Do you dare be controversial?

Today’s blog may be a bit controversial, but it’s always good to stir up opinion somewhat – or so say many people.  I often read comments like “the blog where I really let rip was the one that got the most response ever”.


So often we play it safe, try to keep our opinions to ourselves so as not to offend anyone.  We want to be known, liked and trusted, after all, don’t we?  And who’s going to like someone with whom they disagree strongly?  “Will they ever trust me again if I go out on a limb?”, you wonder.

But if you want people to get engaged with you, to comment on your blog or your LinkedIn article, the best way to do it is to get a bit controversial.  Andy Crestodina, strategic director of Orbit Media, suggested at the recent Content Marketing Institute conference that people concentrate on strong opinions and research, because as research leads to links, opinions lead to shares. He suggested two ideas for identifying opinions that will get shares:

  • What do you believe that most people disagree with?
  • What questions is your industry afraid to answer?

That may be a difficult challenge to rise to: not everyone is naturally feisty.  But it can be a lot of fun too, to stick your brass neck out and ask the awkward questions.

One of the awkward questions for a lot of bloggers is “should I write as me or as Ms (or Mr) Corporate?”.  If you write for a big company, you could be told what tone of voice to use.  Is it a good idea to write as a company?  I would say not.

Think about your own experience: do you like being addressed by a corporation or do you prefer to talk to a person?  Me too.  That’s why I always recommend keeping it personal.

And if you’re keeping the tone personal, then you have to sound like a real person with real opinions. Why bother writing if you’ve nothing different or interesting to share?  A little controversy will stimulate you as much as your audience.

Where does your industry need shaking up?  What time-honoured shibboleths would you like to see broken down?  Which new idea do you see taking the business by storm, or failing spectacularly, in the next wee while?  What industry issue are people muttering about behind their hands?

Address them, discuss them, get them out in the open and start a conversation about them.  You never know where it might lead – you could change careers as a result (would that be a bad thing?  Discuss).  Or you could be promoted.

But at least it wouldn’t be dull.  And an awful lot of corporate blogging is very dull.  Safe, mildly informative, and totally lacking any vital spark.

So get out there and light a fire under your industry today.  It’s a great reason for getting this week’s/month’s blog written!

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