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Finding the Line in Content Marketing: How to Be Edgy Without Alienating Customers

Everyone wants to be edgy these days, right? Jump on current events. Say something thought provoking. Be a part of the discussion. But as we know, this can backfire. Remember American Apparel’s Hurricane Sandy sale? Kenneth Cole’s poor attempt at humor during the Egyptian uprising? So much fail.

Not many companies pull off the whole edgy content thing. Because really, how many companies can truly say they are edgy? You may think that’s the way to get your audience interacting with you, but you’re risking alienating customers with messaging that’s, at best, off-brand and at worst, offensive. And why would you want to push away customers or potential customers just so you could call yourself an “edgy” brand?

When it comes to your content, you shouldn’t really TRY to be anything — just be yourself. And by yourself, I mean your brand. You do have brand standards, right? Communication guidelines? Personas? Geez, I hope you do! Let these be your guide.

“Good” Edgy vs. “Bad” Edgy

I like this article’s take on good versus bad edgy content.

Good:

  • Polarizing It’s ok to take a side, but back it up with research and good reasons.
  • Intellectually challenging – Question current practices and beliefs related to your industry.
  • Addresses your competitors – This can be tricky. Be factual, and don’t be petty.
  • Relevant topics – Opinions on legislation, regulation, questionable industry practices, etc., are all fair game.
  • Open-ended – Encourage your readers to offer their point of view, and engage in the discussion.

Bad:

  • Proclaiming personal beliefs – Remember that your content reflects your company and not the views of the person writing your content.
  • Topics irrelevant to your business or industry – Don’t jump into a conversation in which you have no stake. You’ll just confuse people.
  • Gossip (industry, competitive or personal) – Don’t be that guy/gal splashing around in the gossip pool. You’re not a tabloid.

Bottom line: be authentic to your brand, your audience and your industry. The goal here is to make your readers become fans of who you are and what you’re passionate about. If you feel like something might be toeing the line, ask a few people in your organization what they think before you make a terrible mistake—or an awesome edgy post.

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