Basically, I want to know the tech secrets of Kim Kardashian West.
While that might seem an oxymoron, given how visible this Hollywood reality show juggernaut is, I doubt anyone has ever done a really good interview with her about the clear impact she has made in the digital space.
More on that below, but that’s why Re/code invited her (and whatever cameras might be trailing her) to our Code/Mobile event, which is taking place October 27 and 28 at the Ritz Carlton in Half Moon Bay, Calif. Other speakers include YouTube head Susan Wojcicki, the Instagram founders and Apple iPhone kingpin Greg Joswiak.
How exactly does Kardashian West fit in with this techie crowd? Well, the answer is that she does a lot and she does not, which will make for a fascinating interview. But whatever you think of her and her much-chronicled family, they have used social media, especially mobile, very adeptly. In the age of instant communication by celebrities to their fan base, she is one of the most effective users of these tools.
The first impulse, of course, is to dismiss her, as some on Twitter did yesterday when Re/code announced that she would be a speaker at Code/Media. Why would I want to interview her, asked one tweeter, when I had had people like Apple’s Steve Jobs onstage? Had I jumped the shark, posited another. And here’s an interesting exchange I had with someone else:
My answers: Because I am not sure why the comparison is Steve Jobs or anyone else — we seek interesting people of all kinds for the stage to talk about various facets of the medium as it develops; with all due respect to Fonzie, no; and, yes, you are on a very high horse when you don’t want to understand how someone got to be a digital phenom.
Consider the numbers alone: Kardashian West has more than 24 million followers on Twitter and has tweeted 18,000 times; she has posted 2,104 photos on Instagram (here’s an example of one she posted of her and her husband Kanye West) and has almost 20 million followers there; and, on Facebook, she has 23 million fans.
Plus, she is an active participant in the medium, the rare celebrity who manages to use it effectively as a marketing and branding tool, as well as a way to stay visible and relevant. Her mobile feeds, however riveting or inane you find them, are lively and engaging.
Why and how she does that is just as interesting to me as asking someone like Twitter CEO Dick Costolo — who has to love an energetic celeb like Kardashian West on his service — talking about how the communications medium tries to grow its base and innovate its product.
In addition, this year Kardashian West managed to break through the masses of mobile games and launch in partnership with Glu Mobile, a very successful app called Kim Kardashian: Hollywood.
Did she engineer it? No. Did she create its compelling games mechanics? Probably not. But I want to know exactly what hand she had in creating it and why it managed to become the viral success it has been, an achievement that also earned Kardashian West an awful lot of money.
Noted Bloomberg: “Annual revenue from Kim Kardashian: Hollywood may reach $200 million, estimates Douglas Creutz, an analyst with Cowen & Co. in New York.” Kardashian West has a big piece of that.
So what, you continue to say? Well, I can’t name another celeb who has done this so quickly and I want to know why and how she decided to enter the space and how she plans to stay on top as the cycles of these games shift in popularity. (By the way, Glu recently reupped the deal by three years.)
“Why is Kim Kardashian: Hollywood so popular? Because people like it” was the headline of a piece in the Guardian about it, which noted there were “245,000 reviews, and a perfect five-star rating on Apple’s US App Store from nearly 200,000 reviews.” Exactly.
And as Fast Company added: “Depending on whom you talk to, this game is either the the greatest thing to happen to smartphones since the selfie or the gaming equivalent to mind rabies. But as with all seemingly obvious things that become insanely popular — like garishly branded headphones or cornets — someone had to think of it first.”
Exactly. And so I want to know about how that happened. Because to simply consider Kardashian West some kind of empty vessel of a person who trips into all this mobile success is really not what’s happening here.
That’s why I want to talk to the mobile, multi-platform celeb, who clearly has her finger on the pulse of her digital audience.
How does she do that? Sorry to use a tabloid cliche, but inquiring minds want to know.
This article originally appeared on Recode.net.