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What Every Blog Owner Should Learn from the College Admissions Scandal

It has just the right amount of scandal to be addictive and just the right amount of entitled wealth and privilege to make us feel justified in constantly tracking (and gasping over) the excesses of our U.S. celebrity population as they are exposed for buying their kids’ way into prestigious colleges across the country. As a result, the FBI’s “Varsity Blues” sting, which ultimately exposed more than 150 parents and children over bribes and falsified information leading to potentially undeserved college admissions, has remained headline fodder long beyond any reasonable life span. Perhaps no one college student or celebrity parent has received more attention than Olivia Jade Loughlin, daughter of Full House alum Lori Loughlin and former social media star and influencer.

Olivia Jade, as she is known on social media, has a long virtual track record of having very little interest in college. In fact, the main advantage of attending for her appears to be lucrative dorm furniture endorsement deals after her parents finally dragged her, more or less kicking and screaming, onto campus thanks to their somewhat shady dealings involving an alleged $500,000 in fake charitable donations and falsified documents involving photoshopping Olivia Jade’s head onto a star crew team member’s body. She immediately created a very popular video in which she promised to “visit her deans” but assured her audience her main interest was the “college experience” and going to parties, not classes.

While Olivia Jade may appear to be obnoxiousness personified, when the college admissions scandal broke, she cut off her parents completely. In fact, at one point, she considered bringing a lawsuit against them for destroying her highly profitable stardom, the success of which hinged on active social media presence and effective endorsements leading to product sales. She lost a Sephora makeup line, a TRESemmé brand partnership, and, worst of all, she has been completely silent on social media for more than a month, leaving her 2-million-plus followers wondering if she will ever reemerge and, more importantly, making it far too easy for them to forget about her. Since mid-March, even the “trolls” appear to have largely forgotten about her, and her Instagram feed has been empty for eight weeks.

But what does this have to do with your highly professional, entirely legitimate business and blog? Well, several things. First of all, you are still reading. Why? Because you want to know as much about this weirdly intriguing “side-door college entrance” scam as the rest of us, you remember watching Full House, and you probably find seeing “how the mighty [celebrity] have fallen” kind of like a train wreck from which you cannot look away.

Lesson One: Compelling content is important.

More importantly from a strategic content viewpoint, however, is that this is a prime example of how leaving your audience alone, even if you think they want you to do so, is one of the worst ways to generate leads using your blog and one of the best ways to demolish a hard-earned, hard-won following of potential clients and customers.

Here’s what we are talking about:

Olivia Jade, love her or hate her, was running a very, very profitable social-media based business. Not much of a blogger, actually, our Olivia Jade, but a very prolific poster and the lesson still applies. Now, whether due to instructions from her legal team, truly overwhelming shame, or just plain discouragement or general ennui, Olivia Jade now has an online presence with no firsthand information about herselfon the first page of search results. The lesson here?

Lesson Two: Abandon your audience, even temporarily, and they are likely to forget you.

If you are using your blog to boost your business website’s search rankings (if not, you should be), to present the best forward face possible to your clients and potential clients (if not, what a missed opportunity), and to keep clients and potential clients engaged with your business so that when they have need of your services, you are top of mind (if not, well…you get the idea), then you cannot afford to let your “feed” go empty.

The good news for you is that as a blog owner, you do not necessarily need to post 10-15 times a day at a minimum, as many social media influencers do. One to two times a week is both sufficient and productive in most instances, although there is a great deal of evidence that ramping up the posts to four times weekly can quadruple your leads. The important thing is that you must stay in touch, no matter what, and, secondly, that the content you use to stay in touch must be relevant, engaging, and elicit your desired results. In Olivia Jade’s case, she is definitely still in the public consciousness, but only in third person. She is being talked about, not talking to her audience. Her image is now being crafted by third parties – often unfriendly ones – instead of herself. This is a disaster for her brand and her business even if her audience forgives her because it creates a situation in which her business partners probably will not. This leads us to…

Lesson 3: Never let someone else tell your story.

Olivia Jade probably could not have done much damage control in the wake of Operation Varsity Blues, but you, as a business owner, should consider your blog the best form of automatic, preemptive damage control and reputation-building available. Your blog, if well maintained and carefully curated with sound, strategic content, can serve as your “PR agent” in good times and bad. When someone searches for your business, your blog is at the ready, prepared to provide the best information and demonstrate just how effective you are in your sector. If someone else is controlling the narrative, your voice is silenced. Use your blog to keep your message clear and strong in both good times and bad.

And, as for Olivia Jade, well, probably wouldn’t hurt to start blogging.