image: Glamour

image: Glamour

What does influence look like in 2018? Kylie Jenner, the youngest member of the American reality television family, demonstrated on Wednesday. One tweet from the reality mega-star, who boasts a Twitter presence of 24.5 million followers, led, according to various business sites, “to the plummet of Snapchat’s stock, causing Snapchat’s parent company to lose some $1.3 billion in market value.” All Jenner had to do was suggest that she was no longer using the messaging service with any regularity anymore. 

On the heels of the tweet that Jenner posted on Wednesday evening – which read: “Sooo does anyone else not open Snapchat anymore? Or is it just me… ugh this is so sad” – shares in Snap, Inc. fell as much as 8.4 per cent to $17.08 on Thursday, almost as low as its March 2017 IPO price of $17. A late rally “helped lessen the blow with the company,” according to Bloomberg, with the company’s stock closing Thursday down just over 6 percent, which represented a drop of over $850 million in value, nonetheless.  

The share price opened at $17.60 on Friday morning, which is down quite a bit from its $20.75 price just earlier this month.

Jenner’s comment comes after Snapchat has faced backlash from users over a redesign of its app. As noted by the Financial Times, “Snapchat has separated pictures and messages posted by friends from professionally produced content from publishers, celebrities and other ‘influencers,’ arguing that it would make the app easier to use and more intimate.” The move has gotten “a cold reception from users and even prompted a petition to remove the update on Change.Org — which has received more than 1 million signatures.”

Given the fact that Snapchat has swiftly been losing marketshare to Instagram in terms of disappearing video capabilities (something that is being left out of most headlines), the more interesting thing at play here is the more generalized power of 71 characters from Jenner, a demonstration of the influence of the 20-year old new mother. 

As older sister “Kim’s fashion influence among young women is quickly trailing off,” Bloomberg wrote several years ago, Kylie has swiftly emerged as the most powerful figure in the famous family. Taking the title of the youngest high-earning celebrity on Forbes 2017 Richest Celebrities list (thereby beating out her sisters as the family’s top earner), Kylie has accumulated a net worth of around $50 million thanks in large part to the wild success of her quick-selling make-up line, Kylie Cosmetics.

Best known for its her brand’s lip kits, the young star raked in “a stunning $420 million,” per Forbes, before the cosmetics venture was even two years old. This is, of course, a testament to her ability to influence her fans and convert her social media numbers (24.5 million on Twitter and 103.7 million on Instagram) and app subscribers (Jenner saw 1.75 million downloads of her $2.99/month app the first week it was live in 2015) into buyers.

This is, at least in part, because the youngest Jenner is the most digital-media savvy. As MaryLeigh Bliss, chief content officer at youth research firm YPulse, told AdWeek, “The Kardashian sisters are all famous, obviously, but Kylie is the social media native. Giving fans that access through such a huge variety of social media platforms is really easy and natural for her.”

Jenner is also one of the more relatable of the wildly rich and famous crew. “Her life revolves around her looks, her beauty, her makeup, her clothing, her guys, her family, her friends, her music,” Teen Vogue editor in chief-turned-Architectural Digest head Amy Astley. “She’s having all these experiences on a very elite level, but when you break it down, it’s normal teen stuff.”

Implicit in that is her own sense of style, which has helped her land deals with Puma and her own line with sister/model Kendall, and beauty, the latter of which, has, of course, fed directly into the launch of Kylie Cosmetics, the venture that helped push her over the edge as the most influential of the sisters.

Then there is the marketing power/genius that is the Kardashian/Jenner machine, which has served to elevate this otherwise-unremarkable American family into one of the most famous in the world. In the truest sense of perfect-promotion, Jenner parlayed her Snapchat headlines – not even 24 hours later – into Kylie Cosmetics gold, providing a peek at the three new shades of her sold-out, traditional lipsticks and then announcing that she will release a new collection inspired by her newborn daughter Stormi.

And because Snapchat is so out, she revealed the news on her Instagram story.