When it comes to social media, most of us don’t have a lot of influence. We post a political message once in a while or share our views about a favorite sports team, then watch as a handful of people click “like” on Facebook or Instagram.
My “influence” (that’s in air quotes on purpose) is minimal even with friends and family members, mostly because I’m not a celebrity and only have a few thousand followers. My only claim to fame is Elon Musk once tweeted one of my articles.
Apparently, if your name is Kylie Jenner and you have 363 million followers on Instagram alone, you can influence a lot of people.
In fact, it’s not a stretch to suggest she has an impact on how the social media platforms even work. One recent example has to do with some interface changes on Instagram that were an attempt to make video much more obvious in the feed.
I wrote about this topic recently, suggesting that the major changes were intended to make the photo-centric app look and feel a lot more like TikTok.
Not so fast there.
I don’t think anyone ran those changes past Kylie Jenner, who posted a story criticizing the changes. She seems to have the final stamp of approval. So much so that Instagram is no longer making the changes.
Since Facebook (by way of parent company Meta) owns Instagram, it means she’s the boss. They might want to get her an office soon.
Now, let me back up here a little and explain what is happening with video in general. It all started quite a few years ago when we all realized we could film anything with our phones. Pratfalls were just the beginning. I have literally learned how to rebuild a Range Rover engine watching YouTube videos (my nephew actually did the work); recently, when I needed to reset a mesh network in my house to use the Internet in every room, I watched a quick explainer video on TikTok.
Video rules the world. While we’ve all seen funny photos and graphical memes on Instagram, the true power of engagement in the attention economy comes when you post a video. That’s not lost on Instagram or Facebook by any means, and they are making moves to capture that market.
Unfortunately, they don’t quite understand who runs the platforms.
It’s not Mark Zuckerberg, that’s for sure. The influencers wield all of the influence. When they give you a thumbs up over a new feature, it can lead to massive interest. If they say “stay in your lane” to Instagram, the execs crawl back into their fancy silicon valley offices and say nevermind.
Snapchat learned this the hard way after Jenner noticed she wasn’t using the app that much. Mic drop moment, followed by a stock drop.
The company lost about $1.3B in stock price after she tweeted about the company.
When the influencers talk, you better listen or pay the price.
My question is, what comes next?
If innovation is in the eye of the influencer, and not the executive team, it might be hard to try new things (or downright impossible). It’s not like she’s on the board of directors. I would say she is on a higher level, though. No one reports to her, but her influence extends much farther than any employee.
Hopefully, the boss of Facebook and Instagram won’t get tired of the Instagram feed anytime soon. She said she likes the “cute photos” from friends…at least for now.