Keeping Up with the Kardashians

Heavy Sigh

Last month, Brandi and I sat down to go over what I’ll be writing about on a weekly basis for my blogs. Before we laid out a content plan, I wanted to start off by hearing what people had found most interesting in the past. So she did some digging into analytics to see what our most popular posts have been since 2014.

Here are examples of what turned up most often in her search:

  1. Three Reasons Companies Are Not Getting Funding
  2. How to Raise Money the New Way
  3. Is Crowdfunding Right for You?
  4. How Accelerators Get Your Company Funded
  5. Befriend Your Local Angel Investors

And frankly, I got pretty discouraged. And even a little mad.

You’ll see there’s an obvious, common theme here: They’re all focused on money.
Getting money.
Raising money.
Keeping money.

And, the other surprising—but not really—kind of content that gets the most clicks in my newsletters and blog posts? “Gossip” or celebrity news. As of my writing this blog, the top-trending article on Apple News is, “I’m Married to a Plastic Surgeon. This Is What It’s Like.” (See? You probably clicked that.)

Serious sigh.

I’m not trying to shame anyone here; I’m just as complicit in this kind of content clicking. But it makes us pretty bummed about what we know will drive the most traffic to our content.

Dual Dilemmas

Then, flash forward to last week, when Brandi sent me the following text:

“Just a heads-up. We’re being forced to make these really difficult decisions right now around running a business and having to use social media. Like, we’re handcuffed to social media in order to run our businesses, but social media is directly affecting our national and international climate right now. I’m sitting here pissed at Facebook and I don’t want to post today—or ever—but it’s directly tied to my goals, which are directly tied to our team’s financial payback.”

She was referring to the fact that we’ve tied some of our team bonuses to the work we’re doing on social media because I want to make sure we have a presence there and are writing increasingly relevant content.

So you see two things happening here, giving both me and Brandi some serious heartburn:

  • Evidence tells us we should be writing mostly about money and provocative or sensational topics.
  • And, expectations tell us we should be engaging on mediums we don’t really want to be on.

Similar Issues

In a bold move last week, Elon Musk deleted his SpaceX and Tesla Facebook pages. Deleted them completely. It’s one more piece of evidence signaling a potential shift away from our culture’s reliance on Facebook. But it’s still very counter-cultural to completely delete your company’s entire Facebook presence, and there’s no telling now if the #deletefacebook movement will make a significant dent in how we’re all engaging in the medium at large.

Still, all of this made me think about our relationship with social media. For a very long time, we’ve struggled with whether or not social media suits us as a company. GAN is so relational. So intentional. But we’ve felt forced to write things on Twitter and Facebook because that’s what we’re told we’re supposed to do to engage our audience. Actually, it’s what we’re told we’re supposed to do because we’re a business, period. Marketing ROI, after all, more often measures quantity over quality. And on those platforms, we’re supposed to write about how startups can close their next funding round because that’s what people are actually going to read. Click, click, click.

So when Brandi brought up everything going on with social media, we talked about what I should write this week. Was it, “How to Build the Best Team That Works for You (and Your Investors),” or share this topic you’re reading about now—our honest thoughts about engaging online in the ways we feel we “have to”? The feedback from her:

“The media thing is super relevant right now because FB is getting slaughtered (and should be) for its role in massive privacy leaks and its ties to Russia’s interference in elections. Meanwhile, we still have to use it every day. But, VC stuff is very clickable for startups… 

Your call.”

Big Questions

As you can tell, all of this has caused us to ask ourselves some big questions: Do we write the content we’re “supposed” to write and use certain mediums because it’s not only expected of our industry but also gets the most clicks? Do we engage in something that’s counter to our values in multiple ways, simply because it’s expected of us? Or, do we actively disengage and choose only the channels that are more in line with our values as a company (and as people) and write about the things we think are important, believing that others will eventually gain interest as our content becomes increasingly worthy of others’ attention over time?

We believe in and love the idea of being different. Of going against what everyone else in the business world does, if and when it makes sense for us. Not because we’re rebels. But because we want to be as authentic to who we are as possible. So that means how we communicate will often be different.

So, you’ll—of course—see us talk about accelerators, and corporates, and getting funding and revenue for your startup. Because, after all, we’re most interested in helping startups create and grow wherever they are, and funding is certainly a big piece of that. But you’ll also see us talk about things that we believe matter. We’ll continue to write about what’s true and important to us. We’ll engage in things we think are important to speak about. Like how to have a company culture where people feel loved and thrive as humans. Or where our clients know how much we care about them as humans first, and customers second. And we’ll continue to ask ourselves tough questions about how we engage on the mediums that feel most authentic to us.

A Closing Plea

We hope you’ll do the same. Because you probably deeply care about your company culture. You probably care about taking care of yourself. You probably care about loving your clients well. So, as you go about your work, I hope you take the time—like we’ve done—to stop and ask, “Do I write what I want to write about, or should I write about what’s going to get the most clicks?”

The point is, you have a choice.

Just like your shopping habits translate to what you see on the shelves at grocery stores, you can show marketers what kind of content matters to you. You can either continue to click on the stuff that’s solely focused on money or gossip or any number of things that are, indeed, part of life, but often have you chasing after shiny objects or hollow goals. Or, you can start to turn the tide and choose to engage with content and platforms that add real substance to your work or relationships.

Your call.