Controversy. What a loaded word that is. It fills our lives. Differing opinions, and raised hackles, abound. It’s everywhere you look.
It is unavoidable.
But here’s something to chew on for a while: Have you ever noticed that the more controversy an article or blog post inspires, the more viral it goes?
Knowing that, why do we writers too often sidestep controversy? Why are we so afraid of invoking it in our content? What, exactly, is it we fear?
Since controversy is such a powerful reader magnate, would we not be better served by grabbing it by the throat and squeezing as much of it into our content as we can?
The Upside Of Controversy
Think about this for a moment. If you’re looking to blow up your readership, to attract brand new readers faster than a wide-awake toddler on a sugar high, why would you want to avoid any semblance of controversy in your business content?
Very simply, you worry that too much controversy will turn people off; that it’ll repel people. That, horror of horrors, some readers might be forced to unfollow you. Ye gads, some may even argue with you.
All of these scenarios represent the very hallmark of controversy.
And it can be intimidating in the extreme.
And you know what? All of those things likely will happen. Oh yeah. Big time. Some people will run from you as if you’re a house afire. They may even tell others to run as well.
And that, my dear reader, whether you realize it or not, is the upside of controversy.
Quite simply, it gets attention. It gets people talking. And yes, arguing.
It ignites passion.
And while yes, some readers will run from you, others will flock to you. Those in agreement with you will gravitate to you. And surprise, surprise, even some who disagree will stick around just to watch the action unfold.
“There’s no such thing as bad publicity.” P.T. Barnum
There is some, well, controversy about whether P.T. Barnum uttered that phrase or not. Maybe he said it. Maybe he didn’t.
But for my purposes today, I don’t much care if he said it or not. I care only about the point it makes. And that point is: If people are talking about you, they’re noticing you. They know who you are.
They know what you stand for, whether they agree with you or not.
And in business, getting noticed is king.
As I write this post, we’re in the midst of a presidential election cycle here in the U.S., and controversy is everywhere. One candidate, in particular, has been at the very hub of almost all of it. It doesn’t matter whether you agree with this particular candidate.
The fact is, for better or worse, he’s getting noticed. Oh boy, is he.
Much to my chagrin, I might add, but that’s a topic for another day.
The point is, you want people to notice you. Being bland and boring just gets you buried in the noise. No one cares.
Spice things up a bit, and suddenly the floodgates open.
Stir The PotWhen it comes to the content you produce, you want to steer as clear from bland and boring as humanly possible. Click & Tweet!
You want to stir the pot, rile the masses, make people sit up and take notice.
You want to inspire controversy. And let the chips fall where they may. But at least they’ll fall somewhere. Of that, you can be sure.
Here’s the thing. You don’t want to try and appeal to Joe Average. You don’t want people falling asleep reading your blog posts and articles. Assuming they even bother to start reading them at all.
The Religion Conundrum
Here’s another hot topic for you — religion.
Now, there’s an uber-controversial subject if ever there was one. Highly religious people take issue with the opinions of non-religious people. Or people of differing religious beliefs.
They abhor agnostics and atheists as though they are the devil incarnate.
And the agnostics and atheists think highly religious people can’t think for themselves. That they must be led by the nose by an organized group.
Each side is at best wary of the other. At worst, they profoundly distrust, even dislike, one another.
Which I find terribly sad, but again, a topic for another day.
Your Unique Brand Voice
If part of your personal brand involves religion or lack thereof, you can be sure that you’re going to repel a large segment of the population.
But you know what else you’ll do?
You’ll attract like-minded souls. You’ll grow an audience of people who relate to your message. Who will be loyal to you because of the bond they believe they share with you.
And the more you inspire their interest, the deeper that bond will be and the more likely they will be to choose you over a competitor.
To Swear Or Not To Swear
Another topic that I’ve seen come up with people in business is the language they use in their marketing and social content. And swearing comes firmly under the heading of language use.
So should you or shouldn’t you use swear words in your writing?
Again, that depends. Some people will find it refreshing and completely non-offensive; others will be horrified and repelled.
The same logic applies here as it does to controversial topics. Be yourself. Let people see who you are, what you stand for, what raises your ire and what makes your heart sing. Click & Tweet!
Those that think, talk, and act as you do will be attracted to you. Those that don’t won’t.
And that’s totally okay.
Pulling It All Together
Now, I’m not saying you should head out there and swear up a storm just to see who likes you. Especially if that’s not who you are. Or that you should somehow conjure up controversial subjects to write about just to see the crapola hit the fan.
But if you feel strongly about something, then go ahead and say it. Damn the torpedoes! It’s good for business. It’s gloriously liberating.
I admit I still struggle with this one a bit myself. I too often put a damper on broaching topics that could set off a firestorm.
But I’m working on it.
Because in the end, it doesn’t matter whether everyone likes me. It only matters that some do.
No, you can’t please all the people all the time. It’s a fool’s errand even to try.
But if you attract a following of people who relate to your message, who feel a kinship with who you are, you’ve achieved your goal.
So go out there and be yourself.
Profess your thoughts and feelings loud and clear.
Be proud of who you are. Revel in knowing you’re taking a stand.
And stop worrying about being everyone’s BFF.
The relationships you forge will be that much stronger.
And your business will finally find its voice.