Love her or hate her Miley Cyrus was the talking point of 2013 and is likely to stay that way for the foreseeable future (at least until she self- combusts so dramatically that we can no longer be shocked. I’m talking to you Lindsey Lohan). Surprisingly, there are many parallels between the teen superstar and our favourite social media platforms…
They both came in like a wrecking ball
Remember Bebo? Foursquare? Myspace? If you do, you have probably repressed these memories to the sector of your brain where you keep other embarrassing life periods (like the unmentionable goth phase). These now ancient sounding social media sites were wrecking-balled out of the way by Facebook and Twitter who smashed competition from the original social media platforms and wiped them from our lives. We can hardly remember life without them (or just don’t want to). Facebook now has 1.19 billion users and Twitter a cool 500 million. The ‘new’ Miley (the one after Disney) is similar to this. She came in like a wrecking ball, broke down walls and never looked back.
Why Should I Care?
As a company, you should choose what social channels you use wisely. There is no point spreading your efforts thinly across dozens of rarely-used social media platforms, when a few well targeted, engaging and relevant pieces of content on the most popular sites could have a much larger effect. Keep an eye out for any new ‘wrecking ball’ social media sites that come on the scene to prevent your company from slipping back into the dark ages.
We can’t stop (Going on them)
Miley can’t stop (and won’t stop) partying and going on a mad one. Likewise, we can’t stop tweeting, updating, and refreshing our newsfeeds. It’s compulsive. Look around at any social occasion where friends are supposedly spending quality time together and guaranteed you will see a sea of lit up faces glued to their smartphones. A recent study has found that the average American spends on average, 2 hours and 38 minutes on their mobiles devices per day. A large chunk of this is dedicated to social media showing how addictive it is. There has even been a new word invented ‘phubbing’ to describe the action of ignoring someone in a conversation to look at your phone. We just can’t seem to stop!
Why Should I care?
The relentless consumption of social media by your customers through their day to day lives means that your audience is constantly ‘switched on’. This is an opportunity not to be missed. Resources like Google Analytics can be used to help monitor when your customers are active, how they got to your site or page and what they are up to when they visit. Using this information to streamline the content and time of your posts will ensure maximum affect from minimum effort. Most Social Media platforms also have built in analytics (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn) so you can get a detailed picture of your audience. This includes the who, what, when and where of your customer but also which devices/ desktops they are using. Don't forget, social media never stops. People are sitting at home watching TV and tweeting, going to concerts and vine-ing and complaining on Facebook about an unhygienic display, so make sure you've got someone monitoring it round the clock.
They are transformative
Two years ago if you said ‘Miley Cyrus’ the first things that came to mind were Disney, country music and purity rings. Now it’s all about the twerking, dodgy cropped haircuts and giant foam fingers. She has completely transformed her image in a very short space of time. In a similar way, Facebook has had some controversial transformations lately that would rival Miley’s.
The introduction of Facebook timeline 2 years ago wiped out the concepts of walls and profiles and made it terrifyingly easy to Facebook stalk people right back to their very first cringey Facebook status. This transformation completely changed the way people used Facebook and made its appearance almost unrecognisable (much like Miley).
Twitter had also had transformative moments in recent years by emphasising it’s image content hugely and this year rolling out a new design that eliminates the pop up compose window in favour of an inline compose box. Twitter, like Facebook has also delved into paid advertising.
Why Should I care?
As a company you simply cannot afford to sit back on your laurels when it comes to social media. If you do it’s almost guaranteed that you will fall behind and there will be another rival company waiting in the wings ready to twerk you out the way (much like Selena Gomez). Keep on top of any transformations and you will keep your business relevant and tailored to the ever changing online platforms.
They have distinctive branding
Twitter and Facebook are brands that have infiltrated the public consciousness. They are so ingrained that the Facebook and Twitter name and logo are even influencing our language. Hashtags are now used in daily conversation and have been plastered over Primark clothing, ironic beanie hats and flyers for club nights across the UK. The blue hue of Facebook is instantly recognisable to most people and phrases such as ‘frape’ are part of everyday lingo. In a similar way, Miley Cyrus has built a brand around her post-Disney rebellion and is undoubtedly cashing in on the success of it. Through her time she’s made money from every type of Miley memorabilia you can think, of even Hannah Montana dolls. She is the queen of self- promotion (well she’s the princess, Kim Karsdashian is the Queen) and possibly may have picked up some tips from Facebook and Twitter along the way.
Why Should I Care?
As a company, distinctiveness is the key to being prevent being lost in the sea of competitors. I’m not saying your staff should don latex bodysuits to go to work, but your online business identity should be original, cohesive and recognisable. Compare your website to your various social media pages to check they look as similar as possible and make your logo a clear centre point of your pages. Have a decided-upon tone in which your write posts and site content. This will stop your from being confused with other or forgotten entirely and will also work towards giving your audience a great online brand experience.
Both are very revealing
We are all familiar with Miley’s outrageous outfit choices (although I’d give the girl a gold star for bravery). However, pictures of Miley in compromising positions don’t really affect her since she already has a secure financial situation thanks to the millions she has earned over her mere 21 years on the planet. However, for us humble job seekers in a competitive employment environment, revealing pictures of us spread over Facebook and Twitter can be a massive problem when attempting to convince an employer that you are a serious functioning member of society.
That Mankini you donned in Kavos or the attempted pole-dance on the tube, though hilarious at the time may be regretted when potential employers can access the evidence through your online social accounts. Just last April, Paris Brown, the UK’s first ever youth police and crime commissioner was forced to resign after the backlash over a series of tweets she had posted the year before some of which were racist, homophobic and mentioned drugs and being drunk at work. Keep it private or all will be revealed!
Why Should I Care
It’s a common problem that people feel far more confident when hidden behind a screen than they do in real life. Your company should ensure that your online content is congruent with the message your business presents in ‘real life’. Hilarious posts of cat videos and cheeky tweets digging at business rivals are all very well and good but if they do not fit with your company aesthetic, they are embarrassing, confusing for customers and will remain engraved in web space until the end of time.
When it comes to expressing your opinion, as Nicola says, if you wouldn’t’ say something to someone’s face, don’t say it online and if you would say it to their face…go and see them!
And finally, like the Lohans and Spears of this world being shocking and outrageous can lead to massive short term popularity but in the long term it’s not a sustainable way to collect loyal customers. There is only so much you can surprise and awe before people get bored of you. If shaving your head or twerking with a foam finger doesn’t fit with your brand image, maybe give it a miss.