Can you blame Justin Bieber for his smiling mug shot? These days celebrity mugshots are instant reddit and Buzzfeed gold, so you may as well look good for it.  What Bieber might not have seen coming is the Miley Cyrus comparisons, but never say she didn’t warn us that she comes in like a wrecking ball.

Justin Bieber made headlines and dominated the Twittersphere yesterday and today with news of his arrest in Miami.  Bieber was arrested for drag racing in a yellow Maserati through a residential neighborhood in Florida, and has been making the most of his headline-jacking by smiling beatifically for his mug shot and waving happily to fans as he left the police station.  His glamour shot mugshot, seen here next to a pic of Miley Cyrus in a meme that’s all over Facebook, has already been memed into history all over reddit, Buzzfeed and such, and the #FREEBIEBER hashtag is predictably trending on Twitter, along with #JustinBieber.

Which is to say that Bieber getting arrested earned him not one, but two trending hashtags today on Twitter.  Not a bad result for a short race down a quiet street in Florida.  That being said, Bieber’s Twitter domination isn’t surprising: this is the channel that made him a star in the first place, and his Beliebers are known for blowing up social channels with news about Justin.  I had to raise the results threshold on Buzz (our social media monitoring tool) to even hope to keep up with the chatter, and even still I throttled my account within a couple hours.

To get an idea as to how much people are talking about this, I compared Justin’s social mentions to social mentions of… the weather.  Everyone’s been talking about the wild weather (we in California have no rain or snow and bears that think it’s Spring, whereas Boston seems to think that it’s Siberia), but even Mother Nature can’t compete with Justin Bieber and his drag-racing escapades:

Social media monitoring around Bieber’s arrest did give us one big surprise: more men than women are talking about it, while more women are giving sustained chatter to the wild weather. What this means: if Justin Bieber can learn how to control the weather, his social media mentions will skyrocket among both genders.


Negative chatter is still chatter. And Bieber’s defenders have done a great job of keeping overall sentiment neutral or positive.


The Miley Cyrus sendups lend themselves to comparisons that transcend the physical: as the social media monitoring has shown, this arrest has put Justin in headlines in a way that some young fans might actually find cool (“Dude, this one time, I was drag racing a Maserati against Khalil’s Ferrari…), and it most assuredly helps him ditch any sort of squeaky clean tweenybop image he might be trying to shed.  I talked about this sort of publicity stunt when I looked at Miley Cyrus’ social mentions before and after her VMA performance, and Justin – who doesn’t hurt for social chatter in the first place – has seem a similar result.

No, I’m not saying that Justin Bieber tried to get arrested – though I’m not saying that it couldn’t have been a well-crafted publicity stunt, either.  This arrest is coming on the heels of Justin hitting a Miami strip club with $75,000 in $1 bills, and the only reason to do that is to give TMZ something to talk about.  (No matter how baggy your pants, that spare change isn’t going to fit in your pockets).  What I am saying is that getting arrested doesn’t seem to have done anything but give him headlines, and for a kid whose success depends on staying top-of-mind with a fickle young audience, getting arrested seems to have protected and served Bieber’s public persona more than anyone else – with the arguable exception of the Social Media Manager for the Miami police department, who tweeted his arrest report for what has to be an all-time high of engagement.

So congratulations, Justin Bieber: strip clubs, drag racing and Miley Cyrus’ haircut have served you well this week.  If you’re on Justin’s management team, the sort of social media monitoring we did today seems to indicate that all’s well that ends well.