Content Marketing is Dead ... and Controversy gets Clicks

Posted by Matt Hodkinson
04-Sep-2014 10:00:00

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A few days ago, a contact of mine forwarded an article entitled “Content Marketing is Dead”. He knows that I’m a big advocate of inbound marketing, and that content sits at the heart of much that we do. My initial response was … “what a load of crap”!  My subsequent response was to highlight the irony of reading about the death of content marketing on a blog post littered with calls-to-action and obvious marketing “triggers”. It seems that the author himself can detect at least a faint pulse.   Then I actually read the piece.

After much elaboration and the introduction of lazy marketing cliché #491 … “Engagement Marketing” … the author came to the conclusion that content marketing is NOT dead. 

SO WHY MAINTAIN IT’S DEMISE IN THE HEADLINE?  As frustrating as it is to find such disparity between the title of a blog post or article and it’s contents, it illustrates a n interesting and long-standing truth. Controversy sells. This blog post had already gotten a smattering of social shares, a couple of comments, and had evidently been one of the better performers on this particular blog site. If it weren’t for the challenging and outlandish headline (outlandish because of the ardent following that content marketing has mustered in recent times), this post may have suffered the same fate as many others … no engagement, no audience, no point.

But does a controversial title have to breed disappointment once the content is digested? Of course not. The challenge for any content marketer in using controversy is the ability to provide substance to the argument. If there were hard facts to support their alternative view, then the level of controversy would likely be reduced. Here are a few pointers for using controversy effectively in your own content strategy:

Believe it

If you’re going to follow through in your challenge on the status quo, it must really be your default stance and true belief.  Don’t take a skewed view for the sake of it – getting caught out is no fun for anyone.

State it as opinion

If the facts to support your stance just aren’t there, then they likely don’t exist.  Whatever views you have are just that … YOUR views. Readers will thank you for avoiding the temptation of stating as fact what is merely your opinion, so go out of your way to say as much.  Inviting visitors to submit their own views will likely increase engagement in a more friendly and less challenging way. 

Go BIG or go home!  #YawnNoMore

Controversy doesn’t just jab the sleeping tiger with a bendy twig.  It takes a long run up, and slaps it hard on the ass with a kayak paddle! Meaningful controversy means going all out with your opinions, and leaving it all out on the table. The temptation to play it safe will be countered with an apathetic reader, high bounce rates, low engagement … in short, a wasted opportunity. 

Hopefully this post has lived up to the title, and if so, do let us know in the comments below. More than that, though, where have you seen controversy really work?  Similarly, have you been left disappointed by a piece of content that promised so much in the headline, yet delivered very little?

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