A looping video from influencers

From podcasts to zoom workshops, friendship is big business

My close friends and i like to spend time together. Of course, we all think of pandemic precautions these days. But we eat, walk, and talk for as long as our schedules allow. Meanwhile, we could do so much more with our friendship – like building a brand and making money.

Take a look around the internet and you will see two high profile best friends doing just that. You start successful podcasts about friendship and then write bestsellers based on those podcasts. They lead workshops on creativity and collaboration, and even propel one another to political glory. Before Covid, these two also showed up at conferences – mostly at women’s gatherings – to talk about building friendships, but also about their careers.

2020 was hard for friendships; The pandemic, with its enforced lockdowns and careful pod planning, had strained even the closest relationships. If there is anything that this year has made clear, it is that friendship, especially in challenging times, is a never-ending project, a work in progress. For a happy couple, friendship also turns into a profitable business.

The connection between friendship and earnings may have started with the seminars and self-help books of the past few decades, but it evolved on Facebook, the most asexual social network, which co-opted the sacred relationship in likes, data, and algorithms. It currently lives on with friends trying to sell you stuff in DMs thanks to tiered marketing plans. And of course there is always the option to hire a friend on your next trip to Japan online through Client Partners, a company that specializes in hired guides and hosts who can advise customers, have uninhibited fun with them and comfort them, if necessary.

In the tech world, many investors are quicker to give money to startups born of friendship because they believe two co-founders are better than one. When it comes to consumer products, companies are owned by friends media catnip. (A fun bonus: Friendtrepreneurs make for perfectly symmetrical images that go with the articles, which are practically self-writing thanks to the delightful stories about where friendship’s origins come from.) On social media, # Squadgoals – a hashtag that describes glamorous groups of friends who Once culturally appropriated and popularized by Taylor Swift’s glamorous group – was born and then died, but the notion that friendly hangouts lead to marketable, sexy Instagram stories lingered, leading to technical influencer friendships and branding collaborations. It is now common for influencers to team up to expand their reach in creating sponsored content for brands. Exhibiting friendship appeals to followers.

The WIRED guide for influencers

Everything you need to know about commitment, power, sponsorship, and trust.

All of this means that the commodity of friendship has been with us for a while. This time around, we’re experiencing the easiest – or most annoying – iteration to date. The best of friends band together to market and sell the friendship themselves. Technology helps as always.

Best friends and writers Aminatou Sow and Anne Friedman started the Call Your Girlfriend podcast in 2014. Every weekly episode is filled with fun long distance calls (Friedman lives in LA, Sow in NYC). Now the duo have written a new book called Big Friendship: How We Keep Close. In it, a perfect quote shows how naturally grown creativity can be packaged for consumption: “It was a small part of our friendship, taken out of context and polished and published,” they write. Big Friendship, based on the duo’s podcast, became a NYT bestseller shortly after its release earlier this year. Sow has over 90,000 Instagram followers. Her feed is peppered with comments from Kamala Harris’ niece Meena Harris and pictures with celebrity writer Zadie Smith. Friedman is a frequent guest speaker at technical events and media conferences. While the book records the ups and downs of the two’s friendships and tries to capture a universal experience, much of Big Friendship is devoted to the specific stories and career paths of women.