Samantha Brick. Liz Jones. Katie Hopkins. All Daily Mail favourites. And all well-known names for people with (pretty horrific) outspoken opinions. From Liz’s condom confessions to Sam’s over inflated opinion of her herself to Katie suggesting fat people and children with ‘chav’ names should die, these three have seen some level of fame through creating controversy. They’ve also made a lot of money from it.
So how can creating controversy help bloggers become successful?
It’s quite simply about taking an opinion and making someone think about their viewpoint or actions, thus inciting them to action – a comment, a tweet, or some other engagement with you and your blog. You want someone to agree with a controversial subject, or completely disagree. You then want them to feel so strongly about their position that they need to interact with your blog in some way.
For example, I wrote about parents, and how they should stop shaming childless women into having children. The post went viral after being picked up on both mummy blogging forums and groups, as well as childfree outlets. The post gets hundreds of unique views every day, and I get emails every month from both camps.
The mummy bloggers had an opinion – I was wrong, their choice was right, and that I would ‘change my mind‘ and then ‘eat my words.‘ I was called a ‘selfish cow‘ and was told that because I ‘was a baby once‘ and ‘I have a mother‘, I’m not allowed to not like children. They shared the post in order validate they way they feel about the subject – I was wrong.
The childfree group also had an opinion – the piece was well written and they could sympathise. They shared it among their friends who felt the same, and used it as a way to show pushy parents how they felt without having to say the words themselves.
How can you use controversial content to go viral? Here are five suggestions and points to bear in mind.
You have to be able to take the rough with the smooth
The point of the exercise is to create a division, and therefore make people take a side. If you’re sitting of the fence with a wishy-washy opinion then people won’t care. Nothing about fence sitting is share-worthy. Be aware that your opinion may create a stir. Not everyone will agree, and some may be more vocal than others. If you’re of a sensitive disposition, this isn’t the right move for you.
Stay away from political parties, race, and religious divisions
Everyone has opinions about these areas. And there already is a lot of division within these sensitive subjects – think about religion. Within the major religions are offshoots creating different denominations of each. Division is already there. People are more likely to completely disengage with a brand about these three subjects than be willing to share and discuss.
Challenge people’s beliefs or behaviour
Do you think rich people are better than those who live in poverty? Do you think men should be treated better than women? Rage and anger are two emotions that are bound to stir up actions and these are some of the most shared pieces of viral content. That’s where Sam, Liz and Katie have done well. How DARE Sam think she’s the most beautiful person alive! How arrogant is Katie to think migrants don’t deserve human rights? By threatening beliefs or behaviour, it creates conversation.
Don’t be too extreme
If you say you think all men should be killed at birth because it would end the patriarchy or something similar, people won’t bother arguing such a ridiculous stance. They’ll shut down that conversation before it can even start, and this will damage your reputation. Believe in what you’re writing, be brave enough to say it, but don’t take it too far or you may find people give your blog a wide berth.
Keep it topical
Use controversial posts sparingly. If all you ever do is post controversy for the sake of it, it all becomes much of a muchness. The three mentioned at the start are known for having opinions very, very few people agree with, and as that’s the case they lose their authority when discussing what they really believe in. Pepper your blog with controversial posts sparingly, and only when the situation calls for it.
Laura is a twenty-something writer from London, who writes a London based blog, six out of ten mag. If you’re looking for a review of a great new place to eat, or just want more excellent articles like this one, head over there right now!