Don’t let a social misstep ruin your personal brand. If Miley Cyrus can attract fans by playing up her bad reputation, so can you.
Word-of-mouth gossip has evolved in the digital age, and It’s almost too easy to tarnish your personal brand online.
A single inappropriate picture, snarky comment or feud gone viral can break an entire reputation as people from around the world feed into a company or individual’s downfall.
One of the most drastic reputation shifts in recent years: singer Miley Cyrus.
Miley Cyrus earned a reputation as America’s sweetheart for her wholesome image on popular kids’ TV show “Hannah Montana.” As the Disney star left the television industry to pursue her singing career, her attire, songs and videos turned scandalous. Anyone who watched her 2010 video for the dance hit “Who Owns My Heart” was shocked to see that America’s sweetheart had grown up.
The result? Cyrus lost a lot of fans. But her bad reputation didn’t stop her from growing her personal brand.
Bad publicity vs. no publicity: which is worse?
Rather than spending thousands of dollars on rebranding or fixing bad publicity, the pop star chose a less conventional approach: go viral. As the saying goes, “It’s better to have a bad publicity than no publicity.” Cyrus embraced that saying.
Today, not all her publicity is positive. But people are always talking about Cyrus, buying her concert tickets, and making her popular without even realizing it. Her marketing strategy might not be for everyone, but it can be successful for those who can stomach it.
One report explains that we love to consume bad news — something you might guess just by glancing at celebrity gossip mags in the grocery checkout line. Psychology Today also noted that people are more willing to share news among their networks if that news is negative or unusual.
People want drama. So why not give it to them? If your name has a bad reputation online, you don’t have to spend money to fix it or scramble to cover your tracks.
Here are three ways to make a bad reputation work for you, instead of against you. (Click here to tweet this list.)
1. Make a scene
Miley Cyrus gets talked about every time she posts something scandalous on social media. Whether it’s music video, a short hair cut, a girl feud, or an obscene concert theme, her brand is the talk of the town.
Making a scene and going viral can be very beneficial for your personal brand. People won’t always agree with what you’re doing, but that’s fine — as long as they’re talking about you. Think of the Vine stars who are now meeting all kinds of celebrities simply from creating short videos.
Have an unconventional view? Talk about it, and get others to spread the word. Invite the attention that your unconventional view or methods might attract, whether it be positive or negative.
The key here is doing something unique, that others have never done before. Take things to the next level. Thanks to the Internet, posting one video on the right website can bring a lot of attention to yourself. Take advantage of the opportunities you see.
2. Feed the publicity
Once you make a scene and your name is on the radar, it’s time to feed the publicity. Cyrus continues to play up the controversies surrounding her songs and appearances, and adds to the fire whenever she had a big announcement.
If the scene you made was negative, keep feeding it strategically. The attention is already on you, and you can use it to your advantage to casually shift the focus to the products or services you’re selling. Add a bit of sarcasm to your social media posts about your reputation, remind people of your reputation as you advertise online or on billboards, and play the part when you’re attending conferences or networking events.
3. Be human
Her reputation might not be spotless, but Cyrus’ fans love her for her “human” side. Her social media posts don’t seem automated and almost always tell a story — her story. She shares her day, accomplishments, loved ones and social desires freely, for the world to see.
A successful marketing campaign is a human one. Interact with your followers on social media. Share your accomplishments with them, and let them see the real you. Let them know that you’re aware of what’s being said about your brand, but you’re not taking it too seriously.
Sarah Anton is a compulsive researcher and freelance writer. Read her recent publications on marketing psychology, travel, business and health at www.writingleo.com.