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What brands can learn from the Miley Cyrus effect

Thursday, August 29th, 2013 by Sam Osborne

In the big bad world of the internet, it’s important to keep your brand at the forefront of your industry. Providing great content and staying active on social media is one way in which this can be achieved, however there are certain faux pas that brands can frequently fall into.

Welcome to the Cyrus Effect
The Cyrus Effect

Kevin Mazur / WireImage for MTV / Getty Images

It’s four days after the VMAs (Video Music Awards) and there is still a whole lot of buzz around Miley Cyrus’ performance. I didn’t watch it, but I have been unable to avoid it. Yesterday, the Metro had a page dedicated to her performance; even a brief five minutes on Twitter and Facebook meant the Cyrus effect was constantly being pushed into my favourite news feeds. All of this may sound great, but most comments and news stories had a negative sentiment.

Cyrus Related Mentions

So acting like a juvenile at 20 years old is an excellent way to get a lot of media attention, but is this really the type of attention she wants? If a business was to act like this, what would that say about them?

There have been many negative memes published in the last few days, many of which I am unable to post here due to their unsuitability. The unfortunate thing is that being a celebrity, Cyrus does have millions of young fans – all of whom may now think that this sort of thing is acceptable. Herein lays the real problem with the Cyrus effect…

How to avoid the Cyrus effect

Brands have a responsibility to their customers and although a little fun and games can go a long way (as demonstrated by the recent book shop back and forth – http://www.buzzfeed.com/aarong31/three-bookshops-had-a-twitter-fightand-it-ruled-dmhw), there is such a thing as ending up with egg on your face.

A more sensible way to represent your business is to present a positive, friendly and authoritative picture. This not only tells current and potential consumers that you provide a quality product, but also that you are thankful to your client base and want to give back a little.

Social media engagement

Social media can really push your business forward – not only with consumers, but also within the search engines. Social media ensures that your brand is in front of the right people and engaging with them helps you create a connection.

Certain companies choose to focus on Twitter, as this is the right channel for their audience.  South West Trains does this well; monitoring certain words and responding to ensure that the original tweeter is engaged with. This means that a personal connection can be made and brings the business down from a fare-increasing corporate to a company trying to do the best it can.

With that in mind, here are our top tips for social media use:

  • Do respond to messages from people, as this builds a relationship and shows you care
  • Don’t be afraid of a little friendly banter, but try to keep it just that – don’t go over the top like Cyrus
  • Do make your social experience an enjoyable one, as it will help your brand grow naturally. Rising too fast may cause the Cyrus effect to grab hold and it will come crumbling down in the end
  • Don’t just post messages for the sake of it; keep your content focused towards your followers’ interests, rather than just trying to be outrageous for the sake of seeing your brand name in the news
Fresh content

There is a knack to publishing content directly from a business – get it wrong and your efforts are wasted. Get it right and you’ll see the benefits. Publishing content about your industry can show users that as a business you are just as interested in what you do as they are in your product.

Secondly, if you write guides on how to improve users’ experience with your product or type or service, you could push consumers through the sales funnel. In addition, utilise your customer support team to ensure frequently asked questions are answered on the website.

So, how can you keep your content fresh?

  • Review your analytics data to see what people are actually reading and engaging with. Churning out content that no-one is interested in is a waste of time and money. Maybe Miley should read the news and see what people are saying about her…
  • Make the content interesting… A tomb of information about the health and safety aspects of a popcorn maker is terribly boring. Instead, write about exciting recipes and pass on information about where people can get flavoured popcorn, for example. Whilst this is an area Miley Cyrus may have gotten right, everything she does is over the top – this gets old quick and generally ends with negative press.
  • Newsjack certain events if they can be related to your business or industry. Keep this content informative and you could benefit from the additional trending topics
  • Respond to comments made on your content. If someone has a question that is not covered in the article, either answer it in full or answer in brief and provide a link to more information. Leaving customers in the lurch about what may seem trivial questions can lead to a lack of repeat business
The final piece of the puzzle

The most important thing to do reputation-wise is to be honest. If your business has a technical fault and users cannot utilise your service, publish a tweet, Facebook message and a blog post as early as possible, making users aware of the situation.

So if you feel like giving something back to your customers, don’t catch the Cyrus effect. Instead, be engaging, be informative and (most importantly) don’t try to be something you’re not. This will only end with large amounts of twerking… No-one wants to see that!

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About the author

Sam Osborne

Sam Osborne

Sam Osborne has worked in digital marketing for over five years and prior to joining Vertical Leap as a Campaign Delivery Manager worked as head of digital for a digital media agency.