6 lessons brands can learn from Miley Cyrus’ recent string of newsworthy headlines

I’m a little late to the game with this piece but Miley Cyrus’ recent eye opening stunts have been discussed, dissected to the point where we’ve all come to the conclusion that she is heading towards the path of former teen stars who pushed the boundaries of sanity and publicity stunts and fizzled out to be never heard from again.

I think there’s a great marketing lesson to be learned from Miley Cyrus. She’s a perfect example of how you can market products and become a household brand overnight. It takes a little bit of everything – approach, timing and the help of the social community.

Here are 6 lessons brands can learn from Miley Cyrus’ recent string of newsworthy headlines.

Promotion requires the right timing

Promoting content or products at the opportune moment is all the rage these days. Social media allows for content to be delivered at exact moments for users to consume. Ad targeting lets brands target specific individuals with specific products at exactly the moment of purchase. Miley picked the right platform to promote herself and her brand.  We always knew who she was but after the MTV stunt, she became a household name (even if it was for the wrong reasons).  Her VMA performance set a record for most tweets per minute, 306K/minute.  

Brands need to know when the right moment may be for them. It may not always be the big award show with millions of viewers or a specific holiday but could be moments after competitors have pulled back or aren’t as present. It doesn’t work for every brand but understanding where you get the most exposure will benefit how many people actually are aware of your product or content.

Newsworthy follow-ups

Miley Cyrus did an excellent job following up her VMA performance with other attention grabbing headlines, which have continued to keep people talking about her.  First was her new single, Wrecking Ball, performed nude on top of a wrecking ball with her tongue sticking out (it’s her signature, if you haven’t already figured it out).  Then came the Rolling Stone cover with her tongue sticking out again. This past week she dropped another controversial headline to Matt Lauer – after 40, sex is nonexistent.

Brands need to do the same – follow-up with great products or content.  In the social space, promoted content will increase engagement and reach new users but if they don’t engage with any additional content, then the promoted content didn’t completely do its job.  Brands need to have strong follow-ups to any kind of content or product release. Take Apple for example. During the years from 2001 to 2010, they had arguably the greatest decade of innovation ever.  They introduced one great product after another. From the original iPod to the iPod Nano, the iPhone and then the iPad, turning a fledging company into the most iconic tech company in the world.  Remember, your follow up is just as important as your original piece of content or product. 

You don’t have to always create viral content, let others do it for you

After the VMA performance, millions shared GIFs of Miley’s performance. Everyone had an opinion about the performance from the team at Buzzfeed to social media sites like Mashable.  What each one of these websites did was create greater visibility for Miley Cyrus and she didn’t even have to do a thing.  The same thing happened when she launched her “Wrecking Ball” video. A Vine parody took the internet by storm, garnering millions of views, again creating additional visibility without her doing a thing. 

In Miley’s case, those sharing the Vine video and GIFs weren’t her advocates but she let others create viral content for her brand to generate greater visibility.  Brands need to focus on doing the same. Social media is a great channel to make sure fans and followers can be leveraged to speak on behalf of the brand for greater visibility. However, that requires a two-way dialogue while sharing relevant content that matters to fans. It cannot just be blasting content and hoping it goes viral. 

Stay true to your core

Many in the media have questioned why Miley Cyrus does what she does but no one really knows. All we know is that she hasn’t stopped doing it. She’s been true to her core even before her VMA performance.  Her antics may not sit too well with many in the media but it is something to be admired. She’s not giving into criticism, looks like she has a plan in mind – one that is propelling her brand forward (even though many of us may never understand).

Her ability to stay on course and not waver when others told her to be a certain way is what many brands need to focus on.  Brands tend to take criticism and make dramatic changes to cater to those loud few.   Staying on course and continuing to work on your core products is the way to move forward. Competitors will attack your weaknesses but your weaknesses only become a hinderence if you react too soon to every move.

Talent does win out

At the end of the day, in order to be successful, brands still need products and content that performs well. In the case of Miley Cyrus, her talent is undeniable.  Her exposure gave her the opportunity to perform on Saturday Night Live, letting her talent win over “haters”.  After her SNL performance, the web was raving about her great performance. Many forgot that only a few days ago they were criticizing her for antics on magazine covers and award shows.  Great products and content will win over anyone and will lead to greater exposure and most like greater success.

 While many of us look at Miley Cyrus as the next teen star gone crazy, I tend to look at her as an opportunist, who is using the public space to showcase her talent but also display her personality.  Sometimes, being who you are can intimidate others, but a brand that has solid content to back up great products with measurable goals, can do some pretty amazing things.




Facebook updates News Feed algorithm again to cater to news sources but may have long-term consequences with other brands

Facebook is changing the content game again with it’s latest announcement that they will be catering to news sources who share links on Facebook pages in favor of memes and images that are not ‘credible’ sources for content.

This is a completely different strategy for Facebook, as they battle Twitter for real-time news. Twitter has become the go to source for real-time news but Facebook is also hoping to cut into that pie. It’s going to be really hard for them to make this transition. Twitter is as real-time as it gets and as it continues to grow, it’ll be even a bigger source for news. The most recent example is Paul Walker’s death. When his death hit the airwaves, it was Twitter that first revealed that something might have happened. I didn’t see anything on Facebook. It wasn’t until his publicist came out with the official statement, did I see anything on Facebook.

The other rumored change is that Facebook may introduce a new tool that’ll let users bookmark content to read later. Combine this with the News Feed change and it becomes a two-fold approach, sharing more news sources but also giving users the opportunity to save the links. Should the latest rumor come to fruition, it’ll make Pinterest a competitor to Facebook again. Pinterest’s bookmarking service has seen tremendous upside and leading to interesting engagements numbers.

I know I’ve been very critical of Facebook and rightfully so but these latest changes aren’t going to make brands happier even though it could lead to higher revenues for Facebook. Those revenues may not be sustainable long term as brands will continue to get frustrated at Facebook for making paid media the only way to reach all fans on it’s platform.

Developing competing products are also a sign that Facebook is no longer the innovator, instead the copycat (The Poke app is a clear example of that). It’s becoming the Microsoft of the tech world, playing catch up. We’ll have to wait and see how it plays out for Facebook but competitors are nipping at their heels and it’s no longer Google+ and the likes of Path. They’re getting serious competition from apps that are diluting their core products.


Why can’t there be a social network that pays users for their data? Google+ I’m looking at you!

This is going to be a little out there but I seriously think there’s got to be a way to make a sustainable social media business by paying people for their data.  I don’t know why I’ve been thinking about this the past few days but a company like Google can easily turn Google+ into a service where they pay users to continuously be active and engaging on the platform.  

The way I see it,  Facebook and other social media networks won’t have the long-term sustainability like Google search or Twitter can, so why not make money off of highly engaging audiences by giving them a piece of the pie. I view Google+ in the same way Google views the internet – They help host and crawl the web for highly engaging blogs and then sell AdWords or ads against the content.  Bloggers get paid based how many users actively come to their page, read the content and engage.  Some bloggers are even working with brands to be loyal influencers, making additional money on the side.   Why can’t Google+ be the social network to facilitate the same kind of environment, where users get paid to create compelling content, while still making money of their social following by creating partnerships with brands.   Google can then limit the reach of new fans by getting brands to pay to reach the full potential of their followers, similar to the way Facebook does. The big difference is that users of the channel get a cut of the ad dollars, unlike users of Facebook who get nothing.  I think it’ll go a long towards creating a compelling social network, where users will actively engage, fans will come to read awesome content – otherwise no one will come back, and Google can still make a ton of money. They may not make the billions up on billions they make of search but they can be the “good guys” here, by paying users for selling their data to brands for targeted ads.

I think there’s an amazing opportunity to make just a little less money while still giving users the opportunity to create marketplaces within a social network. Think about the amount of money active Google+ users can make, the same way many Facebook Pages make money from brands – we know this is actively happening. It’s the power of the internet.

In a perfect world, it wouldn’t have to be Google+ but I think they are poised to do something amazing here, while taking Google+ up a notch in a way that leaves Facebook scrambling to react.




Pinterest’s Place Pins isn’t a shocker but could increase users and engagement

Pinterest updated their platform today, putting an emphasis on mapping by putting Place Pins within boards to create an interactive board that will allow users to plan trips and locate content.

The news wasn’t shocking to me.  While Pinterest has been a go to destination to plan events, especially weddings, it’s also a destination to create boards on places you’ve been to and want to visit.  I, along with many of my friends, have two boards that are unique to travel.  I don’t update it as often as I should but those boards are there for me to showcase everywhere I’ve been and want to go.  These boards are an indication that Pinterest is now capitalizing on a unique opportunity created by their user-base.

I’m a big fan of the new update and plan to start using Pinterest a bit more to see how I can benefit from it. I usually have two major trips every year so, when planning trips, especially international trips, it could be a great way to visually share things I’m doing and would like to do by letting friends share those images with me.  

However, consumers may use the platform in a variety of ways but it doesn’t always correlate to new updates from the platform.  For Pinterest, this is a new focus, one that is sure to generate additional users  -something they’re lacking and need to put a greater emphasis on after raising a new round of funding that values them at $3.8 billion.

Do you think you’ll use Pinterest’s mapping features? Did you already have boards that were specifically for travel?  


Getting excited about gadget purchases: iPhone 5s, iPad Air and Sonos Play:1

I haven’t had a chance to update this blog on my latest gadget purchases. So here goes! I recently bought the iPhone 5S and this weekend, the iPad Air.  Last weekend, I bought a paid of Sonos Play:1s. 

Both the Apple products are next generation evolutions of Apple’s flagship products. I went with the white versions for both of them and didn’t get cases that cover them up. Something about the white just looks great without being hidden by an ugly case. 

The iPhone 5S is very similar to the iPhone 5 I previously owned but the few seconds I save using TouchID make a huge difference. I’ve never been someone who used a password on a phone but with TouchID, I don’t even think twice about it. The phone itself is slightly faster than the 5 and iOS 7 is great even though it wasn’t new to me since I used the beta version for months leading up to the public release of iOS 7. 

The iPad Air on the other hand was a nice surprise. I forgot how much I missed having an iPad while watching TV or reading on the train.  And since the new iPad Air is lighter, thinner and faster than any previous iPad, it made all the sense for me to get it. My last iPad was the Mini, which I absolutely loved, but it didn’t include Retina Display and I missed the larger screen size of the iPad 3.  I thought about buying the Mini again with Retina Display but Apple raised the price of the Mini and with only a $100 difference between the Retina Display Mini and iPad Air, the iPad AIr was the easy choice. 

The Sonos purchase was a huge surprise!  I’ve been thinking about purchasing additional Sonos speakers to complement my Sonos Playbar but they were too expensive. Then came the Sonos Play:1, which was $199 each but also came with two free Bridges (courtesy of Amazon).  I plan to sell the Bridges and get some cash back, so the savings on two brand new Sonos Play:1 is even greater.  I love, absolutely love the Play:1’s. They work extremely well with the Playbar and I get surround sound on everything, including radio, Pandora, Spotify (through the iOS app), while the TV does its thing automatically (once I turn on the TV). It’s the best and most seamless product since Apple introduced the iPod. And was definitely a surprise since I didn’t have a clue that it was coming out. 

As you can tell, whenever I make gadget purchases, I get a bit excited, so I’ll stop here.  I’ll be back to my usual social media stuff soon. Got a nice one about marketing and Miley Cyrus coming up. Stay tuned. 

Have you made any gadget purchases in the past month? Are you planning to buy anything leading up to the holidays?



You’ve got to pay to play in social these days

Gone are the days when you can organically large followings on social via amazing content and organic word of mouth or organic sharing. With today’s big social media channels, in order for a brand to really gain large followings or reach a large audience, paid media has to be an essential part of your strategy. This is in stark contrast to when Facebook allowed brands to reach large portions of their followers without a need for paid media to continue to reach those people. This is the same trend that Instagram and Pinterest will head into once their ad platforms mature and become another paid channel to consider for marketers. 

While Facebook’s platform almost forces brands to pay in order to get any kind of significant reach or even support when something goes wrong with a brand page, platforms like Google+ and Twitter are becoming channels that are ripe for engagement and stealing some of that momentum from Facebook. Google+ has been making steady updates lately and just announced that over 500+ million people interacted with Google+ in one way or another. Google has also some of its functionalities into their core products, Search and YouTube. Twitter is set to IPO this year and has been on a hot streak as a second screen partner for TV viewers.  That’s where they’ll be making a ton of their money as almost every TV show now has a hashtag associated with the TV show.

I’m extremely curious to how Instagram and Pinterest’s ad platforms will evolve. These two platforms will not stand still and stick to their current version of the ad platforms. The other thing to keep in mind is that a lot of these platforms have to capitalize as much of the revenue as possible because we all know these platforms won’t last too long. The driving force behind many of these platforms are fickle users who will leave if something better without advertising cluttering the platform, comes along.

As a marketer, do you feel like you’ve had to increase your paid media budgets? What do clients think of the changes to paid media?


When will brands learn to engage and not put all your social eggs in one basket

I keep getting this strange feeling that in the next few years, Facebook as a platform will slowly start to decline, especially the relevancy of Facebook Pages.

The more I hear brands attach the word Facebook to social as if that’s the only platform that can do social well, I can’t help but wonder how much they have yet to learn. Just because Facebook is the default platform for brand engagement right now doesn’t mean it’s the only platform to invest marketing dollars in. Whenever I’m in a meeting, I want to scream and tell them the many other options available to them with differentiating benefits. Facebook is also misused so it’s not like these brands are doing it justice.

When a brand throws all of it’s social marketing dollars into Facebook and then follows up with marketing messages instead of actual engaging dialogues with consumers, the tactic behind using the platform loses its value. For those who still don’t get it, social media is part of a marketing tactic, not a channel to spew marketing messages to people. It needs to be weaved into the conversation in a two-way dialogue.

I wish more brands would be open-minded and invest in Twitter, Google+ or vine and Instagram for brands with creative products. Isn’t it better to be the first brand in your category to own that platform and set your own best practice guidelines instead of being another brand on Facebook that is trying to one-up their competition? Of course, none of it will matter, as brands will continue to take the safe route until that platform goes down with their marketing budgets.

All of this is easy for me to say as someone who’s invested in the future of social media but ultimately brands should be listening to their agency partners more often. They hired them for a reason, it’s about time they started listening to their expertise.

It could also be a fault of the agency partners who feel like they need the business so bad they’re not wiling to let the trouble client go or propose changes that may upset the current balance of things. Figuring out problems and providing solutions for the clients are what makes great agencies, not a rotating list of clients every year.