Back in April, I wrote about how you can use suspense to promote interaction within your community. Another technique that I am seeing more often is the use of deliberate controversy.
Controversy can be a great way of encouraging interaction amongst your community members, however it can be a dangerous method to employ.
Why controversy can encourage interaction
Nothing gets people emotionally involved in an argument more than controversy. Just as you may consider religion and politics a subject you do not want to get involved in, these same subjects can generate a huge amount of interaction and content for your community.
A community where everyone agrees with everyone else, and the only posts are those where members say hello and goodbye is boring. A community that enjoys a little controversy and upsets some of its members from time to time can be exciting.
The dangers of using controversy
The very same aspects that can make your community a little more exciting can also drive your members away. Writing a post that you may very well not actually agree with, but know will generate controversy, can send your members the wrong signal.
They may believe that what you are writing comes from your heart and that they are your true opinions. Some people feel passionately about certain subjects. Using controversy could drive them away and leave them so angry they never return.
This is only one extreme, though. If you use controversy with caution and only employ it when you understand your community, you should be able to stir up your members without antagonising them.
I think controversy is a fantastic way of generating interaction. It must be used carefully though. Only employ this tactic if you are confident you will not end up driving members away. If you have never written a deliberately controversial post before, work yourself up to it. Write something you think may be mildly controversial before going for the jugular!
Perhaps start off by disagreeing with something like the minimum wage. If this goes down well, try something a little more controversial; perhaps write about what you consider to be the benefits of war. Just tread softly and see how your community deals with controversy.
You will soon learn how far you can push your members and in the meantime will be encouraging interaction and hopefully be having a little fun!
What are your thoughts on using controversy to encourage interaction? Do you feel it is unethical? Do you feel that by employing such a tactic you are playing with fire? Have you deliberately written controversial content to stir up your members? Share your experiences and thoughts by leaving a comment below.