A Content Marketing Strategy Lesson From…Miley Cyrus

You might think you’ve heard more than you ever wanted about Miley Cyrus, but stick with me. Her controversial performance at MTV’s Video Music Awards – and most recent video release, “Wrecking Ball” – both underscore just how powerfully controversial content can contribute to your content marketing strategy.

If you’re willing to approach your content marketing strategy with an it’s-our-party-we-can-say-what-we-want mentality, then you should consider publishing something that might be a little edgy or controversial. If you take a strong stance on an issue relevant to your industry, you’ll find your audience eager to engage with it. You don’t want to be provocative purely for provocation’s sake, of course, but think: are there outdated assumptions in your industry that you have the experience to puncture? Stubborn myths or bad habits? Pointing these out might be a little provocative, but people are drawn to unexpected truth-telling and defiant stances.

Now, back to Miley. It might sound like hyperbole, but she literally won the Internet in the last month with her controversial content marketing. Just take a look at the Google Trends chart below:


That giant spike that hits 100 is August 26th, the day after her VMA performance. We the people just can’t stop, and we won’t stop, being totally intrigued by something that will make the Smith family collectively cringe like this:

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In the span of one performance, Miley Cyrus was able to generate such a strong opinion from her audience that she was the subject of the most searches in Google the next day. And her buzz didn’t stop there. The Internet had a field day picking apart her performance and expressing shock and awe at what had happened.

The next bump in the timeline is September 10th, the day after her video and single “Wrecking Ball” was released. This was, of course, more ammunition for the Internet, another chance to marvel at how far a teen idol had fallen. Her video on Youtube was shared in social media more than 2,450,000 times. In other words, more of her controversial content went viral and gained an incredibly large audience. The video has been viewed more than 114,000,000 times. Currently, her name is searched in Google 1,830,000 times per month. 

I won’t lie: I watched the videos like everyone else. Laughed at the explosion of Miley-based blogs and videos like everyone else. I’m not a mind reader, but I’m reading the signs that her controversial performance and video was a huge factor leading to her current #1 spot on iTunes. It all comes down to the fact that her controversial content marketing strategy led to successful returns: her video and single release were a major hit.

In content, the worst reaction you can provoke is indifference. Strong reactions will translate into more traffic to your blog and/or website, more mentions in social media, and hopefully more business down the road. If it fits with your content marketing strategy, producing controversial content on occasion will help you drive more user engagement and boost the performance of your content overall. I’m not suggesting you twerk on the stage of your next conference, or strip down and ride a wrecking ball to viral success, but find something you feel strongly about and take your stance. You just might be able to take your content marketing to that next level.

James Bierbower

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