Kylie Cosmetics, Skims, and SKKN by Kim could weather this turbulence by doubling down on partnerships with creators on other platforms like TikTok.”
But according to Luke, it’s also time the family starts thinking well beyond the confines and flighty tech updates of the social media app that helped create them. “They have such a cult following and they’re so massive that if Instagram was deleted tomorrow, they could go on to another social media platform, and they would dominate. I think Instagram should not take that lightly that they’re committed to Instagram because of their generation.” Begley concurs, highlighting the already enormous power of TikTok on their brands, a medium which they have only just begun to tap into. “SKKN by Kim’s launch prompted a wave of TikTok product reviews, and Kylie Cosmetics has placed a greater focus on the platform over the past year,” he says. In the first half of this year, TikTok was responsible for pulling $4.7 million EMV for the brand, a 127% year-over-year increase, but also just a tiny fraction of the $41.4 million EMV that Instagram is responsible for.
Jordan, however, sees the next logical phase of their empire’s growth not as simply pivoting to a new social media platform, but actually bringing it all in-house. He explains that with more and more people embracing the idea of decentralizing important institutions like financial systems, that it only makes sense social media would follow suit, “where you’ll own your own content and you’ll post on a blockchain where you actually own that piece of content.”
“Instagram owns your profile right now,” Jordan adds. “Kim K rents her profile, she doesn’t own it.” This, in part, might explain celebrities’ sudden interest in pivoting to platforms like OnlyFans where, for the first time, they have almost total dominion over what they post and who gets to see it, while also receiving direct compensation from fans for that exclusive content. And for a family that has already vertically integrated both their own direct-to-consumer companies and their own fame, it seems like a no-brainer that they would want to extend that level of control and monetization to their social media presence as well. Luke concludes, “At their caliber, with how much viewership, how much following they naturally have that isn’t platform specific to Instagram, it only makes sense for the future.”