From Brexit to the impending U.S elections, conflict is everywhere in the media at the moment. Though it can make the overall online experience a little difficult to bear at times, there’s no denying how popular controversy can be among the general public. In this article, we look at some of the ways you can capitalise on conflict from a digital marketing perspective.
Start a Debate in the Comments Section
If you use Facebook, you’ll know that for sites like Vice and the Guardian, the comments sections often enjoy more views than some of the articles themselves. Unfortunately, things can get a little toxic, but with proper moderation and a clear explanation of what is and isn’t acceptable, there’s no reason that debates have to become unhealthy. Posting articles that pose controversial questions can be a good way of encouraging your users to engage with each other. Obviously, there’s a fine line between cynical click bait and genuinely good content but providing what you publish is of a professional standard and free from anything deliberately offensive, you can usually encourage a good level of engagement. Topics that are current, interesting and divisive are usually a good bet and if you can tailor your content to include some elements of your business niche, you could stand to enjoy an increase in your customer engagement.
Twitter and Facebook Polls
Polls can be great for gauging public opinion and they’re usually quite popular amongst internet users due to their relatively simple format. It takes seconds to fill in a few answers and the results are generally instant. The curiosity factor means that many users will complete a poll, just to see how the prevailing wind of public opinion is blowing, so to speak. Though asking people who they plan to vote for is to be avoided, questions based around particular policies or initiatives can be very effective indeed. Even if your business doesn’t have anything to do with politics per se, with the right level of research and the correct tone of voice, you can use current issues as a jumping off point for debate amongst your customers.
Celebrity Beefs and Battles
Whether the very public arguments that we see between high profile celebrities are engineered by media agencies for the sake of generating exposure remains to be seen, but there’s no denying how popular this kind of content can be. In the UK, several hip hop and grime artists took to twitter to spend time criticising each other in the most creative ways possible. Even making specific “diss” tracks to further fan the flames of the controversy. As many street and sports wear brands offer sponsorship to musicians like this, getting in on the action can be seen as a shrewd move. Whether it’s morally questionable is quite another issue, but history has shown us that the general public adore controversy, with many of them seeing twitter spats and tit for tat insult throwing as a kind of real-life soap opera. From a marketing perspective, referencing these controversies can be provide you with an instant boost in engagement, providing you pitch your content in the right way.
Though some people claim the golden age of the influencer is ending, they’re still considered some of the most important figures in both celebrity culture and marketing. The famous Logan Paul vs KSI bouts attracted a huge amount of media attention and took the practice of online beefing to another level. For businesses who want to capitalise on this level of exposure, articles, videos and quick content such as polls can be a fantastic way to stay on trend. Providing things don’t get out of hand, this form of online jousting that spills over into the physical world can provide the kind of momentum that is hard to generate through traditional marketing campaigns. Though it would be difficult for most smaller firms to get celebrities of this level on board with their campaigns, the same sort of principals can be applied with potentially excellent results. Just be mindful of potential legal issues such as libel and slander as lawsuits can be extremely expensive.
Esports and Organised Competitions
Now that the world of competitive gaming is an industry in its own right, it attracts supporters from all sections of society. Digital marketing businesses could easily utilise the ever-growing popularity of competitive gaming as part of their campaigns. Retro gaming events that encourage people to challenge each other to beat certain times or scores are often really good fun and can also double as product launch or networking events. Though this kind of “conflict” is generally something people take less seriously than high profile online arguments, the competitive edge can add an extra dimension to events that are typically a little sterile or dry. On a slightly higher level, sponsorship at e-sports events can be a great way to give your company some much needed exposure in a very short space of time.
Comedy from Conflict
As the now famous Taylor Armstrong and Smudge the cat meme has proved, even situations that felt negative and unpleasant at the time can become a source of comedy gold and consequently, marketing magic, too. It’s always important to pitch this kind of content in the right way to avoid causing genuine offence to people but making light of serious situations to lighten the mood can provide your audience with a much-needed lift in mood. Though the current online climate can feel overtly hostile, some gentle humour and good-natured ribbing can be wonderful way to dilute the brutality of some of the less savoury outbursts in the comment section. Just make sure you don’t push things too far and be aware of people’s boundaries if you can. As we mentioned earlier, lawsuits can be expensive and all it takes is a well-timed screenshot to turn a joke in to a nightmare.