The Emma Chamberlain Effect: How to Stay Relatable & Center Your Content in Your Audience – Ep. 34

James Nord
October 12, 2022
Updated Feb 09, 2024

Welcome to Negronis with Nord. Today’s episode is about Emma Chamberlain and her ability to remain true to her audience even with fame & wealth. Sophie and James discuss how to not lose sight of your audience and their needs as you grow and evolve. You can submit your questions for future episodes here.

Below is a transcript of the full episode for your reading pleasure. Make sure to subscribe to the Fohr YouTube channel to get notified of new episodes.

Bonjour, welcome to Episode 34. *tips beret*

James: Welcome Negronis with Nord episode 34. I feel like maybe we need to like change the name of the show. I'm like very rarely drinking negronis anymore. I digress. We've Sophie Wood in the house again. Welcome back for your maybe fourth episode. Right?

Sophie: Thanks for having me. Always a pleasure.

James: I appreciate the hat. You really, you're you're bringing it.

Sophie: Bonjour!

James: Yeah. I mean, you know, you're inspiring me. Maybe I will not that one. That would, that would not be a good look for me. But

Sophie: I know the hair height.

James: Yeah. And I mean I don't have a face for hats when you take the hair away, it's not good. It's like you're just left with a face and, and like honestly So yeah, when I do wear a hand I wear a cowboy hat, which is basically a costume. And again, once again, nobody is looking at you. They're looking at your cowboy hat, which again, side note, it is wild how many compliments you get wearing cowboy hat in New York City.

Sophie: I love a good cowboy hat.

What's the Emma Chamberlain effect?

James: Yeah, I saw you shared Emma Chamberlain's house store on your Instagram. Right. And I think many people came to the realization in the last week that holy ****, Emma Chamberlain is really, really rich. You had mentioned when we were talking about this like, oh, I wonder if there was a spike in Emma Chamberlain net worth searches on Google. And we looked it up and there was an enormous spike in that.

And I think one, she's got great taste. The house is lovely, right? You co-sign Gen Z, geriatric millennials. They love it all the same. You know this is a cross-generational interest, but it does seem like it may be surprise some people. Was that, is that accurate? Do you feel that way? Yes, that it did. Okay. Yes. What's so interesting about it is there's, there's this, all this conversation about like, are people getting fatigue from influencers? Are they trying to follow influencers who have a job? We talked about that in the last episode. She has done something which is really difficult, which has become really successful, yet still feel like she has like held onto her audience, which she built making pretty relatable content. I was not an early follower. I don't know how long you've been following

Sophie: Oh yeah. I was an angel investor in Emma Chamberlain.

James: It does seem like she's been able to hold that audience in a way that a lot of influencers haven't and a lot of influencers have gotten really, really rich and their lives have changed dramatically and they no longer look anything like their audiences. And I think Emma's audience maybe really fully realized that last week when they saw her house that holy to start off the conversation as an angel investor, what, how did she do it?

Sophie: I think when Emma started out she was really young. She was like 14 obviously at that point you don't have dispensable income. You're living with your parents, you're living at home. And it was just like vlogging alone in her bedroom and just like having a conversation or like sharing her interest or saying that she feels sad.

And obviously she got really big over the course of, I don't know, the last eight years or something like that. I think she's 21 now. And she did a really good job of when she got richer and got successful not making that the point of her content and having still something to say and something to connect with. Cause something that we talked about was like as a 21 year old, her audience is probably around that age and doesn't have that same income. It's not gonna be entertaining to them. And it'll probably be annoying to them if she's showing like luxury halls or talking about flying first class was like a good example that you talked about when we were discussing this earlier. And I think it's that still making the core of her content something to say rather than something to just show off.

"[Emma] did a really good job of when she got richer and got successful not making that the point of her content and having still something to say and something to connect with." - Sophie Wood

James: Right. It's interesting how much restraint she shows, right? Because this part in her life must be super exciting. I mean that shower she has is at least a hundred thousand dollars of marble. And this is something you've just, as you get older, you just learn, you can look at a shower and say that's a hundred thousand dollars shower. Like how many times I've seen people going to the marble warehouse and picking their slab out, right? And they're like, they got the ******* crane and they're picking up this marble and they're like, Which one should I get A or B? And it's like, oh **** yourself. I don't care. She didn't take anyone along for that journey. She doesn't really post in her house. She's at Paris Fashion Week right now and she like posted that like, you know, a couple of like luve looks, which I'm sure she got paid for.

And then like a photo of her like in a, in a hotel bed like with the covers up to her face or something. Right? Like she is not flexing on people and she's like making I think a really conscious choice to not share this stuff. (Mm-Hmm <affirmative>), do you think she's been able to do a good job because like she is like working with Tom Brown and she is getting dressed by Chanel, she is like in this whole different space. Is there anything else you feel like that like the way she's approaching this like life change that has wor made it work?

Sophie: That's hard. Cause I feel like it's the same. I feel like it is the restraint. Like I don't, Do you think there's something else to it?

James: I think restraint is huge, actually. Like super impressed being as young as she has and again, and how she's worked years for this. This wasn't like an overnight success. It would be exciting to be spending all of this money and to be able to afford these things and she's not talking about it. I also do feel like there's like an attitude of like a sense of wonder and excitement still that like it's exciting for her. So you feel excited for her influencers like unboxing like another Chanel bag or something and it's just kind of like very much like it's a Tuesday.

Sophie: Yeah. I mean I think yes, I agree And I even think the way she opened the Architectural Digest, it was like, come on and I've been waiting for this my whole life. Like she was still so excited. It wasn't like, 'Hey AD welcome to my home like la la la another day in the life.' It was like you could tell she was so excited and I think that makes her viewers excited for her like we got here together. And also showing in her content that she's still excited about really normal things. Like when she goes to Europe with her dad, they're going into gift shops and buying little trinkets for $2 that like somebody else would be excited about that's watching her videos. And I do think it's definitely the restraint and the attitude.

James: And I think also like a willingness to, to make a fool of herself and be like playful. Like cuz there is like, if you look on her Instagram, it is like a, this mixture of like, it's a Vogue shoot she was in and then it's like her in like Chuck's doing something kind of silly and stupid and just being like a kid. Yeah. And she's like enjoying this new part of her life but it's not like, it doesn't, I guess like it doesn't feel like she's trying that hard. Mm-Hmm <affirmative> to like impress anyone.

How to evolve through success without losing your audience

James: Something we were talking about is that so many of these like legacy influencers who've been doing it for 10, 15 years, you know, they now are making great money. Many of them probably making well over a million dollars a year living lives that are like completely unrecognizable to their followers. Totally acceptable for your tastes to change and for your life to change. Right? But how do you like take people along on that?

And I think what we're seeing in TikTok, and I want your, your thoughts here is that like this is happening much faster mm-hmm. <Affirmative> than it used to. Right? Like if you were 22 years old and you started creating content when Tumblr came out in 2006, you probably didn't make a dime off of that content for 10 years because the industry just wasn't there. Mm-Hmm <affirmative> now you start today you get, you know, 250,000 followers in nine months you could start making a really good living. Right. And so that those changes can happen much faster. Yeah. Like are you seeing any backlash to, to these creators whose lives have changed really quickly and who are now like young and making a lot of money?

Sophie: Yeah, I mean absolutely. There's a good example of that going around right now, which is Mikayla and don't know how to pronounce her last name, but she is like a very famous talker beauty person. Oh,

James: From Boston, right?

Sophie: Yes. She has said that she prefers Sephora so there's that. Yeah, she worked her regular job and then was able to do content full time. But right now there's a sound bite of her going viral from a video that was so long ago of her saying like 'I just got off of work and it's five o'clock. You try being an influencer for a day,' saying like what I do is hard and people are just ripping her to shreds using that sound as like a meme. But also she did kind of fall into that I now have an insane amount of disposable income so I'm gonna buy Dior bags and Chanel and Gucci and it's like I literally came to you for like makeup recommendations. Like I don't really care that you are flaunting this in my face.

And I don't know, It's also funny, last night I went to a concert and we ended up leaving early because it was like the speaking in between the songs was so like self righteous and felt a little bit like you're here for me, blah blah blah. And I was like, I paid to be here. Like why are you speaking to me like this that we. I feel like it's similar where it's kind of like why are you flaunting this in my face? Yeah. Like I was here to support you and now I feel weird and almost like offended by this. Yeah. Like that's not what I came here for.

James: And I think influencers lose, and this is true of all artists, right? That like their audience gives them their lifestyle. Mm-Hmm <affirmative>, I do think that people lose sight of that and they start creating content that is very like them focused and centric. Right. Not like how can I create something that is going to bring my audience, you know, some joy we talk about like entertain, educate or inspire. Right. Often I think the content I get frustrated with isn't doing any of that. It's literally bragging.

Sophie: Yeah. And I think to that point it's also like you can only say like this is only possible because of you guys so much. It's like I don't really care. Like I think people blanket the luxury halls with like, I'm so grateful. I know I'm so privileged this is all for, it's like, but that's also not what I came for again, to your point.

How to center your content in your audience

James: So how are you like centering that in your audience? Right. I think like, I think we're in this period on social where like there is this like desire to brag and who's got the most stuff and who's spending the most money and you know, super influencer Kim, like she's never been shy about flaunting like she drives that dis that terrible ******* Lamborghini truck with like all the like matted out with all the like kit anyway <laugh>.

But yeah, they don't, they don't, they like lose sight of the audience and I think they get so enamored with their life and I think you have less time to create content. This is something we talked about before with Emma specifically. If you look at the videos, it was like a hundred a year, 70, 50, 35, you know. And it's like, yeah it gets harder when you're sitting in the bedroom with nothing to do. You can create a video once a week easy when you're traveling around the world and you've got all these commitments and you are on TV and you're in shoots. Like it's harder.

It is interesting to think how influencers can continue to center their content in their audience when their life no longer looks like their audience's. If you do you, is there anyone else we can think of or like does that successfully? Because I think what's tough is you don't wanna be an authentic, right? You don't want to be wearing designer clothing every day and then doing like an old Navy haul. Yeah. Right. Like that's not really gonna make sense.

Sophie: I mean, I mean I honestly think another example of it to me is Casey Neistat, like again with the amount of videos is so few and far between now, but I think it does come down to you having something to say and the original thing that you connected to your audience with and that being of substance and not being of luxury material. And like now that Casey Neistat is back in New York made a YouTube video about it, I'm like stoked. I'm like the air is different. And that's someone who I've been watching for a decade. Yeah.

And again he has millions and millions of dollars but that's not what his videos are about. Like I can tell that he is driving the new Land Rover defender but that's not what the video is about. Like it's about his love of New York coming back here feeling grounded again, feeling creative that is nothing to do with mm-hmm <affirmative> your luxury haul. And so I think they're both Emma and Casey are similar in that way, that they were able to keep the center of their content so grounded in like a mutual understanding or feeling or some kind of mutuality between them and their audience that has stayed consistent from beginning to hear. And it's funny because like even Travis will be listening to Emma Chamberlain's podcast with his daughter in the car. It's like they just love hearing what she has to say because again, it's not about the luxury, it's about that mutuality.

"I think both Emma and Casey are similar, that they were able to keep the center of their content so grounded in a mutual understanding or feeling between them and their audience that has stayed consistent from the beginning." - Sophie Wood

James: Right. You know, for anyone in, in kind of any part of their journey as an influencer. I think just an important reminder to like be really explicit about like why does my audience follow me? And making sure that whatever content you're creating is like fulfilling that need. You know, while you won't lose your audience instantly. I mean I think you know Mikayla, my mom sent me that TikTok account a year or 18 months ago or something like that and was like, this woman's so amazing. It's so great. She was like working at and now she's super successful and I think I remember seeing a TikTok was like, I bought my first Chanel bag and like that first time it's like that's exciting. I'm proud of you. You have like, you deserve that and you seem really excited the 10th time. Can we just get like beauty tips? Like we're, we're like we're proud of you to a point but like you have to like modulate some of that. Yeah. That content. Right?

Sophie: Definitely. And I think to your point about like the nature of TikTok, it's like you really have to be cognizant of that because you've talked about this before where it's like we are as an audience so down to hype people up to the point of then just like tearing them down right afterwards. It's like it can be the flip of a switch.

James: I mean she's a great example. I mean I feel like she was like, everyone was like this is such a great story. We love this. We did this right Like at TikTok we did this, we changed this person's life and then it was like, we don't like you anymore. Exactly. You're dead to us <laugh>.

It's something we talked about with DonYe is that like creativity is really difficult over a long period of time. Right. And that like the things that excited you about making content your first, second, third year maybe don't excite you in your 10th year. And I think what is difficult probably as an influencer is if what excites you is buying luxury products, you either have to like find a way to bring your audience along on that and teach them something. Like I have this this friend who's a cyclist but it used to work in luxury fashion retail.

And he will often post like these YouTubes from like, like yesterday posted one from Hermès about this silk marbling, which is like a way that they dye their silk scarves. And there's this one family of of three who does this in Japan is the only people left in the world that do this. And the creative director had found this family in this like small city in Japan that like was struggling to keep the factory alive because it's like such an antiquated way to dye silks And Hermès had like, you know, contracted them and they're making these beautiful art together.

And he was like, this is what I miss about sometimes working in luxury fashion is that like it can be an art form, right? And you can teach people if your life isn't relatable, right? You have to probably find a way to make it relatable if that's what you're passionate about. Something I talk about Brian boy a lot. He has this whole shtick of just kind of like he's rich, you know, and he flaunts it but he also like talks a lot about how he believes luxury fashion is really the most sustainable thing that you can purchase. Cause these items will be around probably for a hundred years. You can fix a pair of $1,200 shoes five times and resold them and they won't fall apart. You can give a $10,000 leather jacket to your great grandchildren probably and it will still be around.

Sophie: Yeah. And I think it comes down a lot to like just having a point of view and not just buying luxury for the sake of buying luxury. Like we had also talked about like just because you bought Chanel loafers cuz you saw Hailey Bieber wearing them. Like that doesn't help me. Your POV in no way influenced me. You got that from Hailey Bieber, you have money that I don't have that doesn't help me. Right? Again, I followed you for beauty. So what is this <laugh> like?

A pushback against celebrity and wealth?

James: I think it's a tough balance and I think it's something that influencers are going to continue to run up against, especially as younger and younger creators are becoming more successful and their lives are changing more that like I do think you probably have three to six months where your audience is just happy for you and celebrates it. And it'll be interesting even with Emma now to see like how it goes. But like can any creator survive while being like very publicly wealthy and not have people turn against them? Because it seems like there is this increasing tide to just like hate celebrity. Is this something you're feeling this like general pushback against celebrity and like against that whole culture?

Sophie: Yeah, I mean I think it's definitely like a multi, there's so many levels to this. Yes. I think part of it is like Gen Z is so vocal about their social stance and being like, eat the rich, **** the rich, whatever. But also part of it can come from a place of jealousy or like why does this person have so much money? But also part of it can be like, why are we supporting capitalism and then someone else is like, there's no ethical consumption under capitalism, so let you know. It's like, it's so, there's so many levels to this, but yeah, I do think part of it is that because I do feel like if we were, I don't know, looking back 50, 70 years or something, it was like people wanted to be rich. People voted in the mindset that they were rich even when they were poor because they wanted to believe that they would be rich. But now it's more like,

James: Right. No, it's like how Americans will, will vote for tax cuts for the wealthiest because they, a lot of them believe that will be me.

Anyway, let's keep tracking this. I feel like we could do this in a year and we can see how it goes. I believe Emma can make it happen. I think she's great.

What we can learn from Emma

Yeah, I think she approaches it in the right way. I think she, she centers her content like in what her audience wants. She isn't bragging and I think it's not that hard. I think it's really to your point,

  • Be interesting, have a point of view.
  • Don't forget your audience
  • Ask yourself before you post, 'am I bragging, or is this something I think my audience will find interesting?' And if you're bragging, it's best to just not do it because it's awesome that you're successful. Congratulations. That's sick. Shoving in people's faces over and over again is a great way to get them to hate you.

And Gen Z's coming for you. Like, and nobody wants that, right? Like, I hope Gen Z never, never finds out I exist. That would be awesome. Like I just, if I could just exist outside of Gen Z's knowledge, that would be fantastic for me, I think cuz I don't think I would survive. Thank you so much.

Sophie: Thanks for having me!

Cheers, and thanks for watching.

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