Most blog posts, frankly, are crap. A grammatically correct, topical and fluid article may be a thing of technical beauty, but it isn’t enough to elicit a passionate response from readers, or even convince them to finish a sentence. Companies who hire a blogger who provokes a response from the “too long; didn’t read” Internet audience have the key to a successful website, and it’s much easier to succeed with the help of some nuanced humor, controlled controversy and shameless pop culture references. Not every company gains an advantage with a bold blog, but many brands can benefit from employing a liberal use of audacious personality. The most enticing, memorable and popular sites use the following tools expertly, and with great zeal.
Anything is Funny, in the Right Light
Modern, youthful browsers are savvy with sarcasm and appreciate content that deftly uses dry wit and mild — occasionally even heavy — castigation, eviscerating the competition or others with perceived failings for the amusement of all. Articles that are falsely enthusiastic face, at best, immediate abandonment from a cynical crowd that prefers self-aware satire to pandering sweetness. That doesn’t imply that mean-spirited writing is the solution; senseless cruelty is just as likely to ultimately fail as any other contrivance.
There is a trick to successful jesting in a digital forum. A business needs a clear vision of what its customers are like, and how it wants to present itself to them. Tangential anecdotes work great on relatable blogs about lifestyle or fashion, self- deprecation flourishes on dating sites, and technology or business pages delightfully embrace a subtler, drier wit.
Controversy Versus Provocation
Judging by news article titles alone, controversy is an especially effective means of drawing eyes to a site. But inflammatory political quips aren’t the only provocative material available to webmasters; sexual innuendo, violent imagery and religious doctrine are useful communication devices in the right context for attention-grabbing pieces. However, bloggers need to be extremely cautious when manipulating contentious information for notice, as it often backfires when even slightly mishandled.
Controversial writing is for niche subjects and goods, but there’s a way to cleverly provoke a response from others without the site being the focus of torch-wielding demonstrators. Blogs that report on polemics and then solicit commentary from users couch themselves in a pseudo-journalistic objectivity, while still acquiring a fiery reaction.
Many denizens of the Internet are searching online for the latest information on celebrities, movies, bands and other leaders of entertainment. Studding an article, whether humorous, staid or controversial, with topical pop culture references helps attract gossipmongers to an area of the web they may never venture otherwise. Incorporating trending material naturally is vital, or it risks alienating the viewers. As with all these implements, dropping pop culture references into more informal pieces performs the best.
Fortune favors the bold, and businesses that hire a blogger who utilizes humor, controversy and pop culture effectively and with sophistication makes the difference between a site that has a few sporadic clicks and a ravenous contributing following. No single tactic is perfect for every brand, but a careful study of the content, readership and philosophy reveals the appropriate style that turns a frankly crappy blog into a daily destination.
Ashley B is a freelance writer available on WriterAccess, a marketplace where clients and expert writers connect for assignments.