In the world of internet blah, everyone wants to know the secret to viral content. How do you spike your blog traffic with just one or two incredible posts? That's what we all want, right?
If you're a blogger, you know the worth of steady traffic. Great traffic can take you from hobby blogger to career blogger. Sure, how to guides and informative posts might bring in a steady flow of interest, but at the end of the day, there must be something more.
In modern day media, a gasp can be worth a thousand words, so I always recommend drifting towards controversial content. Not only is it a great way to put your brand on the map, but it also encourages shares, comments, and reads.
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What Defines Controversial?
Controversial content raises eyebrows. It might increase the reader's blood pressure, or incite an emotion. No matter the reaction, it always does just that - causes a reaction. Because of this, controversial content observes the most reader engagement. People will comment and share at the speed of light. Controversial content causes people to think, and once you get them thinking, you can guarantee they'll engage. Engagement encourages even more reads, as their friends, family, and followers want to join in on the conversation.
Now, keep in mind, your readers might not always agree with the statement you make. In fact, if you run across a super passionate activist that disagrees with your post, you might just get a few nasty replies. But, controversial content will rapidly grow your blog traffic.
Why do people pay attention to controversial content?
When you say something that counters to accepted wisdom, opinions, or theories, people pay attention. It’s the “one of these things is not like the other” principle. People take note of the odd man out, especially if he or she supports their statement with a valid argument. They might not always agree with you, but they're sure to give your post a read. They want to find out what makes you choose a different thought pattern, and if they agree or disagree.
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Here's Five Different Controversial Conversation Starters
1. Discuss a popular social issue.
Share your opinion on recent SCOTUS news, or write an article about presidential candidates. When discussing social issues, always make sure to back up your viewpoint with a handful of facts. Keep it clearheaded and free of too much emotion, but at the same time, don't take a neutral stance.
Make a clear statement and never apologize for your opinion. Emotional appeals have their place in share-worthy content, but avoid this when discussing a controversial issue. You want to be viewed as a thought leader, not a ranting lunatic. Always share your opinion, but support it with logical arguments.
2. Share a photo that gets people talking.
Post a photo that encourages the most opinionated people to come out of the woodwork. Right now, pictures of women breastfeeding in public places are sure to stir up some heated debate.
3. Blog about a personal confrontation.
Do you have an opinion on someone's behavior? Publicize it on your blog. Do not be offensive or cross the line, as that will only damage your credibility. But, don't be afraid to challenge another blogger or industry leader's opinion.
4. Comment on a trending news story.
A couple weeks ago, I wrote a blog post about Caitlyn Jenner (formerly Bruce Jenner) and her transition. I put a comedic spin on the whole news story, and my usual blog traffic quadrupled in less than 24 hours.
5. Ask a question.
Stir up some opinionated conversation by asking a question that encourages different opinions. Comment on an upcoming event, or invite readers to share their thoughts on a trending Hollywood superstar. Ask an irresistible question, and watch as the comments come flowing in.
In the grand scheme of things, controversial content fills a dual purpose. It increases reads, multiplies shares, and encourage interaction. But, in addition to these important paybacks, controversial content strengthens your brand. If written correctly, it can label you as an industry thought leader. It can build your following, and increase engagement in other brand building campaigns.
Never just rant to rant. When engaging in controversial and conversation starting content development, find your purpose. Ask yourself these five questions.
- What is my end goal?
- Who do I want to read this?
- How do I want them to be affected?
- Am I ok with facing criticism as a result of my statement?
- How will I engage readers in a followup conversation?
Always remember to avoid seriously hot button issues. Low-level controversy encourages conversation, but data shows that beyond a moderate level of controversy, additional controversy actually decreases likelihood of discussion.
So, with all this said, be careful. Take caution when penning up a controversial blog post. Push the envelope, but by all means, don't tear it to shreds. Take your readers into consideration, and tailor your topic to their preferences.