Social media marketing lessons from Emily in Paris

If you’ve missed Emily In Pariswhere have you been? It’s the latest in a long line of Netflix series’ to properly blow up, capturing the attention of the media—for both good and bad reasons. On the not-so-good side, the series offended some French people with an arguably inaccurate representation of the French culture. One review from an actual French person said: “they’re not all rude, hopeless at social media and perverts.” The show also made me feel like life is so easy with an unrealistic idea a career in PR that a junior assistant wins every account and can afford to wear Chanel?

However, if you can gloss over all that, it’s a very entertaining show and has just the right dose of romance for when you want a break from your real life. And then there’s the fashion.

However, this post is not a movie or a series review. The show is about a young marketing or PR assistant who moved to France to work in a small marketing agency. There are quite a number of social media marketing context in the show. Granted, I wish the actual life as a marketer would be as simple and straightforward as Emily’s, she also taught us a few marketing lessons.  

The social media personality is crucial

One of the main takeaways from the Emily in Paris series is that people take brand personality on social media seriously. It’s probably right to say customers see brands as a person with opinions, emotions and what they stand for. A new survey by Adzooma found 55.7% of people would unfollow a brand because of the way they spoke online. The research tried to show what customers actually feel about brands with strong personalities and how they would influence their purchasing decisions.  

A strong brand personality is an excellent way for a business to get noticed online. In fact, close to 60% of customers would buy from brands with strong personalities. A further 51% of consumers have purchased from a brand because of the way they spoke online. Only almost a third (29.9%) have admitted they wouldn’t be swayed by either brand or personality.

It is necessary for brands to craft their personality carefully. A good starting point is to ask themselves why a brand exists. The answer to this question should be beyond the brand’s product features. It should be a vision of a better world that the brand wants to take its customers to. The next step is to choose a personality that represents the brand. There are multiple ways brands could choose someone to represent their voice online. 

  1. Senior leadership team: many businesses choose their CEO to represent their brands. We are familiar with the voice from Elon Musk (Tesla) and Steve Jobs / Tim Cook (Apple). 
  2. Employees: businesses could choose or create a brand personality using one of their staff. 
  3. Influencers: collaborating with carefully chosen influencers is a great way to represent brands. One stand-out benefit is that influencers are likely to be an expert in social media channels.   

Content strategy is important

We all know that to be successful in the social media world, you have to post content. Emily has shown it to us that having a content strategy in place help guide the types of content that suit the audience of a particular platform. It’s not simply about posting a lot of content. It’s about choosing the right moments to share the right stories. 

We need to understand that people use social media to connect with other people and the outside world. Some may choose to engage with brands that sell products from a platform. But more often than not, people only want to connect and to engage. That is why telling compelling and interesting stories that represent brands is important.

Emily makes it so simple for brands to understand that if they have the right person to represent them, a simple photo with a compelling caption could go a long way.  

Instagram is powerful

I don’t use Instagram much. And I used to underestimate its impact on businesses. My thought started to change a few years ago when my young marketing team members put their focus on Instagram. 

According to AdEspresso, Instagram has about 1 billion monthly active users. About two out of three users are in the age range between 18 – 29 (Emily is in this range). More than half of the users are female. The part that made me question Instagram’s impact on business was when it comes down to product selling. I used to believe that Instagram would only work for businesses with physical (and interesting) products. I still hold that belief. However, Emily changed my mind a bit. It’s not about pictures of products, it’s about how businesses tell stories. 

One thing that I noticed when watching Emily in Paris is that Emily always captured “moments” that she thought were interesting (at least to her and later proved to be true for her audience as well). Before she knows it, she has her own stories that a lot of people want to follow. That’s what brand personality (or influencers) could do for businesses. It’s the ability to align brand stories to solutions that companies could offer. And Instagram could be a powerful tool for this purpose. 

Social media ads VS engagement

It doesn’t appear in the show that Emily uses Instagram ads. In reality, it’s difficult for brands not to spend money on ads to get more views for their stories. It’s a major challenge for the marketing team because the space is super crowded. It’s also difficult to consistently produce engaging content day-in, day-out. 

At the end of the day, businesses are under pressure of generating revenue in some forms. It’s especially true to the companies that use direct response marketing approach. Those companies measure results in the near term. When the marketing team spend times and money on something, they have to show immediate returns in forms of the number of leads and ultimately sales.  

It’s important to note that businesses cannot buy ads all the times. As a rule of thumb, at least 70% of the posts should tell brand stories. Those stories could be about the brands, the companies, or their customers. 

Final thoughts…

Generally speaking, Emily in Paris is a fun, entertaining show on Netflix. The show got many things right to get the audience hooked such as beautiful sceneries, good looking casts, and most importantly, culturally controversial points to debate. When I was watching the show, I questioned my social media marketing ability. Emily made me feel that the younger generations could do a better job. Then, I realised that it’s much more challenging to achieve what Emily did in the real (marketer’s) life.  

Having said that I got more out of this show than just entertainment. Emily confirmed my belief that telling good brand stories with a clear marketing strategy in mind is critical for brand success. Marketers only need to manage their boss’s expectation that it’s just a show. Success in social media wouldn’t come overnight. 

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