: Today on Follow Friday, we're going to talk about HGTV, hidden treasure, technokings, reply guys, multimillion dollar mansions, Chrissy Teigen, and Spirit Halloween. That's in a minute with Samir Mezrahi from BuzzFeed.
But first, today's show is brought to you by The Edit from Timber. The Edit connects podcasters with industry professionals who will listen to their work and give them really good constructive feedback. Check them out at followfriday.net/timber
: I'm Eric Johnson. Welcome to Follow Friday, a podcast about who you should follow online. Every week, I talk to creative people about who they follow and why. This is a guided tour to the best people on the internet, led by your favorite writers, podcasters, comedians, and more.
If this is your first episode of the show, take a moment now and please follow or subscribe in your podcast app. It's free and you'll get fresh interviews with your favorite creators every week.
Today on the show is Samir Mezrahi, who works on the social media team at BuzzFeed. He's the founder of an excellent meme account called Kale Salad, he's the host of a video series called Celebrity Home Shopping, and the man behind one of the best accounts on Instagram, Zillow Gone Wild.
You can find Samir on Instagram
, and Patreon
at @Samir. Samir, welcome to Follow Friday!SAMIR
: Thanks for having me.ERIC
: So glad to have you here. As I said, I'm a big fan of Celebrity Home Shopping, which is where you break down what you love and what you hate about the homes of the rich and famous. So what's an example of something a lot of celebrity homes do right, and what's an example of something a lot of them do horribly wrong? SAMIR
: I think the obviously wrong thing is the gutters, which I think a lot of people call downspouts. They're probably downspouts. I'll never admit that anywhere else, this is a special admission. But you've got these houses that are so nice and huge, massive, like 10,000 or 12,000 square feet. And in the middle of the wall, they've got this really ugly gutter going down the side of the wall.
The more gables a home has, the more gutters it's going to have, the more downspouts, because the more you have them, the more you've got these little edges and spots that need to direct the water flow.
So McMansions, gaudy homes; they have a ton of these. They've just got gutters and downspouts everywhere. But Drake's home—which was designed by Ferris Rafauli, who's a very famous and really good designer—is 50,000 square feet, but the roofline is just straight across. You don't have any of those. It's so much cleaner and easier and nicer.
That's a thing. They just stick out and so many HOMEies—which is our squad in the show—will send me pictures of terrible gutters they see. And I've taught people about these gutters. I mean, I don't know if I've taught people. I've awoken people to seeing bad gutters in their neighborhoods, around town, everywhere. So people are always sending me pictures or Insta posts or Reels.
Like those McMansion videos on Instagram, people send them to me. And it's always like, "Why are you doing this to me?" It's like, "Don't send this to me. It's hurting me. It hurts my heart."ERIC
: They're torturing you with your least favorite thing. What about something that a lot of celebrity homes get right? Is there anything that you consistently look at and you're like, "Oh, I wish I had this in my life"?SAMIR
: Kitchens are always, usually, pretty good, especially if they've got a butler pantry. I love a butler pantry. You probably wouldn't ever use your kitchen if you got a butler's pantry. You just do everything in the hidden secret kitchen and make a mess in there and no one will ever see. Then your main kitchen is just a nice showroom.ERIC
: Since I've been watching your videos, I've started unconsciously thinking of kitchen space in terms of B.M.S. Do you want to explain what B.M.S means?SAMIR
: Yes. B.M.S is the Butt Measurement System, for which we use peach emojis. It's the distance between your side counters in your kitchen and the island. Typically, I think a three is good.
A lot of kitchens have the sink on one side and the stove on the other side. So if someone is at each of those stations, for someone to be able to walk through easily, that's an optimal scenario. You'd be surprised; some kitchens are really tight and some are too big for no reason. But I think a three all-around is preferred.ERIC
: Well, we could go down the rabbit hole and just talk about kitchens for the next hour, but instead let's find out who Samir Mezrahi follows. And you can follow along with us today — every person Samir recommends will be linked in the show notes and in the transcript at followfridaypodcast.com.
Samir, before the show, I gave you a list of categories, and I asked you to tell me four people you follow, who fit in these categories. Your first pick is in the category, "Someone you don't know, but want to be friends with." And you said Drew and Jonathan Scott, AKA, the Property Brothers. The easiest way to find them is by turning on HGTV at basically any hour of the day.
You can follow Drew on Twitter
, and Facebook
@MrDrewScott, and you can follow Jonathan on those three sites
First, for people who may not have seen one of their many, many TV shows, explain what the Property Brothers do.SAMIR
: Their claim to fame is one of them renovates homes and the other one is a realtor. I think they're all based in Canada. I'm not sure if they've ever made it out of there yet for the show, but they'll meet with a family and find a dream home for them. I honestly don't know which brother does which. I always got to look it up.ERIC
: But they're twin brothers, right?SAMIR
: Yes, there are twin brothers, and there's a third goth brother. A tweet about him goes viral every once in a while.ERIC
: Oh my gosh. I didn't know that.SAMIR
: So, one of the brothers will help a couple find a home, and then the other brother will help them renovate it to be like their dream home. And like you said, now they're in everything, they've got a million shows, they're in every ad. I think they're in Lowe's or Home Depot or one of those places.ERIC
: And they have, I think, both an interior design app and they have their own iPhone game. They are everywhere. How did you first start following them?SAMIR
: I'm a long time HGTV watcher—House Hunters, House Hunters International. I can't remember anything else there but House Hunters is a classic…ERIC
: Flip or Flop, and Love it or List It, all of those.SAMIR
: Totally. I've been a longtime HGTV watcher and I don't know when they exactly bubbled up, but they quickly rose the ranks there. I don't even remember when I started following them but I followed them at some point in the last many years. And for a long time, @ZillowGoneWild
, that was my only follow on that account.ERIC
: Talk a bit about what their work means to you. You're clearly passionate about homes and about design and these sorts of things. Why, specifically, do you choose them here?SAMIR
: I don't want to say that they are the Guy Fieri of the HGTV network because I want to be the Guy Fieri of HGTV someday—but they're the incumbent Guy Fieri of HGTV. I think they've had an impact in the space and now they have a show where they do like Celeb IOU, and they help people with renovations or help famous people's friends or something.
I think they're wholesome and it's positive and it's good content. I think that your home is the biggest part of your life, so I think it should have a big impact on people, a good impact on people.ERIC
: So, when you're watching one of their shows, are you critiquing the design choices they're making? Are you looking at the kitchens they're renovating and going, "That's not enough B.M.S."? Or is this more of a passive, chill out, just float along with the show?SAMIR
: There's definitely some critiquing. The good thing about HGTV is it's passive, but there is definitely some critiquing. Have you watched the show?ERIC
: I've only seen a tiny bit. I have to admit; I'm not the biggest fan of reality shows, the way it pads out to fill an hour. I much prefer a shorter, internet-style video, but I get the appeal 100%.SAMIR
: For sure. One of their cool things is the software they use to show you what their renovation is. It's like, "The walls fall down and the new wall comes up." "Cabinets slide into the room." And it's fun to see the mock-ups and drawings. And the before and after is pretty cool.
They always find something that messes up your budget and you think, "These guys are in trouble. It's going to cost them $20,000." Then the guy is like, "I'm sorry to break it to you." And it's like $400. So, you're like, "Okay, not so bad." They'll be able to work with it. It's within their budget.ERIC
: So, it's this sort of a predictable sort of drama. There will always be a crisis at some point in the show, and then, "Don't worry, we got it. It's under control." There's something reassuring about that, maybe.SAMIR
: There's always the crisis, and not only is it not a problem, well, always some electrical code not up to code; don't let them break the wall down. They'll always find something bad, but they end up fixing the crisis. Then after they fix it, they always will surprise them with something extra, something personal, or something cool that the homeowners don't expect.ERIC
: "When we knocked down this wall, we found buried treasure." No, not really.SAMIR
: It's always bad wiring, or a beam that's not really supposed to be there, or the roof is barely hanging on.ERIC
: A bad kind of surprise.SAMIR
: Treasure would be good; like a room that's not on the plans, something bad.ERIC
: Well, that was the Property Brothers, Drew and Jonathan Scott. You can find them on various social networks @MrDrewScott and @JonathanScott. Samir, let's move on to your next follow. I asked you for someone you're embarrassed to admit you follow. And you said Elon Musk, who is on Twitter @elonmusk
His official title at the electric car company Tesla is "Technoking". He's also the chief engineer of SpaceX, and one time he dressed up as Wario while hosting Saturday Night Live. Let's start with the basics; why do you follow Elon Musk?SAMIR
: I think I was following him for a little while, but I turned on notifications for him for a brief period and even made his tweets my first — which, I don't have notifications for anyone on Twitter. I made it my first TweetDeck column because —this is super shameful—I reviewed his home and his fans are super active, his audience is so engaged and crazy ... crazy good, if any of them hear me.
And this is super shameless, shameful, and pathetic, but I would reply to his tweets with my video and try to get views. I think I got 20,000 views or something. My YouTube channel is pretty small. I've only been doing YouTube for a little under a year. So just trying to get any extra traction there.
I realized, this could be a way to get some views and some reach. ERIC
: You became a reply guy.SAMIR
: I was a reply guy. Most people were like, "This sucks." And then they're like, "I actually watched it and it wasn't bad." But I tried it with some other celebs and no one has a rabidly crazy following like he did; a really well-engaged audience. Probably a lot of crypto scammers or people in the comments trying to get crypto or whatever they're doing in the comments with each other.ERIC
: Everyone's hustling in those comments.SAMIR
: It's a big maybe-we-should-form-a-group-and-we-should-pick-a leader-and-go-from-there in those comments. There's definitely a lot of hustle in those comments. So you've got to be within the first minute or two, or else it's already way too late. You've got to be super fast, or else, everyone is jumping at those comments.ERIC
: Are you embarrassed to admit you follow him because, specifically, of the fact that you were a reply guy or is it because of how he's perceived on the internet? Unpack that part of it for me.SAMIR
: Mostly a reply guy. I think he's a character. You follow a lot of characters; you might not agree with everything they're doing or whatever, but he's definitely an interesting Twitter person. So why not follow him? And CEO ... Is he CEO of Tesla, chairman of Tesla?ERIC
: I think he changed his title officially from CEO and Chairman to "Technoking". I think there's legal paperwork for this, which lines up with how he behaves on Twitter.SAMIR
: Totally. He's the Tesla founder at least, and SpaceX, and The Boring Company or whatever. So he's definitely an interesting person to followERIC
: Maybe talk a little bit about all these tweets of his that you're replying to. What is he tweeting about? For people who maybe have somehow escaped the Twitter version of Elon Musk, talk about how he uses social media.SAMIR
: I did notice some patterns in this. He retweets SpaceX launch stuff, and he replies to people about Tesla car problems, news, info. And then, usually nightly, it seems he does some kind of meme dump where he'll tweet three, four, five, six memes that he seemed to have liked that day.ERIC
: Are you a fan of what his companies are doing? Would you buy a Tesla? Are you the sort of person who is into the projects that he's working on? Or are you more interested in, specifically, his home?SAMIR
: Tesla seems pretty cool. I drove it once. I didn't get one, but the technology is pretty cool and way ahead of everyone else. It's similar to the iPhone in its early days—so far ahead and cool.
I saw a tweet from someone once that going to a Tesla is going from a flip phone to a feature phone. And when I drove it, that felt true, that this car can do things like it knows where every car is on the street. It knows what color the light is hundreds of feet ahead of you. It's so much smarter than any car I've been used to. It seemed pretty cool.ERIC
: So, having studied the way he uses Twitter, what do you think other tech execs can learn from the way he uses social media? Do you think there's some special sauce that helps him connect with his audience? You mentioned, he has a very passionate fan base there.SAMIR
: I think you're got to be careful what you tweet sometimes. I think he's gotten in trouble with the SEC sometimes. He's also got so much money that maybe he's got padding where you don't have to care what the SEC says about what he tweets. He could lose a little bit and still be okay.
He's gotten a taste of being a content creator, I think, which is cool. That's why he posts more because he probably did something years ago on Twitter and he saw the reaction. Like anyone, if you get 10 likes on something that you have done, you'll do it again the next day, and you'll get 20 likes the next day.
But his scale is just Elon Musk scale. I've read before or seen before that getting likes or whatever is that dopamine hit or cocaine hit or whatever they call it. I've never done cocaine. But I could see that he's getting that scale of your post and you get 10,000 retweets in three minutes. That feels cool. And at his scale, it's crazy.
He's probably at Justin Bieber's scale; just having your own army or whatever. I don't know if his fans have a name. He's got a taste of that as a CEO.ERIC
: Well, that was Tesla's "Technoking", Elon Musk
. We're going to take a quick break now, but we'll be back in a minute with Samir Mezrahi from Celebrity Home Shopping.
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Welcome back to Follow Friday. Samir, let's move on to your next follow. I asked you for someone you're jealous of, and you said Enes Yılmazer, who is on YouTube @enesyilmazer
, on Instagram @enesyilmazerla
, and on Facebook @EnesYılmazerOfficial
So, Enes has more than a million subscribers on YouTube. And when you look at his page, it's immediately obvious why so many people are gravitating toward his videos. Explain what he does.SAMIR
: Enes tours mansions, mostly in LA, but he's branched out internationally, all around the US and everywhere, and just like $20 million, $30 million, $50 million, $100 million homes that are the coolest homes you've ever seen. He's got a pretty good lock in that role and is really crushing it there.ERIC
: His videos are ... these are long videos, and they're highly produced deep dives, every room in the house, every angle. Talk about, when you watch the videos that he makes, are you falling asleep? Are you cooking dinner? What's your frame of mind when you were watching an Enes Yılmazer video?SAMIR
: I think, historically, a lot of listings don't show everything and we're used to still photo listings where you don't get the full picture. Even if you do the 3D walkthrough, it's not quite the same. And his videos are just like getting access to these places. You could really see mansions and also the details and info.
Listings might have a paragraph about the home, but talking about, one home had a million-dollar outdoor kitchen with all this stuff out there. So extra details you don't get in a world that most of us never get to see a lot of these homes, unless there's a listing out there.ERIC
: Is there anything from watching his videos that has influenced the way you make either Zillow Gone Wild or Celebrity Home Shopping? Anything that has impacted your own social media activity?SAMIR
: I realized that the bigger the price tag, the more there's interest in the home. I covered Sylvester Stallone's $85 million home, I think. Drake's home is worth almost $100 million. The Weeknd had a $70 million home he bought.
I used to not totally ... They would come across my face and I'd be, whatever. But now, when I see a home that has a mega value, I'll definitely try to figure out a way to cover it because there's more interest, the bigger the price tag. The celeb interest portion is 50% . People care about celebrities, but the price tag gives it an even bigger boost. You'll get people that don't even care about the celeb if the price tag is higher.ERIC
: I was looking at Enes' YouTube channel and there's a $100 million dollar yacht and a $125 million apartment in New York at Central Park. It's amazing how the other half, or how the other 0.001%, lives.SAMIR
: Totally. There's a level of money and homes that you don't see everyday.ERIC
: You specifically mentioned in your email that you're not only jealous of Enes, but also you mentioned his crew. He has editors and camera operators helping him to make these gorgeous videos. So talk about that. What do you like about the larger aesthetic of Enes' videos?SAMIR
: They're produced well and are able to ... Mike Ayers is someone on there. I think they've hired some other people as well, but just being able to go see these places in these homes and to be able to craft it together to bring it out to the public. I think that's pretty cool.ERIC
: They're gorgeous videos, I have to say. I was amazed at how good they look—TV quality stuff.SAMIR
: Totally. And Celebrity Home Shopping, I'm in a green screen and critiquing homes. Phase two, maybe I'll be at celebrity homes actually reviewing them in person. I'm definitely jealous to actually get to see some of these homes and these views and these amenities. Butler's pantries in person would be cool to see, maybe was my hands in the sink.ERIC
: I obviously want you to have an HGTV show. I want you to do whatever your heart desires with this show, but I kinda like the lo-fi green screen aesthetic. I don't know. It works for me.SAMIR
: No, I'm not complaining. It's fun. It's easy. It's definitely interesting, but it would be cool to see some of these homes and these views, to get an upfront sense of the scale. I was in LA last week or two weeks ago, and you know The One, that $350 million home?ERIC
: No, I don't know this.SAMIR
: This guy built this-- it was supposed to be a $500 million home in Bel Air and he finally finished it and it's $350 million, 100,000-plus square feet. He defaulted on the loans. There's a big drama about. It has a nightclub. It's crazy.
I drove up there just wanting to see it a couple of weeks ago, and it's massive. It looks like a mall with a parking garage. It's unbelievable, 100,000 square feet. I think it's one of the biggest homes in North America, if not the biggest one.ERIC
: At a certain point, you can't call that a home anymore. It's a mall. It's a warehouse.SAMIR
: It's definitely on the crazy crazy side. But when you're actually at these places... I've seen so many of these homes that sometimes they feel small to me at 10,000 square feet from looking at pictures. I'm so used to them. Then I'm like, "Oh, 10,000, whatever. Okay. 30,000, that's much better for us." I actually think that you get a better sense of what 10,000 square foot homes really are.ERIC
: Right. Well, that was Enes Yılmazer, who is on YouTube @enesyilmazer
We have time for one more follow today. Samir, I asked you for someone who makes you laugh and you said Nick Lutsko, who is on Twitter
@NickLutsko, and on YouTube @NicholasRyanLutsko
. Nick is a songwriter and comedian. How did you start following him? Why does he make you laugh?SAMIR
: I think I started following him because he had this video about Chrissy Teigen unfollowing him. He wanted her to follow him back. So he writes about these rock ballads, maybe in his basement, I'm not sure where he is, and they're so funny. They're humorous.
There's a little top part of the song where he talks to the camera and there's a chorus and then he's sweating and it's really intense. It's really funny to me. Any time he makes a new one, I'll share it with people.
[clip from "Chrissy Teigen Unfollowed Me on Twitter
No one I know cares about him. No, let me take that back. I share to people, and I'm like, "I love this," but it's a very specific humor too.ERIC
: And as I understand it, there's lore in his videos. He has running jokes that stretch from video to video?SAMIR
: I think he remade a Gremlins movie? He wanted to make a Gremlins movie? I think he starred his self-written Gremlins movie. He's got this Irishman joke that's going on. He definitely has his own cult following and people make memes of him. I think they want him to be on SNL, but his videos are really funny.ERIC
: That's the thing with something like SNL. Even if you haven't watched the Queen's Gambit, you can watch Anya Taylor-Joy on that show and it's like, "Oh yeah, I've seen her doing that pose. I've seen the pictures of her sitting at the chessboard with her hands underneath her head." so she can make a joke about that and it's like, "I get that." You can get it without having seen the actual show.
I feel like someone like Nick, you really need to watch these videos to get why they're so funny and why they're so brilliant.SAMIR
: I'm not a musician. I can't play any music. I wish I could write songs like this and make ballads like this. It's so funny and so cool to me.ERIC
: At the time of this taping, all of Nick's social media pages are covered in content relating to Spirit Halloween. You're familiar with the Spirit Halloween trilogy that he's made?SAMIR
: Not specifically, but in talking about memes, there are so many Spirit Halloween memes popping up like, "They replaced Facebook's server centers with their own stores." I guess this time of year, they're taking over any space they can to sell Halloween merch.ERIC
: Well, it goes beyond that. You should look this up. As far as I can tell—I went down a rabbit hole this morning watching some of these videos—it seems like Spirit Halloween asked Nick to make them a viral video song, like "make us a theme song."
[clip from "Spirit Halloween Theme
And he did, and it was a huge hit. And he's done two more music videos for them since then, but in his very weird, sweaty, in-jokey style.SAMIR
: He's bleeding from his face. It's really crazy.ERIC
: He just released the third video in the series and it picks up, I guess, a year after the second video that came out last year. And it's a post-apocalyptic hellscape where he's proposing that we rebuild everything in the world as Spirit Halloweens.
[clip from "Spirit Halloween Theme"]
On that topic, what are you doing for Halloween? Are you going dressed up as anything?SAMIR
: No plans yet, but it seems you'll see a lot of the Squid Game costumes out there. I saw you can already get them on Amazon. I don't know how people can turn these products around so fast, but it seems like it will be a pretty hot thing. What about you?ERIC
: No, I don't know yet. I'm going to Outside Lands, music concert in San Francisco. So I'm trying to figure out, should I go dressed up in costume? I don't know if that's a good idea or not.SAMIR
: You gotta check the dress code, yeah. ERIC
: What about in the past? Do you have an all-time favorite, best Halloween costume you've done? SAMIR
: I was Lenny Kravitz one year.ERIC
: Oh, that's good.SAMIR
: I can't remember any other ones. That was probably one of my favorite ones. What about you?ERIC
: Oh, in the past? I should have had an answer to my own question ready. One year in college, I was Ash Ketchum. I bought the hat on eBay and I had a little stuffed Pikachu. I went to Walmart and cobbled together a costume from odds and ends around there. I'm very proud of how that costume turned out. And I had a friend draw on my face the little anime-style squiggles that he has on his face, in lieu of freckles.SAMIR
: I feel everyone gets one very good Halloween costume that outshines all their costumes in their life. They make it work once, at least.ERIC
: Well, I gotta go watch Squid Game and maybe I can actually understand what's happening this year.SAMIR
: It's only eight or nine episodes, so it's definitely worth it.ERIC
: Oh my gosh. All right. Let's do it. Well, that was Nick Lutsko, who is on Twitter
Samir, thank you so much for coming on the show, and sharing these follows with us. Before we go, let's make sure our listeners know how to find you online. You are in a lot of different places online. Where do you want them to follow you?SAMIR
on Instagram. On YouTube, you've got to search for me, Samir or Celebrity Home Shopping
. I'm still trying to get YouTube to give me the Samir URL. Then Instagram
@celebrityhomeshopping. On Facebook.... You want me to tell you everywhere?ERIC
: Yeah, wherever you want.SAMIR
: Lots of places. They should check out Zillow Gone Wild
, too. It's been pretty fun the last year with that. That's biggest on Instagram, so it's probably the place to follow that.ERIC
: Great account. I love Zillow Gone Wild. Well, you can follow me on Twitter @HeyHeyESJ
and this show on Twitter
, and TikTok
@followfridaypod, and you can find clips from the show on youtube at followfriday.co/youtube
Follow Friday's theme music was written by me and performed by Yona Marie
. Our show art was illustrated by Dodi Hermawan
. That's all for this week. This is Eric Johnson reminding you to talk about people behind their backs, and when you do, say something nice.
See you next Friday.