In one episode during the last season of Keeping Up With The Kardashians, Kim asks Khloe and Kourtney to sign off on using their likenesses in her wildly successful app, Kim Kardashian: Hollywood. The app, which made over $74 million last year, mirrors Kim's own life, and incorporating the whole family was necessary to keep the app fresh and realistic. Kourtney, however, was unimpressed by Kim's offer, wanting to make some of that money for herself, and eventually served her sister with a cease and desist letter. This drama filled up an entire 22-minute episode.
Well, it seems they have smoothed things over and struck a new deal, as this week all the sisters took the stage in the Soho Apple store to announce their respective apps in the middle of New York Fashion Week, claiming their spot as both fashion and social media queens.
Each of the five new apps (one for each sister) is personalized to fit that particular Kardashian or Jenner. What kind of content do the apps have? Users will have access to personal video diaries, makeup and fashion tutorials, exclusive live-streaming events, workout tips, giveaways, and more.
Kourtney's app hasn't launched yet, but fear not, Kardashian fans: hers is coming late down the pike, to arrive next month. Kourtney said hers will be focused more on interior design and mommy tips.
The monetization model is simple: each app will have free content as well as subscriber content, and getting past that subscription paywall costs $2.99 per month. The apps were developed by Whalerock Industries, whose pitch to celebrities is, according to Fortune Magazine, "that celebrities can become their own media moguls by controlling the types of content they can release, and charge for." Many of the sisters are extremely popular on Instagram and Snapchat: Khloe, Kendall, Kim, and Kylie are all in the top ten most followed Instagram accounts, and Kylie's Snapchat videos seem to be in celebrity news every week. If the women can mobilize that massive social media following and push traffic to their apps, a huge amount of money is to be made.
Will the apps make the rest of the sisters as much money as Kim's did? If initial numbers are anything, it looks like Kylie might be the new Kardashian/Jenner queen of social. Two days out, Kylie Jenner's app has topped the charts on downloaded free apps, beating out Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat. Business Insider reports that the other sisters' apps didn't do so badly, either, scoring spots in the top 20 and beating out Spotify, Google Maps, Pinterest, Uber, and Twitter in the rankings. With this kind of fan base and star power
While it's easy to mock the Kardashians' wispy cloud-thin reality television personas, it's harder to mock their social media success. Kim Kardashian has long reigned as one of the most powerful people on any social platform she goes to, and is among the first celebrities to monetize that with an app. At the Soho event she wisely recommended authenticity and consistency for social media success. And whether it comes naturally to them or comes from being very well-managed, maybe it's time we acknowledge their business savvy. In any case, watching what happens with these apps will likely result in a huge lesson for social marketers of all stripes.