Sunday, March 1, 2009

Channeling Your Angry Man

In today’s media and message saturated world it’s the angry man who commands attention.

Think Howard Stern, Rush Limbaugh and Oprah Winfrey. The angry man isn’t about gender, ideology or broadcast medium. Rather, it is a person who is intelligent, articulate and, most important, bold enough to share their thoughts even when they cut against popular opinion.

Incorporating an angry man component into the editorial content strategy of your social media program is a must in a business-to-business environment. That’s because regardless of how proactive you are in promotion, readers who fail to find content that engages, educates and entertains won’t return. And nothing helps achieve these objectives more than some healthy controversy.

Yet, there is a fine line between an effective angry man who encourages readership and someone who has slipped into the world of offensive and obscene. The later ostracizes key audiences and can actually damage the prospects of the business. (Image courtesy of

Here are few of my suggestions on how to be a winning angry man:

1. Select topics with competing perspectives and make an argument. Recently, I suggested Web 2.0 companies like Facebook and Twitter charge users as a means of developing multiple revenue streams. I knew this view – regardless of how well presented – would find a hostile reception.

Sure enough, a majority of the nearly 20 comments to my blog post took exception. However, readership of the post was more than five times my typical daily average and the number of subscribers doubled in 24 hours.

2. Steer clear of the three “no-no’s.” That would be politics, religion and sex. When it comes to interaction in a business environment, the chance to offend on these firecracker topics is simply too great.

3. Every so often carefully pick a topic that puts your hand in the hornet’s nest. My experience last year speaking to a journalism class at the American University inspired a blog post titled “Colleges Fail on Social Media.” I shared this post with an online community of public relations students knowing there would be considerable blow back for my generalization.

It came alright and I was flogged in a number of posts that pointed to my blog. The risk of offending this non-influential group was well worth it though, as my readership and Technorati authority received a measurable bump.

4. Consider opposing views and respond intelligently. I make it a point to direct message every rationale commenter to my blog, Twitter feed and LinkedIn posts. I may not agree, but I listen and that’s the foundation of any dialogue.

5. Never stoop to attacks on person or company. There are some in the blogosphere who are quick to refer to others as uninformed, clueless and even stupid. It’s petty and unprofessional.

The closest I came was my blog post about a speaker’s lack of preparation at an event at a high-end business venue. Several weeks later I ran into the individual I criticized at a Social Media Club event. We shook hands and chatted about the industry. He knew my post wasn’t personal; it was just me being the angry man.


Paul Zukowski said...

"Angry Man" doesn't fit your topic at all. And giving Stern, Limbauhg and Winfrey as examples doesn't ring true, either. Oprah don't get angry, boy, she's get's real! And Limbaugh courts controversy, but he's a happy guy. Stern, I don't go there.

Not sure what to suggest, except to say your piece makes good points but needs a new hed, lede and pic.

Erika Rossi Raia said...

Great point! Do you think me calling the local reporter a schmuck was inappropriate? Or, was it okay because he shouldn't have called a particular group of young athletes stupid?

What do you think?