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Yep, that was a legitimate strategy and depending on your perspective on Mrs Kardashian-West, its performance may surprise you.
In case you were not aware Kim has spent 48 hours giving a masterclass in leveraging social media and getting a significant return on her investment.
In a time where marketers are more than over “trendjacking”, Kim Kardashian seemingly "by accident" proved that it can still be done, if executed correctly.
While it is easy to say “that’s fine for Kim, she is a megastar” there are significant lessons that can be learned from a deeper look at Kim K’s marketing campaign series of tweets.
NB: The links to Kim K’s tweets are probably NSFW. But if you get caught, it’s research right?
And for further examples of campaigns related to International Women’s Day, check out these posts:
- 17 marketing campaigns with a positive message for women
- Five social media campaigns celebrating women across the globe
- How Women’s Aid used digital OOH ads to make 327m people stop & look
Step 1: The Nude (Alt title: Get people into the sales funnel)
At 8:11am GMT on 7th March (the day before International Women’s Day), but just after midnight in LA where Kim K was based, the star tweeted a nude image with the Twitter friendly caption: “When you're like I have nothing to wear LOL”.
What ensued was predictable internet pandemonium. Media outlets of the viral variety covered the picture and the reactions that ensued.
Shortly afterwards, the thinkpieces on whether this is socially problematic or not began to emerge.
Given that social media platforms are the primary holders of our attention in 2016, Twitter and Facebook obliged and also did their part; Twitter provided a Twitter Moment (one of at least three on the star over the 48 period) and Facebook declared her a trending topic, which she still is as of writing.
Facebook’s involvement is particularly important.
Given that most digital publishers get the majority of traffic from Facebook, they are incentivised to follow Facebook’s trends, thus more content, more reading, more discussion and the feedback loop rolls on and on.
The fact that her tweet was retweeted over 110,000 times misses the point.
All of the earned media surrounding her effectively filled up her funnel on the eve of #IWD2016 with aware, captivated observers intrigued to see what happens next.
Step 2: To all my haters (Alt title: From Awareness to consideration)
Reading my comments like....LOL pic.twitter.com/hQ4fVu9Aq6— Kim Kardashian West (@KimKardashian) March 8, 2016
16 hours after the initial tweet (Still the eve of #IWD2016), Kim tweeted the above, followed by a series of tweets addressing those that criticised her, including this stinger to Piers Morgan (if you know the back story, then you know).
And Bette Midler, who also called her out for her picture.
Which was followed by more internet culture material and finally another nude picture with the caption “#Liberated”.
The resultant effect? The same as before, but now the conversation on whether Kim is liberated and liberating other women has ‘conveniently’ gone well into #IWD2016.
Step 3: Flipping the script (Alt title: Conversion)
Already dominating many timelines and newsfeeds on the afternoon of #IWD2016, Kim posted this tweet, which linked to an open letter, which so happens to be behind a paywall for premium Kardashian content, which you can access free for seven days.
But because the internet is the internet, if you don’t want to give The Kardashian-Jenner clan your details, screenshots are readily available via Twitter (NSFW).
The overriding message? “I’m empowered by body and sexuality regardless of my past and flaws. If I am cool with it, you should be too. #HappyInternationalWomrnsDay”.
And just like that, the open letter framed her positively, challenged people's perceptions and took full advantage of the day being celebrated.
Step 4: Guess who is on Snapchat… (Alt title: Buy/Loyalty/Another Touchpoint to consume Kim)
With such positive sentiment, is there a better time to let the world know that you are the hottest social platform of the moment?
Snapchat pic.twitter.com/ofJMSNFqmm— Kim Kardashian West (@KimKardashian) March 9, 2016
Now to be clear, if Kim didn’t do this and simply posted the above tweet, it probably would have become news in some circles.
But the groundwork laid by her tweets and open letter created a much better environment for her to release such a newsworthy event.
Given that a Kardashian's overall metric for success is attention, it’s clear that for her this was a success, even if only a handful of people signed-up for a free trial to her platform.
No doubt, most brands and celebrities don’t have the means or desire to pull off such a campaign. However, there are some things that every marketer can take going forward:
1. Forward plan activities around social trends, especially when they are relevant with brand
Whatever your corner of the internet looks like, you can be sure there are at least a handful of trends or #INSERTOCCASIONDay that really resonate with your audience and align with your brand's identity.
It only makes sense to milk these occasions for all they are worth.
They will be one of the few times where your brand can contribute to the conversation authentically and earnestly.
Given that the topic matter should be relatively comfortable to discuss for your brand and audience, you should feel more inclined to take creative license and attempt something a little risky. Not Kim K risky… but risky.
2. Create the conversation, rather than just joining in
By all means, I am not saying post nude pictures on the internet. Unless it makes sense for your brand of course.
On #IWD2016, all sorts of organisations and people created content that was shared and experienced by many. How many did YOU share? How many do you even remember?
The key to this point is creating an experience that stands out, such that your biggest fans will be willing to engage with it.
Whether this is a physical event, or a digital experience, give consumers an experience they will struggle to forget.
3. Leverage the social web for what it’s worth
It is easy to simply read this as “attempt to go viral”. However the aim should be to implement a solid social strategy - virality is then just a happy (albeit unlikely) by-product of your social activity.
In many cases, people, events and brands trend after the fact.
By understanding the way the social web works Kim was able to control the conversation and create the largest addressable market possible for whatever she was selling.
Whether the payoff was her premium subscription product, the perception-altering letter or her new Snapchat account, the previous 48 hour's activities made sure that if you were a potential buyer of any of these, chances are you are going to know.
Understanding how to truly take advantage of social requires time, experience, nuance, creativity and the freedom to fail in disastrous fashion.
But if social media is going to live up to its potential and replace TV for brand advertising budgets, marketers will need to figure out that the way to command users' attention is as much art as it is science.