Kylie Jenner started fame off as the little sister of Kim Kardashian on a reality television show first aired in 2007, titled “Keeping up with the Kardashian.” Twelve short years later, she has been named the “Youngest Self-Made Billionaire Ever” by Forbes. Due to the power of social media, Kylie Jenner has built an empire as a new type of celebrity- a digital influencer. She is an online superstar, a budding entrepreneur, and a millennial icon due to her online presence.
Kylie Jenner did not gain popularity through the traditional platforms of her prior successors. The Kardashian clan owes its fame to older sister, Kim Kardashian. Consumers of reality TV vaulted Kim to stardom through a “performance of femininity that is uniquely aware of- and caters to- male heteronormative desires.” Using themes of female empowerment and highly sexualized self-promotion, the Kardashian became “famous for being famous.” But the show is not the only reason they are famous. The family utilizes social media platforms to promote their show. Their Twitter feeds as an alternative version of the show as they tweet fans to tune in to the show or to promote commercial products. While each member of the Kardashian family has their own vices and businesses that stem from the show, Kylie Jenner uses her social media platforms in a different way. Legacy mediums include using the family show for fame, aspirations to be an entertainer, or creation of digital content. Jenner makes appearances on the show but does not depend on its success as much as her sisters. She has no aspirations to be an entertainer of any sort while her sister Kendall Jenner aspires to be a super model. Other social media influencers such as Jeffrey Star or PewDiePie use their platforms to create digital content for fans. Kylie Jenner’s online success stems from the image of herself that she presents on social media.
With 154,775,091 followers across Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, Kylie Jenner gains her popularity for being “famous, fashionable, and self-obsessed.” That number does not include her followers on Snapchat, but it was confirmed in 2016 that Jenner was the number one most followed person for that medium. According to a new report released by social media analytics firm, D’Marie Analytics, Jenner’s posts are now worth more than $1 million each in “ad equivalent value.” Frank Spadafora, the analytics firm CEO stated in a press release: ““Influencer valuations move up and down like the stock market, but Kylie is methodical about consistently generating aspirational content for her social audience, without jeopardizing authenticity.” What attributes to this success? Jenner allows audiences to view her everyday life. Younger audiences are moving away from traditional television entertainment and turning to social media. No longer are children sitting down to Saturday morning cartoons but instead logging on to Instagram to catch a glimpse of their favorite celebrities. Jenner generously provides viewers access to her celebrity lifestyle while remaining “relatable.” Despite her obvious wealth and privilege, her posts include “normal” teenager content like what music, clothing, cars, and makeup. With this enormous following on social media, Jenner attracts massive opportunities for brands to use her popularity as a marketing tool.
With an intense connection to millennial audiences, Kylie Jenner uses her social media influence on land endorsements deals, plug a clothing line, and build a makeup empire. High-profile partnerships such as Puma, launch with Kylie Jenner because of her influence on the internet. Puma global director of brand marketing Adam Petrick states that, “we wanted to find somebody who really captured the spirit of the consumers themselves, and we felt that Kylie, with her lifestyle and the way she is-stylish, active, dynamic, creative, entrepreneurial, media-savvy- embodies a lot of the things we think our younger consumers aspire to.” In 2015, Jenner branched out on her own to start a beauty line, Kylie Cosmetics. For three years, her makeup line was sold exclusively online, and her products would sell out within minutes of launching. Marketing is done primarily on her social media platforms where she “announces product launches, previews new items and announces the Kylie Cosmetics shades she’s wearing directly to the 175 million-plus who follow her across Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.” With only seven fulltime and five part-time employees, Jenner owns the entire company. “It’s the power of social media,” Jenner says. “I had such a strong reach before I was able to start anything.” After partnering with Ulta, her company grew even more as stores sold out of her products within hours of stocking. On March 5, 2019, Forbes named Jenner the “youngest self-made billionaire.” Within three years, Jenner used her social media platforms to grow an empire, one of such the world has never seen before.
Pop culture and society has experienced a change in entertainment. Social media gives platforms to people who seek success. Kylie Jenner is one of those people. Although already famous from a hit reality television show, Jenner’s fame comes from her social media influence. Her sense of business and nature of fame allows for her brand to get the most exposure possible. Even though Jenner leads the desirable celebrity lifestyle that fans adore, her ability to remain relatable catapults her to fame and taps into a bigger fan pool. Kylie Jenner shows us that it doesn’t take a team of marketing majors to be successful, it takes an iPhone camera, a social media platform, and relatable content to be a success. That, and the fact that she comes from a famous family. While maybe the label “self-made” does not fit Jenner, one can argue that she uses the digital tools available to her to her advantage and it has paid off.
Bazilian, Emma. “The Faces of Kylie. Adweek, 57, Apr 11, 2016. 16-19.
Buysse, Jordan, Alicia Caticha, Alyssa Collins, Justin Greenlee, Sarah McEleney, and Joseph Thompson. “DASH-Amerikan: Keeping Up with the Social Media Ecologies of the Kardashians.” American Quarterly 70, no. 3 (2018): 609-11.
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Petter, Olivia. “Kylie Jenner’s Instagram Posts Now Worth More Than $1Million Each, New Report Finds,” Independent, May 4, 2018.
“At 21, Kylie Jenner Becomes the Youngest Self-Made Billionaire Ever” Forbes, March 5, 2019.
Jordan Buysse, Alicia Caticha, Alyssa Collins, Justin Greenlee, Sarah McEleney, and Joseph Thompson. “DASH-Amerikan: Keeping Up with the Social Media Ecologies of the Kardashians.” (American Quarterly 70, no. 3, 2018), 609.
 Buysse, ‘DASH-Amerikan”, 610.
 Alicia Eler, The Selfie Generation: How Our Self-images Are Changing Our Notions of Privacy, Sex, Consent, and Culture. (New York, NY: Skyhorse Publishing, 2017), 24.
 Olivia Petter, “Kylie Jenner’s Instagram Posts Now Worth More Than $1Million Each, New Report Finds,” (Independent, May 4, 2018), 1.
 Emma Bazilian, “The Faces of Kylie” (Adweek, 57, April 11, 2016), 18.
 Bazilian, “Many Faces”, 18.
 Natalie Robehmed, “At 21, Kylie Jenner Becomes the Youngest Self-Made Billionaire Ever,” (Forbes, March 5, 2019), 1.