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Questions and Controversy

Posted by on November 24, 2008

If you could have one super power what would it be?  John McCain should be president.  What questions should you ask while forming a social media strategy?  Social media belongs only under the marketing department.  Who do you consider a social media “expert” and why?

When you read the above statements or questions what did you think?  Did you want to respond to them?

Questions and controversy, 2 powerful ways to engage your audience and create conversations.  If you’ve been reading this blog (which I hope you have) you may have noticed that I ask questions quite frequently, and that’s because I want you to think when you read my posts and then I want you to respond.  Asking questions is great for virtually any social situation and that’s why questions work so well online.  It is our nature to automatically think of little responses when see questions, we can’t help it, we are curious and we are inquisitive.

Think of first dates, meeting new people, reading this blog, etc.  Questions are always a great way to get the conversation started, don’t you think?  They invite opinions, different points of view, new ideas, criticisms and compliments.  All of which make for an interesting conversation.  However, when you ask questions make sure they are relevant, it’s good to give the user’s some freedom but if you leave every question you ask as broad and open ended it may not be as effective; sometimes it’s good to give direction.  Here are some of the questions that I ask on this blog at the end of my posts and I find that I get great responses:

  • What did you think of (insert topic)?
  • How would you use (insert tool/topic)?
  • How would you create your own (insert topic/tool)?
  • Did I miss anything in my post?  (this is great because it helps users engage and act as the “experts” I love using this question because I get some awesome responses from you guys)
  • Would you recommend (insert tool/topic/strategy)?  Why or why not?
  • If you were (insert person/company) how would you (insert topic/idea/strategy)?

These are just a few of the many questions that I ask in my posts.  What are some effective questions that you use in your posts?  Do you even use questions in your posts?

Controversy is another great way to start conversations and engage your users.  Some people stray away from controversy, I dive right into them, because that’s just how I am.  There is nothing wrong with being controversial and stating your opinion (with taste though).  I do so frequently, some people agree with me and some don’t, that’s just how it is and I’m fine with it.  I’m not trying to convert anyone or force anyone to subscribe to my way of thinking.

My latest bit of controversy was with Robert Scoble who mentioned that he hand selects everyone he follows on twitter even though he follows just under 21,000 people, you’re telling me he hand picked 21,000 people?…right.  Then he goes onto say that Friend Feed is great because he receives a much higher rate of activity and more people have followed him there than they have on twitter in the first 9 months, I called him “clueless.” (even though a few months ago Friend Feed made Robert a default recommended user to follow when people first signed up).

Now, I’m not saying that I was right or that Robert was right.  The point is that it was something controversial and that I wasn’t afraid to go after it, and neither should you.  I’ve been called out many times and I have called out people many times.  Controversy is a great way to create debate and create a bit of argument (no there is nothing wrong with argument).  A few weeks ago I wrote a post about why social media marketing should be its own department and I had many folks disagree with me, no problem.  Controversy can help make you unique and stand out, let all the other folks out there agree with each other, you don’t have to!  Combine asking questions with covering or creating a bit of controversy and you have a winning combination.  Social media isn’t always puppies and roses ya know?

What do you think?  Does controversy work to start discussion?  What about asking questions?

Thanks for reading!

  • The great thing about blogging is that it allows bloggers to ask questions from their customers (readers). It's a two way communication and both parties can learn from the process unlike traditional marketing communication.

    Controversy is also a good thing because it stimulates conversation and learning.

    John P. Kreiss
    MorganSullivan, Inc.
    Business Solutions in Real Estate and Construction

    • hey john, absolutely. 10 years ago you wouldn't think that a customer with apparently “no voice” could start something like “dell hell.” You would never think that a customer would be able to respond to a fortune 500 company. Now we are seeing more and more conversations going on all over the place between brand and their users, it's a great time!

      thanks for reading and commenting!

  • My life is controversy. I think it helps get conversations going. If I mention something political, something about my controversial life, or just an opinion I have on a popular topic I get replies more if it is controversial then if I ask something like, “What's your favorite Cereal?”

    The human emotion thrives on controversy. Everyone has an opinion. Everyone wants to share. That being said, it is important to balance controversy with regularity. Otherwise, people might begin to think you only speak to get a reaction, to be popular or to argue. I'm not controversial to argue, but to hopefully educate and change minds. Ultimately, it's all in how you act and how controversial you are. Finding that balance is paramount.

    • Heh. Some people lack opinions. How many times are you asked what sort of food you'd like to eat for dinner as people are planning a party and you respond, “I don't care. Anything but seafood.”

      • oh man when it comes to food i will admit im a bit flippant, food is one of those things where as long as it's there, i wont complain 🙂 i eat almost anything!

        thanks for the comment!

    • hey dominick, yes you definitely need a balance otherwise you will lose your readers. can;t be all one sided. great point, controversy is a great way to educate people and to get them to think differently, going against the grain 🙂

      thanks for the comment!

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  • wonderful article. Thanks for this post. Keep up posting interesting articles…God bless!

  • yes i agree with you

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