Twerkin’ & Werkin’: What Bloggers Can Learn from Miley Cyrus


You guys! It's been a month and a half since Miley Cyrus & Robin Thicke's infamous VMA performance, and people are In the life span of pop culture and social media, that's like 2 years in human time!

The truth is, I'm actually kind of amazed that people are still talking about that performance and Miley.  Then I thought, “Well, WHY are people still talking about it? What about it truly made it so much different than any provocative VMA performance?” The truth is… I'm not sure it was any different. But I think what came after WAS.

It's Okay to Do What Others Are Doing.

As bloggers, we get caught up in producing new, innovative, original and compelling content. All of our work needs to be groundbreaking.  But if you look at popular music (or literature or film), you'll notice that there isn't a lot of originality out there.  There's a helluva lot of creativity, but nothing is really original or unique.  Everyone's gotten nude. Everyone's made obscene gestures. Everyone's humped or made out with each other on stage.

And despite outcries… those artists still have an audience, and they still find success.

This isn't to say that you need to get naked or wag your tongue on your site, but that sometimes great ideas and success comes from walking the road well traveled. It comes from learning and understanding what others have done, why it worked, or why it didn't. Maybe you'll succeed in getting people talking, and maybe you won't – but it's okay to try what others have done to see how it fits you.

Strive for Longevity.

This is where we go back to how people are STILL talking about Miley Cyrus.  She found a fast way to get people talking about her – the release of “We Can't Stop” followed by it's explosive VMA performance.  She used that momentum to KEEP people talking about her: she released “Wrecking Ball” and “23.” She performed on SNL, where she made fun of herself AND Michelle Bachmann.  She didn't give audiences the time to stop talking about her – she didn't even let them stop THINKING about her.

As a blogger, what's your takeaway from that?

Pay attention to what you're doing and how people respond to it.  If you create a piece that goes viral, what fuel can you feed that fire?  Maybe if you write a follow up piece, ask those who shared and promoted it if they'd be interested in reading the new one. Ask them to share it if they like it.  Build on your success, no matter how it comes — instead of letting the wave ride out into nothing.

Sometimes You Just Need to Bare It All.

Miley's performance shattered the public's illusion that she was still a little girl – that she was still Hannah Montana.  She bared her flesh and her tongue, she thrust her hips.  In short, she did everything she could to let the world know that she was a woman in charge and with her own agenda. (Whether she succeeded is up for debate.)

You may not need to get naked on your site, but you can still bare it all to your readers. Use your site to bare your emotional self, your vulnerable self, your intelligent and curious self.  Audiences respond- positively and negatively – to vulnerability, honesty, and rawness. Creating something that audiences emotionally react to is an incredibly rewarding experience as a blogger.

Take a cue from Miley: what can you do that makes your readers respond? How can you style an outfit differently or spin a topic in a way that no one has before, that will resonate with readers?  When you write, think about the ways that you can bare yourself on the topic to the fullest.  Tapping into those emotion will make each of your posts infinitely more successful.

Whether you loved or hated Miley's performance, it brings up a lot of great discussions for bloggers.  Every event that catches the public's attention, and holds it, is an educational opportunity IF we take advantage of it. So with that in mind – I'd love to hear what other things Miley's VMA Performance can teach you about blogging!

[Image credit: Terry Richardson]

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16 Responses

  1. Stacey

    Such an interesting article, but I can’t get over the image you chose! It was such an attention grabbing shot, that your article could have simply been about how to draw in your reader with graphics! 🙂

  2. Rose

    I agree with everything EXCEPT one thing. The “bareing it all”. In my experience I feel whenever I truly “bare it all” NEGATIVELY on my page everyone responds negatively. Perhaps you didn’t mean “crying your emotions onto your page” when you said bare it all but sometimes when you’re feeling down or sad the best thing is to just get off the computer and come back later because the negativity that you post brings it to other people and people ARE NOT fans of negativity.

    Or maybe they just don’t like when I’m negative! All I know is that people keep telling me “in order to receive success you must show success at all times” or “keep your blog professional not emotional” so sometimes when you’re just having a bad day… don’t bare it all.

    But once again I’m not sure if you really meant BARE IT ALL when you blog vs. just being overly informational about your life 😛 xox EITHER WAY GREAT ARTICLE and i agree about the photo as well 🙂

    • Ashley Robison

      You brought up a really great point, Rose!

      In my experience, there’s two ways to bare it all: one that is based on treating your blog like a personal diary. “OMG my boyfriend and I are fighting, and I spent all day crying at work. Then I ate two pieces of cake and hated myself for it so, I listened to Tori Amos for two hours.” — that kind of negativity, as a reader, I would HATE to read. And I’d probably be like, “Get over it.”

      BUT, I think you CAN bare it all in a way that presents the problems you faced – and how you overcame them. An example that comes to mind is The Bloggess. Every post of hers is incredibly true to her – she’s got a wonderful writing voice, and she knows how to bare her emotions and all of them. When she’s vulnerable, it inspires you to share your weakest moments. When she’s excited and passionate, you feel it too. (Just look at her infamous Beyonce post.)

      So when I think about baring it all, I’m thinking about in a way that touches your readers they way you WANT it to. It’s very deliberate. And I never actually advocate doing it in the heat of the moment and emotions – that’s what editing is for!

  3. Mary King

    I think one thing left out is that people are still talking about it because SHE is still talking about it. She still brings it up with her promotional interviews, she was bringing it up on SNL when she just hosted. It is kinda hard to drop a topic when the subject matter is also contributing to its lifespan. And I think there is a great lesson in that also. If you really want something to have a lifespan of longer than a day or two, it can’t just be the expectation that the readers will keep talking about it. We bloggers have to as well.

  4. Carla

    Love the tips but I can’t see her as innovative or anything like that. She goes for a bunch of things that other less famous artists did. She maybe got her longevity but for me it’s in a negative way (not because she’s using her body or anything like that but because her atitude sounds fake and attention seeking to me) and I can’t see her as an example too. Even Gaga did it better.

  5. Jordan Skiles

    I totally agree. While I wish she’d put some clothes on and keep her tongue in her mouth, I’ve been in awe of how well her marketing has worked. Good job, Miley!

  6. laviniah

    Great post! Great points to consider for drawing more readers. I struggle with this, I find that some of my posts are more popular than others, so following those particular posts up is a great idea for keeping the momentum going.
    Another thing as a blogger that I haven’t grasped is how to build more followers, I have a growing audience but would like to gain more and sometimes when I see others bloggers have a following of over 1,000 plus I wonder what am I not doing? I’m open to suggestions! Help! 🙂 xx


  7. Emma

    Great post. I personally love Miley, I know not everybody is a fan of this ‘new’ Miley.
    One of the things I love about Miley is that she doesn’t care what people think, her fans are important for her but she does what she likes and wants to do even if it means she might get crap about it from haters.
    This is something that I find important as a blogger as well, it’s important to want to do stuff for your followers but don’t go changing yourself just to get more followers.

  8. Juliana

    This has got to be one of the most interesting and captivating articles I’ve read from IFB. It got me right from the title. I definitely agree with the three points you made and it reminded me of how much I could learn simply from observing what is going on around me, what other bloggers have done in the past, etc.

  9. Onianwah

    Wow! Great post.
    I actually didn’t see Miley’s performance in this light but thanks for bringing it out. I do agree with everything, including the ‘bare it all’ part. I am usually not an emotional person and very few people have seen me break down, but I have noticed that the few people who have are REALLY close to me and I can count on them. I guess it is something I have to consider for my blog though.

    Lagos, Nigeria

  10. Christie

    Awesome piece, Ashley! As the people around me have been saying “what’s wrong with Miley,” I’ve been saying “That Miley is onto something!” You really put that into words for me! Thanks for writing this!

    The Closet by Christie

  11. ann

    I took offence when she was making a joke of “what about the kids” ! Well she is a multimillionaire because of “the kids”. As an adult (I use the term loosely with Miley) she does not owe anything to the kids that made her famous and money; however, if she were a responsible adult she would not bite the hand that made her. How far would this individual gone without the Hannah !Montana character. Too bad the morales that made the kids love her as Hannah didn’t rub off on her as a person.