What Emily in Paris Gets Wrong and Right About Social Media Marketing (From An Expert)
Emily in Paris is being hailed as sex and the city for a new generation and it has all the ingredients to live up to that hype. A famous and glamorous city setting, fashions styled by the legendary Patricia Field and a main character whose life and work seems wildly unrealistic but decadently enviable.
Main character Emily is an American marketing and social media manager who lands in Paris ready for a year of work, love and fashion. She is immediately successful, gaining an insane number of followers on her personal account in a matter of days and despite attracting disdain from her co-workers, she excels in every campaign pitch winning over clients left, right and center.
I’ve been working in social media and PR for five years now and while a part of me wishes this job was all croissants and trips to Saint Tropez, it isn’t always a glamorous or as laissez-faire as the show suggests.
Here’s everything Emily in Paris got right and wrong about social media marketing from a social media expert.
From 48 followers to 20,000 in just a few episodes, what is this? 2014? Clearly the writers of this show haven’t checked Instagram since 2014 because that is the last time you phone it into this platform with one sentence captions and selfies.
Unless Emily committed the cardinal sin of buying followers, I can’t imagine she’d see growth like this.
The Truth – It takes a long time to grow your audience for any account on Instagram. You have to show up consistently on the platform, create content that has value for your niche and engage with your audience. Even then growth can be slow depending on the type of account and the target audience you’re trying to engage. Unless you’d been doing social media for a while and had several posts and reels go viral, I can’t see this kind of growth happening in a year let alone a couple of weeks.
Hot button political content
This one is going to be contentious but posting hot button political content can be a solid part of a social media strategy.
Emily’s company is representing a vaginal rejuvenation brand and Emily posts a feminist comment on the French language. Protesting the use of male pronouns for the word vagina. Emily shares a post with a picture of the vaginal rejuvenation product with the comment ‘The vagina is not male’. The post goes viral, she gets retweeted by The French first lady and her client is delighted.
That being said it doesn’t work for all kinds of accounts, but a political statement can be a strong move that can strengthen a brand’s connection with their audience, improve their social standing.
The Truth – While the concept is a good move for Emily’s personal brand, a strong feminist statement that garners the unrealistic attention of the President’s wife. Using an image of her client’s product is a major social media faux par, without clearance you would never do this.
No approval process
Emily doesn’t seem to design and create a content calendar in advance for her clients. There is no collaboration and no approval process. Emily just writes and makes posts on the fly. This just wouldn’t cut it in the real world.
The Truth – A content creator and social media manager works with their client to collaborate and create content relevant to their brand, built on content pillars and all content ideas, captions and campaigns are submitted for approval and then scheduled in advance.
Okay so you don’t get ALL the freebies, but free products are one of the perks of being in PR or Social Media Management. Swag bags, testers and promo kits often include an array of free products. So, when Emily gets a few freebies, they’re not wrong.
The Truth – While there are lots of freebies and there are products floating around a marketing office, everything is accounted for, there is register for all promotional items, products and gifts. If you are taking it home, you’re logging it.
Lack of strategy – Emily seems to post randomly
This is one of my biggest gripes with the show, Emily’s personal account is so #basic. She doesn’t seem to have any strategy and her content is almost like a bot account, she posts selfies and random photos with one sentence captions. I almost expect she is DMing her followers with promises of high return investments in crypto and dodgy phishing links.
The Truth – A social media strategist and content creator would plan their brand voice and tone as well as creating a strategy for the account. Emily’s account is a lifestyle account, her strategy might revolve around a combination of aspirational content and down to earth humour or similar to a travel account she might post about her experiences in Paris – where she goes, what she loves and her tips for doing Paris right. But she doesn’t offer anything of substance in her socials.
Social Media Installations
When one of Emily’s clients makes luxury beds, she launches a campaign to dormir à la belle étoile (sleep under the stars). It’s a social media installation that encourages people to interact with the product and then create user generated content that can be harnessed for a grass roots social media campaign.
The Truth – This kind of large scale installation would only happen with a large brand, but they do happen. Most social media managers will get work with social media installation at some point, but the most common type is at parties, events or exhibitions where there is some sort of interactive area that includes the product or branding ie: a wall you stand in front of, a frame you hold up etc. User generated content or UGC is commonly a part of a larger social media strategy.
It’s very cringy to see Emily posting pictures and using hashtags as the captions but it’s even more cringy to see her, the apparent social media whiz and influencer including apostrophes in the hashtags. This doesn’t work. You can not add punctuation to hashtags and it’s something even the most under-schooled novice knows about social media.
The Truth – There are some people who still use hashtags in the captions as words but it’s really old hat. We haven’t been doing this since about 2016 and this really dates the show. In fact, on Instagram there’s be a mass move away from hashtags and towards content strategy and utilising Reels.
Reading the room
When one of Emily’s clients want to make a perfume ad with a nude woman, she warns him that in the current political climate it reads as a celebration of the male gaze. Emily rightfully tells him this is not a good idea in a post me-too world.
The Truth – Social Media Managers need to be ahead of the curve politically. In marketing when you fail to read the room you end up with that ad campaign that Pepsi did with Kylie and Kendall Jenner during the heated Black Lives Matter movement. Not all press is good press.
There’s no engagement or scheduling
Emily doesn’t appear to do any engagement on her account or on any of the accounts of her clients. It’s strange to say the least that Emily who starts her journey with 48 followers and in a few days has over a thousand followers and hundreds of comments, doesn’t bother to answer or even read them.
In addition to doing zero engagement, Emily doesn’t seem to plan or schedule any content for herself or her clients. She’s never on Facebook business suite or Hootsuite or Later. It’s completely unrealistic to think that every post for her account and her clients is happening in real time. That’s just sloppy social media work.
The truth – A social media coordinator working full time on an account would spend a minimum of an hour a day engaging on that account, to boost the posts and the reach of the account within their ideal targeted audience. They would also respond to comments, monitoring comments for any spam or inappropriate comments. And they would 110% be using a scheduling platform such as Hootsuite, Later or Facebook Business suite.
Having said all of this, we still see a precocious queen with a killer wardrobe and that’s why this series will continue to collect avid fans from every corner of the streaming world.
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