Marketing
Storytelling
Apr
19

6 Simple Ways to Generate Word-of-Mouth Buzz - #3 Cause Some Outrage

Jaycen Thorgeirson
Founder & Chief Storyteller
Photo by:

Use the Outrageous to Generate Buzz

Image: Nike

This one can be touchy, and that’s the point. You want to say something that’s so outrageous, people have to discuss it (and probably argue with it).

News articles use this all the time. You see it with click-bait titles that draw users in to click and make angry comments, or share it out of anger with their social media followers. Many times, people don’t even read the article… if the title makes them angry enough, they’ll share it.

Titles and topics aren’t the only way to be outrageous. You can also generate this kind of buzz with your actions.

But you can take a big stand and generate outrageous buzz that way. Companies who align themselves with controversial organizations sometimes generate a lot of anger and hate for their trouble. 

It can also generate word-of-mouth buzz that results in huge sales. For example, Nike’s campaign with former NFL-player and protester Colin Kaepernick sparked a boycott… and made Nike $6 billion.

By doing something outrageous, you might make people angry. You’ll also get them talking about you to everyone they know. And people talking about you, if you handle it right, leads to people buying from you.

Time to make everybody over 25 incredibly upset

In 2012, millennials were fairly new to the job market. Many were just finding their first positions, and a lot of millennials who wanted to break into marketing were looking for positions as social media managers.

You would think that would be the perfect place to start! Unfortunately, most social media manager positions asked for “ten to fifteen years experience” in social media. Given that a lot of social media apps hadn’t been around that long yet, it was a big ask.

Irritated by this, Cathryn Sloane wrote “Why Every Social Media Manager Should Be Under 25.” In the article, she explained why millennials are the perfect generation to run social media efforts.

Of course, everyone over 25 was predictably livid… and their angry comments and raging response articles blasted the otherwise-unknown article into virality.

Here’s the only version we could find of the article. Apparently, the outrage worked so well that the article was eventually taken down!

But before it was removed, people shared it, commented on it, and wrote about it. Even high-profile news sources like Forbes got in on the action, writing their own response article and agreeing (!) with the original author, Cathryn Sloane.

Nine years down the line, Cathryn Sloane is now a marketing manager for Varsity Tutors and a contributor for USNews. Even though the article drew a ton of controversy, it only helped her career. 

Image: Clem Onojeghuo

How can you use “outrageous” for your marketing?

The point of being outrageous is to spark debate and get people talking about you, usually talking about how much they disagree with you.

Make a big statement, either in the usual marketing strategies, like your ad copy or blog titles, or using guerrilla marketing.

Say something that will divide people and get them arguing with you and each other.

An Incredibly Important PS:

Never say anything untrue, or anything you don’t believe. This can and will backfire.

Say the controversial truth with your whole heart, and the outrage will generate the buzz you want.


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