I hate you

shock words grab attention

Everyone online with something to promote or sell is competing for advertising in an exhaustive challenge to out-bid, out-last, and to stand-out from the rest to get to an audience. If the average company doesn’t achieve success through standard social media and blog posts they might resort to creative content often including shock tactics. But is this the most effective way to generate attention that results in sales or are they just alienating their client base?


Advertising Standards Authority conducted a survey that reflected on areas in which an audience felt caused the most distress.  Charities were at top with distressing messages, followed by government funded public information campaigns, then by large brand fashion.   In another survey by PR Week 47% of the public indicated seeing shock content though got their attention it led to a disassociation of the product, service, or cause referenced.  18% were curious, and 12% were numb to the tactic with no opinion.


Advertising comes down to distribution numbers,  even if we offend 50% of our audience the benefit of obtaining 1000% of a greater audience highly outweighs the negative impact.   What happens when the numbers don’t weight out?  The short lived lifespan of a post can make controversial content well worth the effort.


So what do you do to stay competitive within this new cultural change in marketing content strategy? Positive campaigns promote goodwill, generate conversations and encourage the audience to share you would think…  in many cases you wouldn’t be wrong when that content is related to personal struggle.  Personal challenges are among the highest shared viral content within social media.  Even after someone’s committed a crime if they were potentially victimized at any point following that crime they’re story as a personal challenge becomes significantly more viral than their story as a criminal.   This is the power of positive content as it relates to personal challenge and it is a common leveraged trend in the highly already viral entertainment industry.     With careful execution any story can be turned into a positive challenge strategy.


Want to get some attention to you next post – add one of the following keywords in your headline – like, hate, mistakes, fix, and then apply it to something personal.  This tactic gets you about 50% more hits to your content.   Why would such a strategy product results?  It’s part of our culture – self-improvement, we thrive for complements and cringe at insults but it’s the insults that grab more of our attention.


Another method to achieve an audience on the fringe of shock content is by utilizing humor or making light of a serious topic.  Info-graphics have evolved significantly into a simple but creative content strategy and they are not just for graphs and charts anymore.   Take any picture and apply it to a catchy statement, tagline, or common phrase and you have the start to something potentially worthy of sharing.   Throw a cat into it and you have an instant recipe for viral post success.


Shock content isn’t going away anytime soon as a significant driver in its value is low cost to entry.  You can spend hundreds on a dynamic info-graphic, PowerPoint, or multimedia piece when you can simply use a bold misleading statement and off the shelf controversial image.   It’s notable that multimedia content gets 70% more views/shares than standard posts regardless of type.


There’s a fine line between entertainment and advertising.  Shock content is entertaining and we all want to be entertained.


David Raine


Leave a Reply