Is Being Controversial a Good Way to Get More Views on TikTok?

There’s no shortage of controversy on TikTok, whether it’s from people criticizing beloved celebrities, or foodies explaining why they think pineapple on pizza is a good thing. Some of these videos rack up views and comments fairly quickly, even if they aren’t well received; this gets some creators wondering if they should stir up controversy purely to boost their views. After all, this seems to be a fairly beneficial strategy for other creators, so why not try it for themselves? 

In some cases, this isn’t actually such a bad idea. Finding success on TikTok is partly dependent on getting high engagement rates, and many controversial topics generate a lot of buzz from viewers. Another popular option is to simply buy TikTok followers. The question is, how far is too far when it comes to being controversial on TikTok? If you think this strategy could be right for you, here are a few factors to think about.

What makes a TikTok video controversial?

There are a million controversial topics to choose from, and some of them might not even be obvious. For example, making a “hot take” style video, with an unpopular opinion on a trending topic, is obviously controversial. However, some videos fly under the radar by presenting incorrect information, mixing up facts, or making obvious editing errors that viewers are sure to catch. If you look at the comment sections of some of these videos, you’ll see hundreds to thousands of people remarking on the same mistake, with others arguing that it was just an innocent error. In addition to the obviously controversial topics, there are also videos that really get people going in the comments section over trivial details; these can also be considered controversial. 

Why controversial topics result in higher engagement

Let’s consider a hypothetical TikTok page that posts how-to tutorials. A video shows how you can make a hole in the rind of a watermelon, invert a 1-liter bottle of soda into the hole, and wait for the fruit to absorb the soda. A few hours later, simply stick a straw into the hole and enjoy your perfectly mixed watermelon-soda slushie.

Even if viewers don’t try this for themselves, it’s pretty obvious that this won’t work. Watermelons may be mostly liquid, but they aren’t capable of absorbing soda through a single hole, and the texture won’t magically transform into a drinkable liquid just because the video creator said it would. And guess what happens next? A huge percentage of viewers feel obligated to comment on these facts. Then other viewers join in, saying the creator means well, and the video is just for entertainment. Before you know it, the video of a poorly executed, factually incorrect tutorial is getting off-the-charts engagement.

It works pretty much the same way for any type of controversy. Give people something to argue about, and they’ll take it from there. While this may sound like the golden ticket to success, the truth is that some controversies can actually land creators in hot water. There’s such a thing as the wrong kind of attention, especially if you’re trying to build a brand as a TikTok creator. This is why, if you want to get more views on TikTok through controversial videos, there are some considerations that you should keep in mind.

How far is too far when it comes to controversial videos on TikTok?

If you decide that controversy will be the key to higher engagement for your videos, your strategy should come from a simple cost-benefit analysis. On the cost side, there’s the cost to your reputation – this includes your reputation on TikTok, and maybe even your reputation in the real world. On the benefit side, there’s the advantage of higher engagement rates, more followers, and potentially more chances at making money on the platform. 

 Some creators decide that fame and recognition are worth any cost to their personal reputations, and so they go all-in to court controversy. One example of this is the TikToker known as “Mizzy”, who became famous – or rather, infamous – for his prank videos. Unlike many TikTok prank videos, which tend to be light-hearted and harmless, Mizzy’s pranks were either unethical or outright illegal. Some of his most well-known pranks included breaking and entering someone’s house in the middle of the day, stealing an elderly lady’s dog while she was sitting on a park bench, and harassing Orthodox Jews. As you might expect, a few of his videos actually did go viral. Mizzy frequently bragged about how quickly his following was growing, and was constantly talking about his plans for the next viral video. Of course, this meant trying to one-up himself with every upload, resulting in progressively worse pranks. Nobody was surprised when Mizzy got arrested; he was also interviewed on at least one TV show after being bailed out, and was very poorly received.

What’s the point of this story? It illustrates how easily the world of TikTok can affect the real world. If you genuinely don’t care what people think about you, then you’ll have a lot more leeway for generating controversy. However, there are still limits to this strategy – specifically, legal limits.

Why you should still consider being controversial on TikTok

The good news is that you can still stir up controversy on TikTok without ruining your reputation, much less getting arrested. This approach may not be suitable for everything you upload, but it can certainly help you get more views and comments on certain videos. In most cases, a good limit to stick with is making sure that nobody is getting hurt. As long as that condition is being met, your controversies will likely come out ahead in your cost-benefit analysis.

Maybe it’s time for you to get controversial

As described above, being controversial simply gets more attention, and succeeding on TikTok is all about attention. This helps grow your following, encourages TikTok’s algorithm to promote your video, and keeps your current followers entertained. If you want an easy way to get more views on your TikTok videos, coming up with something controversial might be the way to go.