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10 Marketing Lessons You Can Learn From Miley Cyrus's Twerking Performance at the VMAs

miley cyrus marketing lessonsIt’s been a month since Miley Cyrus’ infamous spectacle at the VMAs and yet here we are still talking about it. Apparently, the “we can’t stop” line in her song of the same title pretty much sums up the world’s reaction to her disturbingly captivating performance. Now you can say all the nasty things about her but one thing’s for sure, this was clearly a cringe-worthy but still a very effective marketing ploy. It certainly had millions of people searching for and talking about it.

Taking a look at it from a business standpoint, at the end of the day, you would basically want that kind of buzz for their brand. Here’s what you can take from Miley’s anything-but (no pun intended) boring performance to get your business twerking:

  1. Image is very important. It has the power to make or break you. In this case, Miley’s shocking performance made her break some social media records (and a few hearts) including reaching 100 million views across VEVO platforms in just 37 days, according to Her new devil-may-care image and attitude may have turned off some viewers but it definitely created quite a ripple across social media.  
  2. Take your cue from predecessors. In the same interview with MTV, Miley said she doesn’t think too much about the negative comments saying “Madonna’s done it. Britney’s done it. Every VMA performance… that’s what you’re looking for. You’re wanting to make history…”. She learned from the artists before her and grabbed the chance when she could. In the same way, learn from some businesses’ past mistakes and successes. Do your research and see how their strategies can work for you too.
  3. Don’t be afraid to take risks. Miley sure isn’t. Perhaps, such extreme measures were needed to help her break out from her former teen star image into the rebellious star she’s become. Likewise, reinventing your business’ image to go in another direction is not without costs and if you’re willing to take risks (the right risks, of course), rewards are underway.
  4. Create something to talk about. And Miley did it the loudest with 103 million Google searches about her VMA performance as of September 9, 2013. Be bold enough to set yourself apart from your competitors. Surprising people is one way to do it. But be wary of this since this is only good for short-term success: to get people talking about your brand. Carefully plan out your goals for the long-run. One of the best marketing strategies is publicity through word-of-mouth. Create some noise and let people do the rest of the talking.
  5. Know your target market. Although 40-something parents may not approve of what she did, you can bet that girls her age got it. These are mostly the “Hannah Montana” fans who grew up and are now living the “college life”. Miley may have caused some eyes to roll but it sifted through viewers and revealed hardcore fans and maybe, even gained a few thousands. Just the same, if you know who your market is then your only job is to cater to them. Don’t mind what the others think. If they’re not possible consumers, then why bother listening?
  6. Be memorable. The best way to create an impact is to be creative and to stand out. Honestly speaking, who else can think of any other performance that night? While ‘NSYNC’s surprise reunion created some buzz but it was pretty clear who was the winner here. We all can’t stop replaying Miley’s stick-your-tongue-out-one-too-many face and awkward twerking in our heads. In the business world, it’s not enough that people recognize your brand. Let them know who you are and what you represent. Don’t just be that “one among many”. Be that one that makes them forget about all the rest.
  7. Timing is crucial. Just as every business step is crucial, so is timing. Miley Cyrus’ marketing team picked the right time to release her new single “Wrecking Ball” (currently no. 7 on iTunes US) as it banked on the hype of her VMA performance. Consider all good marketing opportunities when setting your business calendar. For instance, holidays are just around the corner. Think where your products or services can come in order to take advantage of the season.      
  8. Be sure to go all the way. When making a business decision, don’t have your one foot ahead of the other. When you decide to do something, go all the way. It’s best to give a clear picture of what you want to say rather than confusing – even boring – your consumers by playing it safe.
  9. Be accessible and shareable. With all the available media platforms, social media is a smart route to take. Make your content accessible and easily shareable. Miley’s performance was tweeted, Googled, hashtagged, and viewed millions of times over the internet. Not to mention, it sparked a lot of meme-making among netizens. Use these social media platforms and their features such as hashtags and website-linking to create more buzz for your brand. Get widgets of social media platforms on your website for fast and easy sharing.
  10. Determination supersedes talent in the art of marketing. Miley’s performance has been called “distasteful” and “talentless” among many others, and watching her awkward grinding and out-of-tune singing doesn’t do much to contest such remarks. But one thing is clear, she’s determined to show she’s all grown up and the world just has to deal with it. Likewise, many businesses started from one man’s skill/talent. But that can only get you so far. Determination backed by hardwork triumphs over all

So whether you’re still appalled by Miley’s infamous VMA performance or you’re already twerking to her new song, it’s pretty clear where she succeeded. It wouldn’t be all too bad if businesses applied the same principles she used to create a stir (disclaimer note: just the principles). And with the help of social media, being viral has been easier, you just need to find the right mix.

(Featureflash /

Join The Conversation

  • treptalks's picture
    Sep 10 Posted 3 years ago treptalks

    Exzcellent article. Miley was criticized for her VMA performance but she seemed unphased. It was a strategic decision on her part and I think it worked ONLY BECAUSE SHE DID NOT GIVE IN TO THE CRITICS.

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