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Controversial Topics Can Hurt Your Brand

We’ve all heard it before, “Try a little controversy in your content for better engagement”. In this post I want to look at the value of content that supports your brand and how dragging your personal feelings into the face of your audience just may be a mistake.

What is your brand

First, let’s look at what we’re talking about when we talk about a brand. There are basically two types of brands we see on most social media sites – personal and business. Either way, you’re probably striving for one major goal – influence. The big issue we see today, that really wasn’t a huge problem ten years ago, is social media makes it tough to separate personal and business.

Personal and Business

Controversial Topics
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I recently wrote a post for Hot Blog Tips entitled Separating Personal and Business on Instagram. The article basically explains why I separated my personal and business Instagram photos by creating a personal account. Now, those following Hot Blog Tips because they want more on what we teach there aren’t being subjected to pics of my family, dog, and other personal content. I also have, as you know since you’re already here, a personal blog to separate from my business related blogs (Even though this post could be considered business).. The same with Facebook, G+, and YouTube.

I’m sure you can see the value in consistent and focused content geared for those that follow that brand. Our Avatar, if you will. That doesn’t mean we can’t let a little of our personal lives flow into view of our Avatar; that can show we are “real” people, just like they are. Of course, there’s always the chance that the real you is an ass and would be better left out of public scrutiny. lol

Now, let’s look at the extreme personal content being shared on social media – controversial content. This type of content could be something like your personal feelings on politics, down to using inappropriate language.

Politics and Religion

My mother always told me to avoid talking about religion and politics. That’s great advice that I never embraced; at least not in my personal life.

The way I see it, there are a couple problems with publishing your personal thoughts about controversial topics on your blog or social media.

  1. First, you’re either preaching to the choir or you’re pissing someone off. Seriously, you are NEVER going to change a single mind on social media. Frankly, it just adds to the drama and clutters up everyone’s streams with garbage content. I know, it might seem better than kitty photos but, unless the cat is being tortured, it’s generally not going to be considered offensive.
  2. Second, when we’re expressing our opinions about religion or politics, we are slamming the doors in the face of the vast majority of potential customers we strive so hard to attract. I used to say it was half of the population but, since the web is worldwide, that percentage has increased way above 50%.

Be Strategic

It’s not necessarily that you’re going to “offend” everyone, it’s that you’re not focusing on the topic your audience is seeking, you’re not being strategic with content creation or curation, and you just may be turning people off and causing them to tune out. Not very good business, is it?

The One Exception

The one big exception, of course, is if it’s your business to pull on people’s emotions. I’m sure Rush Limbaugh would be in the poor house if he took my advice.


It’s all about priorities. That is, unless you’ve separated your business and personal accounts but, even then, it might be a good idea to put a little thought into those posts that are inspired by emotion. I don’t know about you but I haven’t seen a business that can afford to offend more than half of their cliental. </rant>

About This Author

Brian D. Hawkins is a late-blooming thought leader in his mind. So please don't disturb his happy thoughts. It's all he has.

Brian D. Hawkins has been a blogger for over twenty years, having written thousands of public articles on dozens of websites. He currently blogs for and his personal blog at

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