A while back, Jane Sheeba, a fellow blogger and colleague, wrote an interesting piece titled ‘4 Bad (Intense) Examples of Controversial Blog Posts’. Writing controversial blog posts is a good way of attracting people’s attention instantly, which in turn helps you establish authority, build relationships, get new readers or subscribers and generate leads among others. While Jane pointed out controversial posts that led to serious backlash from the Internet media and users, my examples show how controversy can be good by offering life changing thoughts and exposing people’s misconceptions.
#1. Flipkart Screwed Me Over
In August 2013, Swapnil Mathur published a revelatory piece with the Think Digit magazine about the top Indian eCommerce company Flipkart. Titled, Flipkart Screwed me Over, Swapnil related his nightmarish experience and tore apart the Flipkart service conditions, revealing how they switched from being ‘retailers’ in their early start-up phase and became a ‘broker’. They just facilitate the transaction of goods from the seller to the buyer (you) and deny any responsibility should any dispute arise between the seller and the buyer.
The blog post went viral. It was discussed on Quora extensively. Some criticized Swapnil for creating a mountain out of a molehill, explaining that such instances can happen within a huge organization while others applauded his mettle to make his experience public. This post was controversial in a good sense as it revealed the internal workings of huge organizations and how consumers are easily fooled. The subject came to a closure when the CEO of Flipkart, Sachin Bansal himself issued a public apology on Quora.
#2. A Black Girl’s Guide to Weight Loss
In early 2012, Huffington Post covered how a blogger named Erika Nicole Kendall went from 330 pounds to 180 pounds in four years. There’s nothing controversial in it except for the blog post title – Erika Nicole Kendall, Blogger at ‘A Black Girl’s Guide to Weight Loss’, on Slimming Down, Sex and Resolution Pitfalls. The mention of the words ‘black girl guide’ upped the ante and if you read the comments on the Huffington Post article, you’ll see how Erika was ridiculed, called many names and criticized. On her blog post, Erika admitted how the mention of “an accidentally controversial blog title” opened up a can of worms.
So, why did I mention it here as a ‘good example’? While the controversy was surely accidental, the reactions were, well, all natural. Erika wasn’t trying to be a racist or scorn anyone titling her blog as a “black girl’s guide”, she was just documenting her journey but the post went on to reveal the prevalent racist mentality that still lurks beneath the percepts of equality and modernism.
Given a chance, people would still distinguish between ‘whites’ and ‘blacks’. It does seem like all the anti-racist movements of the past were all for nothing.
#3. Content Shock
Recently, Mark Schaefer (of Schaefer Marketing Solutions) came up with a blog post titled “Content Shock – Why Content Marketing is Not a Sustainable Strategy” which drove massive attention (both agreements and disagreements) from industry leaders, marketing executives and bloggers alike. The main point that Mark tried to make in his post is that there’s a psychological and inviolable limit to content consumption by humans, so many businesses will simply not be able to survive the rapidly rising competition in content marketing. While he agrees that content marketing still remains one of the top trends in the digital world, he emphasizes that the winners will be only those content creators that have a large budget to spend.
Though Mark has been featuring lots of interesting stuff on his blog, this is his first most controversial post ever. Not only did this post attract tons of shares and comments, but it also provoked many bloggers and online marketers to voice their own responses in the form of blog posts.
Content marketing experts like Barry Feldman and Joe Pulizzi almost instantly took on Mark with their own counter posts. Sonia Simone of Copyblogger Media also wrote a post in disagreement with Mark’s opinion of reaching the point of content shock soon. Jay Baer (of Convince and Convert) referred to Mark’s post as ‘a tempest in a teapot’.
#4. Marriage isn’t for Me
This was certainly a harsh statement coming from a guy who was happily married for over 18 months and still writing – “Having been married only a year and a half, I’ve recently come to the conclusion that marriage isn’t for me”. The Internet went into a tailspin within 24 hours and his blog post received over 25 million views.
People misunderstood his perception until he clarified further on the ABC News post. Readers shamed him as a selfish guy who wanted to leave the marriage without trying to make it work and sympathized with his wife for living with such a loser husband.
If you read the blog post, however, you would understand his point that marriage is not for you but you marry to make someone else happy. He intended it to be a sweet mushy love-letter for his wife but it took another direction which was promptly curtailed before it went out of control.
The blog post is an eye-opener for couples (in relationship) who don’t understand the true meaning of marriage, who think in terms of ‘me’ rather than ‘us’.
Controversies are good. However, if you intend to write blog posts that could become controversial, back it up with strong irrefutable proofs. Be concise and state your perception clearly to avoid misunderstandings. Most importantly, have the courage to stick to your opinion once you’ve expressed it without being apologetic, if you think you’re fair, factual and civil.
Have you ever written or read a good controversial blog post? If you have, please feel free to talk about it or express your views in comments below.