Reality TV star Kylie Jenner drastically reduced her social media presence when she became pregnant with her first child. But when she returned to the internet, it was with a bang. One simple tweet from her – one which would have probably been inconsequential coming from anyone else – ended up costing a company more than a billion dollars. That’s the Kylie Jenner effect for you. Kylie at 20 has so many Twitter followers, she just may be one of the most influential people on the platform.
Kylie Jenner has been in the spotlight ever since she was a young child. Keeping Up with the Kardashians, the reality series which made her family world famous, began in 2007 when she was just nine years old. Needless to say, she’s changed a lot since then. She’s gone from being family baby to awesomely successful businesswoman.
Consequently, Kylie is one of the richest young people in the world. She has a net worth of a whopping $50 million – more than some of her older sisters. She accumulated it through careful promotion of herself and her business interests. Her makeup line, Kylie Cosmetics, pulls in millions for her. In addition, her sponsorship deals with companies such as Puma do likewise.
But the Kylie Jenner effect hasn’t always taken form in a way Kylie herself appreciates. Her most famous physical attribute is arguably her lips – her lip logo is plastered over many of her products – but how she got them proved controversial. She admitted in a 2015 episode of Keeping Up with the Kardashians that she’d gotten lip fillers when she was still underage.
And that same year, a strange social media craze called “the Kylie Jenner challenge” swept the internet. In it, teenagers would suck on shot glasses to make their lips enlarge and post photos to social media. It got to the point where doctors had to warn people to not try it, for fear of them accidentally seriously damaging their faces. It even upset Kylie, who herself didn’t like what was going on.
She was 17 years old then, and a source told HollywoodLife at the time that the teenager was “mortified” and “saddened” by the dangerous craze. Kylie herself eventually said something about it via Twitter: “I’m not here to try & encourage people/young girls to look like me or to think this is the way they should look.”
It was all very silly, but it was a clear demonstration of how much power Kylie wielded. And as time went by, her influence grew stronger and stronger. She outshone some of her family members in terms of fame: she was rarely out of the celebrity gossip circuit. And she shifted millions of products bearing her name: lipsticks, swimsuits, clothes, sunglasses.
As a consequence, Kylie’s army of fans were desperate to keep up with her in any way they could, and so gradually the reality superstar spread her social media activity out over a variety of platforms. She had Twitter, she had Instagram, and she also had Snapchat. In fact, by July 2016 she was the most followed celebrity on Snapchat, no small feat even for her.
Yet there was one point, and only one, where she decided that uploading her life to the internet wasn’t such a good idea. That was when she became pregnant. She still uploaded photos and posts to her accounts, but she was much quieter than usual about what was going on with her. When the baby, Stormi, was born in February 2018, she apologized to her fans for the radio silence.
After the birth it was right back to business as usual – Kylie broke a record on Instagram when she made a post announcing her baby’s name. But then, on February 9, she began talking about her once-beloved app Snapchat. It had updated and gotten a new look. “Just saw the new Snapchat… I don’t know how i feel about it! What do you guys think?” she wrote.
One of Kylie’s followers answered with, “I hate it. Bring back the old Snapchat,” and tagged the company’s Twitter in the post. Kylie reblogged that answer to her own Twitter. “I kinda agree,” she wrote, with a crying emoji to top it off. It was clear she had some strong feelings about Snapchat’s redesign, as did the fans who followed her everywhere.
And a few weeks later she made the depth of those feelings clear. “Sooo does anyone else not open Snapchat anymore? Or is it just me… ugh this is so sad,” she wrote on February 21. Ten minutes later she added “still love you tho snap … my first love.” But she was too late. That one little tweet had far-reaching repercussions.
The next day, shares in Snapchat’s parent company Snap suddenly plummeted. And they plummeted by a lot – by the end of the end shares had sank by a whole 6.1 percent, losing the company a massive $1.3 billion. Kylie may be incredibly rich, but even she doesn’t command a fortune quite that big. And yet, just a word from her and it was gone.
To be fair, it may not have been entirely Kylie’s tweet that caused the stocks to fall. Snapchat’s redesign met with heavy criticism, with a lot of users complaining that the new layout was too difficult to use. In fact, some of those users even started a petition asking for the update to be reversed, a petition that eventually gained more than one million signatures.
Yet by the time Kylie made her tweet, the company had already pledged to fix the issues that the app users were having. On February 20 it released a statement saying that the Friends and Discover pages would “adapt” over time. The statement said, “This new foundation is just the beginning, and we will always listen closely to find new ways to make the service better for everyone.”
Many thinkpieces appeared about the power of celebrity and how one person could influence an entire company. “With rising popularity of social media, celebrities’ activities are increasingly playing a significant role in the stock market,” read an article on the ABC website. “Young consumers tend to be enticed to purchase a brand’s products endorsed by a celebrity who is attractive and has a similar age.”
Kylie’s tweet seemed to cause a domino effect of sorts, because on February 22 the cosmetics company Maybelline made a tweet that almost certainly also worried Snap. “Our @Snapchat views have dropped dramatically and we want to stay connected to you all. We’re not sure if this is the platform to do it anymore, unfortunately. Should Maybelline stay on Snapchat?” A poll said 81 percent of Maybelline followers would prefer Instagram instead.
Maybelline ultimately deleted the poll, and even made an apology of sorts. A spokesperson told the Wall Street Journal that, “The tweet from an individual within our Maybelline brand in no way reflects the views of the company, nor the Maybelline brand. We have a strong partnership with Snap Inc. and are happy with the results we are seeing with the platform.”
Kylie didn’t apologize – she probably felt she had no need to. But maybe she isn’t, after all, done with endorsing Snapchat. Just a few days after her now-infamous post, she headed straight back to the app to celebrate it being one month since she’d given birth. And she did it in true Kardashian style. In a photo captioned, “1 monthhhhhh,” she could be seen posing in a black T-shirt and underwear.
And even that wasn’t all. She also posted a little video of the new baby, simultaneously letting her fans know how Stormi was doing and lending a bit of love to poor old Snapchat. And whatever she’s doing must be working, as the app’s shares are gradually rising back up. Let’s hope they remain so, because Kylie would certainly miss Snapchat if it went.