5 Social Marketing Takeaways From Emily in Paris

The new Netflix show is getting mixed reviews on reality

emily in paris selfie
Emily in Paris is a lesson in influencer marketing. Netflix
Headshot of Karen Freberg

Marketing and pop culture have always been connected, especially when Hollywood makes the character work in the field. We have seen public relations on display in Sex and the City, advertising in Mad Men and crisis communications in Scandal. Social media marketing is now under the spotlight in Netflix’s new show Emily in Paris.

Actress Lily Collins plays Emily Cooper, a marketing executive from Chicago who heads to Paris to be part of Savoir, a French marketing firm specializing in luxury brands. The show brings to life Emily’s journey working in social media while navigating working and living in a new city, juggling learning a new language, marketing practices and social norms.

The show got one thing right off the bat: highlighting the importance and prestige of being profiled in Adweek, which is a great professional accomplishment to have in the social media marketing industry.


The fame has gone to our heads a bit. #famous @juliangumbo @konakafe @jesszafarris @netflix #netflix #cameo #emilyinparis

♬ The Presenter (Instrumental v2) – BLVKSHP

But audience reviews of the show have been mixed, especially about how Emily utilizes social media and what she does for Savoir’s clients. Here are some social media marketing takeaways from Emily in Paris.

Personal branding

Emily in Paris puts personal (or even personality) branding front and center. It is not only about what you know and who you know, but who knows you. Whether you agree with how she did this or not, Emily’s consistency in her brand voice, content and messaging resulted in professional opportunities. In social media marketing, having a personal brand that showcases expertise and personality can open doors in the field.

No monitors

Emily in Paris presents a simplistic view of what social media marketing really is as a field. Posting selfies and adding text natively on a photo is simplistic in nature. Social media marketing is much more than this, having matured to be aligned near the same level of importance as other key specialized areas in the marketing field. Where are the analytics reports from listening and monitoring trends on social? Why isn’t Emily working with multiple screens on social media dashboards for her clients at her desk? Why is Emily focused on engagement as a key metric for success rather than other business- and communication-oriented objectives? Why isn’t Emily engaged on Marketing Twitter, communicating with other professionals to learn, network and bounce around ideas?

Slice of agency life

Emily in Paris presents a small window into what it is like working in social media marketing in another culture. Taking off while at work? Going to lunch for three hours? What’s more true is that working from home late nights while juggling different areas of specialization such as reputation management, event planning, content creation, influencer marketing and strategic planning is normal for the agency world. However, social media marketing involves more than just these areas. What is missing is the lack of research and collaboration that happens within an agency with digital, creative and research. In addition, most social departments or teams in agencies involve more than just one person.

Influencer marketing

Emily in Paris highlights do’s and don’ts in influencer and creator relations. Emily was able to bring her presence to life with her social media account @EmilyInParis. In the show, Emily was invited to an influencer event, and while others were posting selfies and promoting themselves (and not the products or brands that were hosting the event), she was a real fan of the makeup account and made sure the content reflect why she liked the account and was not there just for the experience, free swag or the paycheck. This was a basic lesson in Influencer Marketing 101.

@kfreberg Karen Freberg is an associate professor in strategic communications at the University of Louisville and is a member of Adweek's Academic Council.