Back in my day (cue the Depends and Centrum Silver advertisements)… Kim Kardashian was the girl that had a porn tape “accidentally leak” with Brandy’s brother. These were the days of Paris Hilton’s The Simple Life. My friends and I, in our twenties at the time, engaged in some guilty pleasures of watching Paris and Nicole ham it up, asking if Wal-Mart sells walls. We delightedly rolled our eyes, secretly feeling superior for being far more intelligent and proud of our down-home roots and can-do attitudes.
Kim popped up here and there as a Paris Hilton sidekick, at one time organizing her closet (why do I remember this??), sometimes in a paparazzi pic out at some hotspot in L.A.
I’m sure Paris was making her millions hawking her perfume wares and such, but she kind of faded in pop culture relevancy. Nicole lost some weight, got clean, got married, and we barely hear about her anymore.
But Kim didn’t go away.
She posed in Playboy. She took selfies. She and her family launched Keeping Up with the Kardashians, a show that at first had the same look and feel as The Girls Next Door (another early aughts guilty pleasure of mine). I only watched the first season out of morbid curiosity. I watched the Kardashian sisters cat fight passive aggressively (and sometimes aggressively aggressively) at their Dash store in Calabasas. I grew bored of their antics and moved on, assuming they’d fade like the others before them- Paris Hilton, Nicole Richie, Holly Madison, Kendra Wilkinson and Bridgett Whatshername.
It seemed when Keeping Up With the Kardashians first aired, the agreed upon sentiment was that the show was a guilty pleasure. The sisters’ antics were ridiculous. The on-air crying drama was tiresome and the purpose of watching was to make ourselves feel better about our own intellect. (Does anyone else remember watching Season 1 Kendall and Kylie spin themselves around Kris and Bruce’s stripper pole in their bedroom?)
I remember vividly the first time I heard someone actually profess (without shame) that they liked Kim Kardashian. That they followed Kim Kardashian. That they wanted to run a business like Kim Kardashian. My jaw dropped. The woman who was saying these things was intelligent, college educated, and ten years younger than me.
Somehow, in the span of the Keeping Up with the Kardashians tenure (KUWTK for Pete’s sake), Kim Kardashian, and her sisters, became legitimate business women. I’m equal parts horrified and in awe.
I’m horrified because the pervasive image of all of the Kardashian-Jenners is one of excess- over sexualized and under intellectualized.
But. These women wrote the book on content creation. They’ve each gone so far as to have intense plastic surgery to keep people talking about them (c’mon, look at that photo above… Khloe and Kylie don’t even look like the same people anymore).
Khloe’s baby shower last year was sponsored. By Amazon. Seriously.
So, what can we learn from this? That we should all have plastic surgery and live in the limelight as “Influencers”? Absolutely not. I think from a brand perspective, we can take home a few key points.
Four Things We Can Learn About Content Creation From Kim Kardashian:
- Create content that is valuable. Hey, Kim’s app Kim Kardashian: Hollywood may not be my bag, but millions actively engage with it. She launched it years ago as people wanted more and more access to her and monetarily captured some of her first fans that way.
- Always have a call to action. Part of Kim being able to monetize people’s interest was to have something she could steer them to. The sell piece started subtle with the Kardashian/Jenners and they’ve continuously leveled up. If you ever watch shows like Ellen or Jimmy Fallon, the celebrities on the show are usually promoting something- their new movie, a new makeup line, a decor line at Target, etc.
- Create streams of revenue around the content in unique ways. Last year Kim debuted ScreenShop that allows people to easily search online retail options of fashion in screenshots.
- Leverage, leverage, leverage. Kim debuts a product, Kylie debuts a Kim-partnered product, Kanye debuts his fashion line by Kim wearing the clothes in paparazzi photos.
The Kardashians entered the reality tv scene around the same time as many others that we no long pay any attention to. What’s made them stand the test of time (and make hundreds of millions of dollars in the process) is their master-level content creation and seemingly endless ability to leverage. Other businesses can take note and learn from these strategies to grow revenues or increase visibility, even if our own personal values contrast with those of the Kardashians.