After the final presidential debate, Ann Coulter initiated a content marketing firestorm when she tweeted:
Immediately, her tweet attracted attention, from journalists, politicians and in particular, the Special Olympics, which a few years ago, spearheaded an aggressive campaign to Spread the Word to End the Word.
I’m not interested in initiating a political debate; I’m not even particularly keen to address the hurtful impact of Ms. Coulter’s very inappropriate tweet (as the mother of a child with Down syndrome, the response from Special Olympics ambassador John Franklin Stephens pretty much sums up my feelings.)
But I do think that there are some really important content marketing lessons that can be learned from Ms. Coulter’s tweet and the ensuing backlash.
And as a marketing professional, I think it’s worth exploring.
I hear all the time from clients trivializing the importance of online marketing and social media strategy.
But in the last year, I’ve also seen many crisis-driven responses to unsolicited social media attention, in many cases from those same clients who were so cynical.
Social media has impact; it can give a message legs.
And the reality is that more and more, your target stakeholders are using social media platforms to communicate. These platforms enhance the public’s:
Your message (or even lack thereof) can have impact in the blink of an eye. And if your message isn’t being heralded as something worth discussing, it very well might be your competitor attracting the attention of your target client.
Consider this -
Ann Coulter’s tweet, within less than 48 hours, had been favourited more than one thousand times, and retweeted 3 times as many.
You can use the power of social media to perpetuate a message.
Use the power wisely.
Now, to be crystal clear, I am not at all suggesting that you insult or demean folks via Twitter.
However, taking an unpopular position on a controversial subject can be really effective. Unlike Ms. Coulter, however, I would suggest that you back up that controversial position with a sound rationale and not resort to childish bullying techniques.
My friend Marcus Sheridan, inbound marketing genius, uses this tactic very effectively.
I’m also not suggesting, by the way, that opposition for the sake of argument, makes sense.
Your position should always be authentic. You must always be true to your brand and your point of view.
In this post, for instance, I wasn’t just seeking to malign other folks in my industry. I was speaking from the heart – I genuinely believe that the corporate sector is riddled with incompetence and mediocrity.
And in fairness, in this post, I’m probably trying to capitalize a wee bit on Ms. Coulter’s controversial tweet – I figure that if there is any good that can come from it, I might as well squeeze it out.
The most effective content marketing campaigns inspire conversation. That is, two-way communication that promotes a greater sense of engagement and interest.
Here’s what bothers me more than anything about Ann Coulter’s tweet.
It could have been an opportunity for further conversation and growth.
It might have provided a forum for learning and education. It did for Lady Gaga. It did for Lebron James. It did for Kirstie Alley:
In Ann Coulter’s case, heartfelt and meaningful conversation might have even given a lift to her plummeting books sales (can’t say I’m terribly disappointed about that unfortunate trend :-), especially since I suspect it was her motivation to use the word in the first place).
But rather than engaging in dialogue, and accepting John Franklin Stephens’ invitation to learn more about the Special Olympics, Ann Coulter responded with:
The only people who will be offended are too retarded to understand it.
Can’t imagine that really endeared prospective customers all that much. I suppose my advice here is to do the OPPOSITE of what Ms. Coulter did.
Understand your target client’s pain points and frustrations and demonstrate an empathic interest.
Did you catch Ann Coulter’s tweet? Dare I ask what you thought? Do you still underestimate the impact and importance of content marketing? Share your thoughts in the comments section below, and give this post a little share if you found it useful. It would also be great if you liked our new Facebook page – there is an easy-to-use widget on the right.