BLG Leadership Insights Social Media

Controversial Content, GASP!, Equals Social Media Success

Michael Lazerow is CEO of Buddy Media–a company that helps companies brand themselves on Facebook.

Mr. Lazerow, in an interview with Advertising Age, believes that  “roughly two-thirds of a companies Facebook content should be controversial in nature.”

Controversial content, Mr. Lazerow concludes, drives Facebook users to comment, ‘like’ posts, and interact with a company’s larger Facebook page.

The article in Advertising Age cautiously concludes that opinions, jokes, winks, and inside references attract more attention than typical promotional statements on social media sites.

It’s a wonder no one stopped the presses.

To illustrate the point three Facebook status updates from the Oreo Company are supplied along with the number of people who actively ‘liked’ the post and the number of people who replied to the post.

  • “Ever try dunking an Oreo cookie with a fork or anything else?” 8,200 likes and 2,300 comments
  • “Pick a flavor, any flavor! If you could create a new Oreo cream flavor, what would it be?” 7,100 likes, 12,500 comments
  • “Pop quiz: Twist, lick, then…” 6,500 likes, 6,200 comments

The last query, a thinly veiled sexual joke turned post, attracted the most attention, ‘likes’, and comments.

Proof at last that people would rather join in on a blue joke than help a company come up with its future products!

It should be obvious to anyone mounting a social media campaign that honest, open, direct talk will be  accepted over promotional phrases regurgitated by copy writers.

What’s odd about the article in Advertising Age and ones like it are their treatment and perception of social media platforms. Their tone belongs more to a bewildered 19th century man who is at home in a bowler than to someone comfortable with the habits and norms of social media.

Worse, it’s an odd lesson to teach. Business magazines and blogs are dedicating their front pages to tell  marketing departments across the globe that they should stop whatever they were doing, pick up social media, and talk from the heart–not the index of an old Marketing 101 textbook.

Who, one wonders, needs this wake-up call?

I’m being a bit cynical and I’ll admit these articles have a purpose and place.  They are useful for waving in front of social-media-phobic bosses and they help people learn from the mistakes of others.

I just wish that they wouldn’t talk about social media with the caution and vocabulary of an academic. When they say controversial language attracts more attention they should really say: don’t be afraid of have an opinion and make a joke. It’s social media–not a marketing algorithm.