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Is controversy the key to success in social media?

August 31, 2010

It sounds crazy, but I sometimes wonder if success with social media means you’ve just got to be controversial. I mean, social media is really just a ‘word of mouth’ tool, which means it is simply a written demonstration (with measurable characteristics) of what the business world has known for decades as the art of public relations. In which case, the tenet of ‘any publicity is good publicity’ is often applied with great success. Any number of blogging ‘how-to’ sites will tell you that if you want people to engage and interact with your content, you should view other similar blogs and sites, see what topics are getting the most commentary, then write about the same thing.

To this end, I recently saw a blog on TechCrunch that caught my eye, all about Rupert Murdoch (whom technically I do work for) and how his digitisation plans for his media network were ‘one last tragic roll of the dice.’ Naturally I had some strong views on this and went to comment, but realised straight away that – so did about 100 other people in quick succession. As a writer, the author can be judged to be a successful blogger due to readership and interaction of his written piece.

Similarly, again on TechCrunch, I noticed a blog today titled ‘Too few women in tech? Stop blaming the men.’ A brave soul indeed to publish that article but as I write this blog – just 3 days after the article was published, there are already 1,000+ comments posted on the article, with 1,600+ retweets and the Facebook ‘like’ button has blown its fuse and seems to say it’s well over 1,000 likes.

If you think I’m talking just about blogging, let’s not forget about the lady in the UK who was filmed last month putting someone’s cat in a garbage bin. Within days, she had been vilified on Facebook pages, a ‘catbinlady’ Twitter feed was created which now has 26,000 followers , there were even games developed (‘whack-cat-woman’) for the cause. A spoof Twitter feed for BP (‘@BPGlobalPR’) already has 190,000 followers compared to the 18,000 followers linked to the official BP version. That’s not a typo folks.

In today’s news there’s a girl who’s been filmed throwing puppies into a fast flowing river – think she’s going to last long before she gets the same treatment?

Even within the media business, controversy can help demonstrate how one is in tune with Social Media particulars. Marta Kagan from Boston agency Espresso has for the last 3 years developed a cult following from her public slideshow presentation (pictured at top of article) which delivers hard hitting facts about the explosive growth of social media penetration worldwide. The title of the presentation – ‘What the f**k is social media now?’ (It’s well worth checking out by the way)

And finally, who could overlook the celebrities – the top 2 most followed Twitter pages today? Lady Gaga and Britney Spears.

Case closed!

Deliriant Isti Romani – These Romans are crazy!

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