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The Glamor and the Drudgery of Social Marketing

October 24, 2020

Social marketing is always visible in the media, in one way or another. But the same cannot be said of the social marketing industry, specifically.

I recently pointed out that a Netflix documentary had brought new attention to the perceived problems and negative consumer trends regarding social media. There were lessons to derive from this which could be applied to social media marketing. But a movie or series about the effects of social marketing is not the same as a movie or series about the industry itself.

Fortunately for anyone who’s interested, Netflix has you covered in this area as well. One of the streaming giant’s biggest recent hits is a series called “Emily in Paris,” and it puts the actual process of social marketing front-and-center by making it the title character’s career.

As you might guess from the title, the show also makes the industry at least somewhat glamorous. In this sense, it is arguably a sort of antidote for the aforementioned documentary, “The Social Dilemma.” But a positive depiction of social marketing is not necessarily an accurate one. And so “Emily in Paris” potentially creates its own problems for industry professionals and their would-be clients.

Adweek did a write-up on the show and highlighted some of the ways in which it depicts social marketing. The main point was that some aspects of that depiction seemed unrealistic, though the article didn’t drawn and firm conclusions about how the show might either benefit or harm certain viewers.

Strict criticism would have been surprising, since Adweek features in the show as a marker of Emily’s burgeoning success. But I have no such conflict of interest, so I don’t mind pointing out that the unrealistic elements of Emily’s professional life threaten to sidetrack some viewers if they try to break into social marketing themselves, either professionally or as a hobby.

The main problem is also a very familiar one. Because Emily’s social marketing process is pretty simplistic, it would be easy for people to conclude that they can take it upon themselves to market their business without distracting too much from their other operations.

In reality, this is rarely the case. And if you feel you have a lot on your plate with regard to the actual running of your business, you’ll probably find yourself scrambling to hire someone to take over the marketing once it proves to be too much for you. This is because even though at-work selfies and captioned images of your product might seem fun to produce, it’s a lot less fun to strategically plan the placement and timing of those posts, then analyze their impact.

There’s a lot of complex and technical work involved in social marketing, and unfortunately it doesn’t make for good television. For the sake of my own ego, I’m not going to say that the field can’t be as glamorous as it seems for Emily in Paris. But for the sake of readers stress levels, it’s important that I note it can’t be like that all the time.

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