Editor’s Note: Today’s post is a guest entry from Stuart Foster, a marketing consultant in the Boston area. He specializes in brand management, social media and blog outreach. He is a frequent commentor at SME and blogs regularly at Thelostjacket.com.

Stuart Foster

Stuart Foster

Pissing people off is an art form. Do it right and you not only incite a great conversation but you might initiate change as well. Do it wrong and end up on the wrong end of a flame war. It’s a tricky line to walk but one that I have found to be extremely effective. Here are a few tips that I utilize on a daily basis or when I’m feeling like inciting conversation:

  1. Make a statement that can be argued both ways.
    The goal: to incite a conversation/debate. This way you can facilitate all parties being heard as each side of the fence will have valid points to argue. You can even have more fun by playing devil’s advocate in comments.
  2. Don’t be afraid to take on anyone, regardless of status, notoriety, or position.
    Call out b.s. when you see it and don’t hold back. The only way you can be heard is if you are completely open with your stances, opinions and ideas. You can’t hold back or try and change your personality … if anything you should personalize things more.
  3. Take a strong initial stance but allow for circumstantial deviation.
    Allow yourself planned retreats and advances. This way you can go for the low hanging fruit and gather time to plan a counter-attack. It also allows you some legalese wiggle room.
  4. Go for the jugular when debating … but explain your points.
    You can absolutely eviscerate someone in commenting, blog posts or conversation. Just make sure you do it while making salient points. You can be a dick, just make sure your argument is practically unassailable while doing so. Pwn smartly.
  5. Do it with a smile.
    Be charming and don’t take yourself so seriously. The Fugees named a song “Killing me Softly” for a reason, do the same with your words. So go for the perception of effortless cool.
  6. Think about your points thoroughly and carefully.
    Map out ideas for any possible direction the conversation could go (and keep notes of them). I have about 4-5 notepad docs open at anytime to jot down new ideas I get.
  7. If all else fails: Laugh and move on.
    You can’t win them all but you can enjoy the defeat or victory as a win for conversation.

Being a squeaky wheel can piss people off, but it’s worth it if it drives the conversation in the right direction or gets everyone back on track.

More insight from Stuart from TheLostJacket.com:

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About Jason Falls

Jason Falls

Jason Falls is the founder and chief instigator for Social Media Explorer's blog. He is a leading thinker, speaker and strategist in the world of digital marketing and is co-author of two books, No Bullshit Social Media: The All-Business, No-Hype Guide To Social Media Marketing and The Rebel's Guide To Email Marketing. By day, he leads digital strategy for CafePress, one of the world's largest online retailers. His opinions are his, not necessarily theirs. Follow him on Twitter (@JasonFalls).

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Comments Policy

Comments on Social Media Explorer are open to anyone. However, I will remove any comment that is disrespectful and not in the spirit of intelligent discourse. You are welcome to leave links to content relevant to the conversation, but I reserve the right to remove it if I don't see the relevancy. Be nice, have fun. Fair?

  • http://tigercom.socialgo.com/home.html roundstone

    Pissing people off cuts against the grain for me. I guess I could take the usual banter but when people (that you don't even know from Adam or Eve) starts calling you names, unprintable ones, I call my lawyer.

    This happened to me recently with one guy who moderates a group like a despot and has the habit of calling people names. It so happened he is a retired professor. He wanted everybody to agree with him. So, I said b.s. pointblank and continued, I simply don't believe what you are saying. So, what now, do I get an F? He started it. I was just reacting.

    Then he started calling me names. I asked my lawyer to look at the thread, do a timeline (it became a continuing harrassment) and evaluate the possibility of punitive damages. He said the guy cannot even hide behind the First Amendment as there is prima facie evidence of libel. I sued for the heck of it and as an exemplary exercise for his elk.

    To push the issue, I also said I would google myself and every thread that shows up is one count of libel. Until now, he is still hiding.

  • http://thelostjacket.com Stuartfoster

    Nope :) Enjoying it immensely actually.

  • http://thelostjacket.com Stuartfoster

    Nope :) Enjoying it immensely actually.

  • http://thelostjacket.com Stuartfoster

    Nope :) Enjoying it immensely actually.

  • http://thelostjacket.com Stuartfoster

    Nope :) Enjoying it immensely actually.

  • http://thelostjacket.com Stuartfoster

    Nope :) Enjoying it immensely actually.

  • http://thelostjacket.com Stuart Foster

    Nope :) Enjoying it immensely actually.

  • http://thelostjacket.com Stuartfoster

    I'm just having fun with it. I don't take any of it very seriously (and I don't look at it as grandstanding). Getting attention is easy, maintaining it is another story entirely.

    Not everyone is as forward thinking as you are George. Most just run and gun and do stuff to deliberately grab attention (sometimes through not so nice means). This is merely an attempt to have fun with that concept and expand on it a bit.

    It is fun to destroy a weak argument though. Not going to lie about that.

  • http://thelostjacket.com Stuartfoster

    I'm just having fun with it. I don't take any of it very seriously (and I don't look at it as grandstanding). Getting attention is easy, maintaining it is another story entirely.

    Not everyone is as forward thinking as you are George. Most just run and gun and do stuff to deliberately grab attention (sometimes through not so nice means). This is merely an attempt to have fun with that concept and expand on it a bit.

    It is fun to destroy a weak argument though. Not going to lie about that.

  • http://thelostjacket.com Stuartfoster

    I'm just having fun with it. I don't take any of it very seriously (and I don't look at it as grandstanding). Getting attention is easy, maintaining it is another story entirely.

    Not everyone is as forward thinking as you are George. Most just run and gun and do stuff to deliberately grab attention (sometimes through not so nice means). This is merely an attempt to have fun with that concept and expand on it a bit.

    It is fun to destroy a weak argument though. Not going to lie about that.

  • http://thelostjacket.com Stuartfoster

    I'm just having fun with it. I don't take any of it very seriously (and I don't look at it as grandstanding). Getting attention is easy, maintaining it is another story entirely.

    Not everyone is as forward thinking as you are George. Most just run and gun and do stuff to deliberately grab attention (sometimes through not so nice means). This is merely an attempt to have fun with that concept and expand on it a bit.

    It is fun to destroy a weak argument though. Not going to lie about that.

  • http://thelostjacket.com Stuartfoster

    I'm just having fun with it. I don't take any of it very seriously (and I don't look at it as grandstanding). Getting attention is easy, maintaining it is another story entirely.

    Not everyone is as forward thinking as you are George. Most just run and gun and do stuff to deliberately grab attention (sometimes through not so nice means). This is merely an attempt to have fun with that concept and expand on it a bit.

    It is fun to destroy a weak argument though. Not going to lie about that.

  • http://thelostjacket.com Stuart Foster

    I'm just having fun with it. I don't take any of it very seriously (and I don't look at it as grandstanding). Getting attention is easy, maintaining it is another story entirely.

    Not everyone is as forward thinking as you are George. Most just run and gun and do stuff to deliberately grab attention (sometimes through not so nice means). This is merely an attempt to have fun with that concept and expand on it a bit.

    It is fun to destroy a weak argument though. Not going to lie about that.

  • http://hightalk.wordpress.com/ George Snell

    Hi Stuart:
    Hard to argue against the “I'm only kidding around” defense. That sounds suspiciously like a duck and cover strategy for your own weak argument :-) I will give you merit points for trying to have fun though.

  • http://hightalk.wordpress.com/ George Snell

    Hi Stuart:
    Hard to argue against the “I'm only kidding around” defense. That sounds suspiciously like a duck and cover strategy for your own weak argument :-) I will give you merit points for trying to have fun though.

  • http://hightalk.wordpress.com/ George Snell

    Hi Stuart:
    Hard to argue against the “I'm only kidding around” defense. That sounds suspiciously like a duck and cover strategy for your own weak argument :-) I will give you merit points for trying to have fun though.

  • http://hightalk.wordpress.com/ George Snell

    Hi Stuart:
    Hard to argue against the “I'm only kidding around” defense. That sounds suspiciously like a duck and cover strategy for your own weak argument :-) I will give you merit points for trying to have fun though.

  • http://hightalk.wordpress.com/ George Snell

    Hi Stuart:
    Hard to argue against the “I'm only kidding around” defense. That sounds suspiciously like a duck and cover strategy for your own weak argument :-) I will give you merit points for trying to have fun though.

  • http://hightalk.wordpress.com/ George Snell

    Hi Stuart:
    Hard to argue against the “I'm only kidding around” defense. That sounds suspiciously like a duck and cover strategy for your own weak argument :-) I will give you merit points for trying to have fun though.

  • http://www.costadevault.com/blog Heather Whaling

    Stuart,

    Love the humorous take! Sometimes, people are so afraid of upsetting people that we play it too safe. While I don't agree with picking a fight just for the sake of picking a fight (which I don't think is what you're advocating anyway), I do think that we need be willing to step outside our comfort zones and offer opinions. Pushing the envelope isn't a bad thing!

    Heather (@prtini)

  • http://www.costadevault.com/blog Heather Whaling

    Stuart,

    Love the humorous take! Sometimes, people are so afraid of upsetting people that we play it too safe. While I don't agree with picking a fight just for the sake of picking a fight (which I don't think is what you're advocating anyway), I do think that we need be willing to step outside our comfort zones and offer opinions. Pushing the envelope isn't a bad thing!

    Heather (@prtini)

  • http://www.costadevault.com/blog Heather Whaling

    Stuart,

    Love the humorous take! Sometimes, people are so afraid of upsetting people that we play it too safe. While I don't agree with picking a fight just for the sake of picking a fight (which I don't think is what you're advocating anyway), I do think that we need be willing to step outside our comfort zones and offer opinions. Pushing the envelope isn't a bad thing!

    Heather (@prtini)

  • http://www.costadevault.com/blog Heather Whaling

    Stuart,

    Love the humorous take! Sometimes, people are so afraid of upsetting people that we play it too safe. While I don't agree with picking a fight just for the sake of picking a fight (which I don't think is what you're advocating anyway), I do think that we need be willing to step outside our comfort zones and offer opinions. Pushing the envelope isn't a bad thing!

    Heather (@prtini)

  • http://www.costadevault.com/blog Heather Whaling

    Stuart,

    Love the humorous take! Sometimes, people are so afraid of upsetting people that we play it too safe. While I don't agree with picking a fight just for the sake of picking a fight (which I don't think is what you're advocating anyway), I do think that we need be willing to step outside our comfort zones and offer opinions. Pushing the envelope isn't a bad thing!

    Heather (@prtini)

  • http://www.costadevault.com/blog Heather Whaling

    Stuart,

    Love the humorous take! Sometimes, people are so afraid of upsetting people that we play it too safe. While I don't agree with picking a fight just for the sake of picking a fight (which I don't think is what you're advocating anyway), I do think that we need be willing to step outside our comfort zones and offer opinions. Pushing the envelope isn't a bad thing!

    Heather (@prtini)

  • David Chapman

    you're kinda weird mate. how's that for evisceratin'?

  • David Chapman

    you're kinda weird mate. how's that for evisceratin'?

  • David Chapman

    you're kinda weird mate. how's that for evisceratin'?

  • David Chapman

    you're kinda weird mate. how's that for evisceratin'?

  • David Chapman

    you're kinda weird mate. how's that for evisceratin'?

  • David Chapman

    you're kinda weird mate. how's that for evisceratin'?

  • David Chapman

    you're kinda weird mate. how's that for evisceratin'?

  • huangqin
  • http://www.taotedesign.com/ Vincent Le Pes

    :D

  • http://www.taotedesign.com/ Vincent Le Pes

    :D

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  • http://www.adsyou.com/ شقق للبيع في الاردن

    Most just run and gun and do stuff to deliberately grab attention
    (sometimes through not so nice means). This is merely an attempt to have
    fun with that concept and expand on it a bit.

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    Thx.. for share it.

    This is my blog http://www.dbestlists.com/category/best-tumblr/

  • Q Turner

    …cue the PR team freak-out in 5… 4… 3… 2… 

  • http://www.e-crm.co.uk Jim Bath

    Haha, this is me to a T. Though I often end up on the “wrong end of a flame war” side…

  • ToddMillett

    Thanks for the great advice. Let me try it out. (because you like this, right?)

    “You can even have more fun by playing devil’s advocate in comments.”
    “The only way you can be heard is if you are completely open with your stances, opinions and ideas.”

    Ok, time to go for the jugular by calling you out on your B.S: How exactly do you plan on doing both of these at once? It isn’t possible. If you are playing devils advocate, you are choosing to contradict people’s statements regardless of what they say. If you are being completely open with your stances, opinions, and ideas, it doesn’t matter what anyone else says. You will still keep your same side.

    The second quote is accurate in my opinion, but I challenge you to find other ways of gaining recognition than intentionally pissing people off on the internet just for the sake of drawing attention to yourself and your blog. If you are always completely open with your stances, opinions, and ideas, then you won’t have to instigate. Arguments will naturally come your way when people disagree with you. Then, you can argue out of your passion for something other than arguing.

  • http://www.socialmediamarketingmall.com/twitter-followers Nathan Kuneda

    Really true man. This really has a lot of sense and relates to some of my experiences. Thanks for this article. 

  • Suzy

    You must be really young if you think the Fugees named a song Killing Me Softly. Roberta Flack wrote it and it was a HUGE HIT in the 70′s. (80′s?) Dude!!

    • Carl

      the carpenters also covered it. he was using as an example though and not the point of the article. duh!

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