In the last month, Kim Kardashian has been noticeably absent from the social media platforms that brought her to fame. While Kardashian tweeted 162 times and posted 40 Instagram pictures in September, she hasn’t post anything at all in the month after she was a victim of armed robbery in Paris.
Kardashian’s social media silence is understandable, as Johanna Primevert, the chief spokesperson for the Paris police department, has confirmed speculations that Kim’s social media presence played a role in the robbery. According to Primevert, “it was really the celebrity who was targeted, with possessions that had been seen and noticed via social media, and it was these goods that the attackers targeted.” In other words, the extensive information Kardashian shared on her social channels inadvertently helped the robbers in their crime. She posted Snaps of her Paris hotel room just hours before the incident, revealing her live location. She also posted several images on Instagram of her $4 million ring, which was subsequently stolen in the robbery.
Publicity: The Lifeblood of Celebrity
You might be thinking that Kim was reckless to broadcast her life online. But for the influencers who attribute their successful careers to social media, posting their information online is part of the job. The consumer appeal of influencers lies in seeming accessible and available to their audience, which often entails religiously documenting one’s every move on Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, etc. Within this social over-sharing are sponsored promotions of goods and services that allow social media celebrities to “monetize the act of living”.
However, Kardashian’s ordeal demonstrated that there is a point where an influencer’s visibility becomes a liability. While Kim realized that fact too late too late, her experience has made other influencers recognize that their Internet lives make them vulnerable to danger in their real lives.
Mahum Tariq is an up-and-coming social influencer who shares fashion and lifestyle content with her 30,000+ followers across YouTube, Instagram, and Twitter. Tariq says that she usually doesn’t post to Instagram in real-time because her photos take time to edit and upload. However, since Kardashian’s ordeal, Tariq sees this time delay as a blessing in disguise. “Now I feel like it’s a good way to keep myself safe, especially when you have thousands of followers who may be in the same area as you,” she told Social Media Explorer. Tariq has also limited her followers on Snapchat — which shows users’ real-time location— to only people she personally knows.
While scaling back on online activity seems like a rational precaution to take, such a restrained approach to social media can damage the relationship between influencers and their audiences. Kardashian’s brand heavily relies on the perceived authenticity created by her regular online activity. Thus it isn’t surprising that her social media blackout has already had major consequences on the strength and profitability of her brand. According to celebrity financial planner Samuel Rad, just by failing to post her general (i.e. unsponsored) content, Kardashian could lose more than $1 million a month. Her official app has already suffered financially, dropping 508 spots on the Apple Store Top-Grossing Apps chart.
If Kardashian’s brand loses traction, we can expect that the success of her partnerships with other brands will also suffer. Indeed, this has been the case. Brands that regularly work with Kim Kardashian, like Whalerock Industries (the developer of her app) and Glu Mobile (the maker of her “Kim Kardashian: Hollywood” game), haven’t had the regular exposure that they are accustomed to on Kim’s social media channels. This fact was made crystal-clear when a previously scheduled post sponsored by LuMee, a light-up phone case company, went up last week on Kim’s Facebook and was deleted only a few hours later.
The End of Influencer Marketing?
Brands may stand to lose out on marketing opportunities among other social influencers as well. Safety concerns may push social media personalities to post and engage less, thereby weakening their influence on their followers – and their followers’ shopping habits. Internet celebrities may also be more reluctant to collaborate with brands if the process involves a breach of their privacy (i.e. providing their address to receive press samples from a brand). “It can be very tricky to know who to trust and who not to,” Tariq explains. To ensure a brand’s creditability, she tries to work with companies who she knows have previously worked with other social media personalities.
Influencer culture is a relatively new concept, so tackling the issues associated with it, like safety, isn’t easy. After all, how can Internet celebrities stay safe when their careers depend on sharing everything online? Both sponsors and influencers have much to lose if social media activity is riddled with safety concerns. However, it is possible that by posting less content in an effort to preserve one’s privacy will make whatever content that does get posted even more valuable. Maybe the Instagram picture to end Kim Kardashian’s social media silence will be her most profitable one ever.