Back in April, New York Magazine published a pretty shocking interview.
It was with former Reddit product head Dan McComas, and in it he admitted:
I fundamentally believe that my time at Reddit made the world a worse place.”
Take a moment to let that admission sink in.
In the piece, recently given new light as part of a series called ‘The Internet Apologises’, McComas lifted the lid on some of the creepy-to-scary stuff that went on (and is still going on) behind the scenes at Reddit.
He let fly at Facebook and Twitter too, about how those companies have also put money first – “growth at all costs” – and the betterment of society later.
I’m not trying to be Captain Bringdown here, but there’s some pretty sleazy stuff going on in marketing these days.
Now, before anyone reaches for the word ‘libtard’…
(Guilty as charged btw…)
Yes I realise I work in marketing, and that it’s essentially my job to help my clients sell more stuff.
But that’s not the be-all and end-all of the kind of businesses I work with, or the kind that you and I run…
I’m fairly sure nobody from FB or Twitter, Reddit, Amazon, Google or any of the other corporate behemoths recently in the spotlight for various, um, high-jinks, are on my email list or would for even a second consider working with me.
I’m not a fit for those companies, and I’m fine with that.
(Literally the day I wrote this post, another story broke alleging Fakebook’s mass-scale ‘massaging of numbers’ around video’s effectiveness on their platform, to get advertisers to spend big on videos that had very little influence on their audience.
If true, that’s downright crooked.
And I think we’re gonna hear A LOT more about this in future…)
But what struck me most about the McComas quote up top was what he said next:
…that sucks, and it sucks to have to say that about myself.”
No amount of money or success can fix that for him now.
There is a human cost to everything, and someone feeling terrible about the work they put out into the world is a pretty big price to pay for more $$$.
Imagine feeling like that about the work you do. It sounds awful.
Ok, the good news:
Right now it feels like we’re in a pretty significant time for business and marketing, with an opportunity for the good folks – people like us – to take a stand…
Companies are beginning to be held accountable for some of the rotten things they’ve been doing in the name of mo’ moolah.
And the size of the backlash and the number of voices in opposition shows that the value of doing good business is still high.
Basically, the ‘upside’ of all the broken promises and shattered trust (I know, eternal optimist alert!) is this:
People are on the lookout for honest, ethical businesses they can spend money with to get what they need.
And despite the mess that’s been made by the greedy bros in the Valley and elsewhere, that’s good for you.
Because when you’re surrounded by dirt, being clean means you stand out…
Now, I’m not saying your industry, niche or market is as tarnished or seedy as the likes of FB and Reddit etc…
But nobody exists in a bubble.
We all hear the stories, however they’re told and from whatever POV …
It can wear us down, and impact how we view the world.
So whatever you’re selling, your prospect is now more aware than ever – thanks to the tail-eating monster itself, the good ol interwebz – of the potential pitfalls and horrors of the business world.
Big companies are trusted less and less. Small is beautiful again.
Use that to your advantage:
If you’re a solopreneur, be an “I” in your copy and messaging, not a fake “we”.
There are people out there in your audience who give a damn about more than just size, or whether you have staff and an office…
Your personality, unique skills, and HOW you do business (not just how much) matter to the guy who’s considering hiring you…
…and they matter to the girl who’s on the verge of opening her wallet to buy your product, if only you could demonstrate why she can trust you.
Here’s Dan McComas on his time at Reddit again:
The incentive structure is simply growth at all costs.
There was never, in any board meeting that I have ever attended, a conversation about the users, about things that were going on that were bad, about potential dangers, about decisions that might affect potential dangers.
There was never a conversation about that stuff.”
It’s like something out of a movie. The caricatures of greedy businessmen come to leering, sweaty life.
Luckily, that’s a problem that should never affect your business or mine, because we play smaller (not small) and we play fair…
We won’t get blinded by “growth at all costs” because we’re playing the long game…
We need customers and clients tomorrow just like we need them today. So why burn their trust for a fast buck?
It’s fine to sell. But you don’t have to do it the same way as the bros who got caught with their pants down.
That’s what Selling Unique is all about:
Finding your own way, your own process, your own vibration to put out into the world through your messaging…
(I know, I said vibration. I just spent a week in Barcelona working in the early autumn sunshine and I’m still on a bit of a hippy holiday trip. SUE ME)
…reject the sleazy stuff and show how you’re doing it.
Talk about it, write about it, create products that help others fight it…
You don’t ever want to be in a position where you look back and think “I fundamentally believe my work made the world a worse place.”
I believe in you. Others will too.
Keep on keepin’ on.