Is Using Controversial Content Killing Your Brand?

Creating controversial content

You’ve seen it a million times before: In an effort to gain more readership, a marketer uses a controversial headline like “AdSense is Dead” or “Is XYZ Company a Scam?” While this kind of marketing certainly does garner readership, in the long run it can come back to haunt you.

First of all, if you use a controversial topic but don’t follow through, your credibility will be hurt. If you come out with a statement like “AdSense is Dead” when AdSense really isn’t dead, people are going to feel a little jaded that you used that headline to catch their attention.

Second, people will get desensitized to it. If your primary marketing strategy is shock and awe, sooner or later people are just going to start tuning out everything you say. Even when you say something substantial, people just won’t have their ears open to you anymore.

Creating controversy can be a small part of your strategy. However, it shouldn’t be your primary copywriting or marketing stance. Here’s how to create phenomenal content, without having to resort to controversy.

Educate People About Industry Changes

Educate People About ChangesIf you run an SEO blog and Google comes out with a new algorithm, talk about it. Tell people how it impacts them. If you run an environmentalism blog, talk about new advances in solar technology and how people can participate.

Don’t just report on the news. Share your own opinion and add value in your own way as well. For example, if you’re talking about a new Google algorithm update, use your own personal experience to give people some tips on how to adapt.

Be a Niche Expert Be a niche expert

If you’re trying to be an expert to everybody, that’s a surefire way to get lost in the crowd. People who need to use controversy tend to be people who’re trying to target really, really big markets.

A much better way to garner attention is to become known as the expert in a specific niche. Build a name for yourself as the one person who knows a lot about a very specific topic. For example, be the LinkedIn guy, rather than the marketing guy. Be the Thailand guy, rather than the travel guy.

Top Notch How to Content

creating quality contentOne not-so-glorious yet highly effective way of getting people’s attention is to simply put out the best content. If you’re the #1 source of content on a particular topic, people are going to notice. It might not happen immediately, but in a few months people will start paying attention because you can help their lives, rather than because you can write the best headline.

It’s the exact opposite of using controversy without substance. Using controversy gets attention upfront, then people leave. Giving quality content takes a bit of time to garner attention, but once people know about you, they stay.

When is it Okay to Use Controversy?

There are a few times when it’s okay to use controversy.

First of all, when you truly believe sometime that’s controversial, don’t be afraid to come out and say it. If you think a popular SEO technique that a lot of people are using is going to get them banned, come out and say so. If you think a popular diet is deeply unhealthy, come out with guns blazing.

Don’t use headlines like “Will the Atkins Diet Kill You?” if the answer is “no.” Use these kinds of headlines when you really believe in the followup. when is the right time

You can also use controversy every once in a while as a marketing tactic. It’s especially useful for capturing people on the fringe of your market.

For example, if you’re sending an email to people who haven’t opened an email from you in a month, you might want to use a controversial headline. If you’re doing an on-exit popup to try and get people who haven’t opted in to opt-in, you might want to use a controversial headline. This is okay, because you’re going to lose those people anyway – So taking a stab doesn’t hurt.

If you want to sprinkle controversy into your marketing strategy every month or two, that could very well work for you. Just don’t make it a habit. Make your brand based on substance rather than jazz and in the long run your efforts will pay off.

If you enjoyed this post, please consider leaving a comment or subscribing to the RSS feed to have future articles delivered to your feed reader.


One Response to “Is Using Controversial Content Killing Your Brand?”

  1. Nick Stamoulis on May 23rd, 2012 2:11 pm

    I agree that it’s a tactic to use sporadically. Titles and post topics don’t need to be controversial to be catchy or get attention.

Leave a Reply