This is an excerpt from Please Like Me, BuzzFeed News’ newsletter about how influencers are battling for your attention. You can sign up here.
Kim Kardashian West is the Steve Jobs of running a self-branded social media empire. Against everyone’s distaste and doubts, she and her team have pushed the limits on how much internet spotlight one can hold and make profitable. Her Instagram landing page is both a museum and a megamall.
That’s why I was surprised to see that she posted a traditional loop giveaway on her IG earlier this week. (Loop giveaways are coordinated efforts by a group of influencers to reward one follower with a big prize, usually in exchange for people to follow their accounts and mass-comment on their posts. They are controversial because they’ve become growth and engagement hacks for influencers under the guise of “giving back” to their communities.)
My first response was: Kim is too big to need to do one of these. My second was: Kim’s Instagram account is too sophisticated for this.
The giveaway appears to be a joint venture with Scott Disick, who also posted about it. Both their posts are now archived and/or deleted. The two influencers, who have a combined 289 million followers (of course, Kim contributing most of them), are giving away $100K in a preloaded credit card, two first-class tickets for a trip to Beverly Hills, and a three-night hotel stay in town. “You could shop like me if you win this amazing luxury shopping spree & holiday,” Kim’s caption read. The whole sweepstakes is fronted by a marketing agency called Curated Businesses.
Like most loop giveaways, an entry required people to strategically follow 75 accounts that Scott Disick was also following at the time and to comment on her post saying what they’d buy first if they won.
A quick scroll through the many responses to Kim’s post was both funny and very, very sad. Her comments were a torrent of people also puzzled as to why she was doing this (along with the never-not-funny “Kim, there’s people that are dying” meme); and others earnestly trying to enter the giveaway by revealing they would use the money to help pay off their student loans, or pay their parents’ mortgage.
That so many people are desperate enough to try to win money from Kim Kardashian and Scott Disick to help pay off housing and education loans is tragically emblematic of America.
I reached out to Kim and Scott’s teams and to Curated Businesses about this deal. I imagine it was a huge get for the marketing agency and extremely expensive to have Kim involved. (It’s been reported that Kim charges companies from hundreds of thousands of dollars to $1 million for one sponcon.) I asked them how much the influencers were paid to promote it, and how much the influencers involved (the ones people had to follow in order to win) paid to join. I also asked Kim’s team specifically why she would align herself with these kinds of marketing, beyond raking in a lot of money. I haven’t yet heard back from any camps.
Consumers are smart enough to sniff through the “giveaway” branding and know that these coordinated events mostly serve the influencers involved, so I’m puzzled by this move from Kim’s social media team. If it’s just for money, it reads as greedy. Kim has more than enough followers, and she can grow them authentically with her enormous star power and natural intrigue.
These giveaways have also been stained with controversy. They’re poorly regulated, and Instagram investigated them in the past for violating its spam policy. Why is Kim treading in those waters? She doesn’t need to.
Unless there is a big galaxy-brained marketing play I’m not attuned to, this is all in poor taste IMO. If you, reader, have any working theories about it, please email me.
Of course a 25-year-old social media fellow runs this fantastic TikTok account from a bird conservation organization
There are a lot of brands doing TikTok authentically, but Audubon Society, a national bird conservation organization, does it magically. TikTok memes and birds — it’s playing to my heart.
The nonprofit has been posting to TikTok for a while now, but lately its videos have been going viral because, well, they’re just really fucking good. This week Audubon Society jumped on a very niche joke first started by robinrena2608. For fear of ruining the funny, I don’t even want to attempt to explain it. Just watch it; it cracked me up so hard.
It’s hard not to be charmed by the intersection of silly internet jokes and why birds rule. Audubon Society’s videos get watched tens of thousands to millions of times, and it has nearly 144,000 followers. A bird conservation brand — and one of the oldest in the country! As one commenter put it, “Why does the Audubon society understand tiktok better than most celebs.”
I reached out to the organization, and it directed me to Zakiyyah Madyun, a 25-year-old “storytelling fellow” who’s been helping to run its TikTok account. Madyun was hired as a part of a fellowship program at Audubon “designed to elevate young voices and to cultivate a more diverse, urban constituency,” her manager and the director of social media, Preeti Desai, said.
“Our primary focus on TikTok is to raise awareness about Audubon as an organization, and if we can educate followers along the way, that’s a bonus,” Desai said. She says the nonprofit has been experimenting with “funny trending videos” to teach people about birds and conservation.
Madyun also works with two other social media team members, Christine Lin and Elizabeth Muñoz Huber, who’ve helped shape the ~voice~ of the brand online.
“I spend a lot of time searching through TikTok for sounds and trends that will allow us to share our love for birds and birdwatching in a fun, accessible way that people who wouldn't consider themselves birders can still engage with and enjoy,” Madyun told me over email.
The enthusiasm people have for birds and learning about birdwatching on a platform that “isn’t known for nature content” really delighted her.
“What makes me happiest is seeing people asking about bird IDs, and sharing fun facts and stories in the comments,” Madyun said. “Even on our most comedic posts, people are finding ways to engage with conservation and birding who may not have otherwise done so.”
10/10 endorsement for this social media marketing. And a little nudge to give this young team a raise and/or full-time employment. :-)
Until next time,