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>I'm going to take the high road because the low road is so crowded - Mia Farrow

Let me tell you a little story…

Once upon a time, when I was a wet behind the ears twenty something who had done nothing more than work as a graphic designer for a few companies, had absolutely zero business or marketing experience – I decided that I wanted more from my career financially, so I made the move, left my last place of employ and began working for myself. Design and print was to be my key focus and with the enthusiasm of a race horse waiting for the gates to open, I began my new adventure. It was early into this undertaking that I decided to do a bit of hands on marketing with a slightly creative angle. I had printed and distributed promotional flyers before and had relative success with them, but this time I wanted to do something different. To each of the 5000 flyers that were produced – I sat and stapled a wrapped red lollipop. My brand colours were red and black and I thought this would be a fun way to get people’s attention when handing them out. The idea was to rally a team of us, dressed in promo merchandise and to hit the robots (traffic lights for those of you that are not South African).

I can remember the excitement that I felt as we headed out that morning. With fervour over flowing we began handing out the lollipop embellished flyers to people in their cars. As the morning unfolded and people watched us as we went about our little promo stunt – somewhat of a frenzy began to grow. People noticed the lollipop’s attached to the flyers and as the cars came driving past us they could not grab the little pieces of paper from us fast enough – it really did get crazy and we got rid of the 5000 flyers in no time, which was fantastic as people are normally quite reluctant to receive promotional flyers through their car windows. I was ecstatic! The morning had been a HUGE success… or so I thought, until the “wait” for feedback bites dragged from hours into days without a single enquiry. I knew what sort of rebate I had received in the past for specific volumes of “traditional flyers” – devoid lollipops, so was initially quite perplexed and needless to say disappointed at the financial investment put into the exercise and its concluded loss.

***Yes, there is a moral to this story…***

What I failed to realise at the time due to lack of experience and knowledge in the field, was something as obvious as the fundamental nature of human beings. Much like crows are attracted to shiny objects, people love free stuff, bargains and pretty much anything that sells itself to them well enough – whether legitimate or not and often irrespective of ethics. My beautifully designed flyers offering genuinely great deals and excellent customer service to each and every one of those recipients was completely overshadowed by a lollipop that they would have paid a few cents for at a corner café. I have no doubt that 99% of the people we gave those flyers to, ripped the attached piece of paper off, threw it onto the car seat and proceeded to unwrap and enjoy the free cherry lollipop which they had received.

***I learnt a very valuable lesson that day…***

Cheap stunts and juicy carrots have absolutely no staying power in the world of business and if I was going to build a brand and reputation that people wouldn’t forget it was not going to be through the enticement of lollipops. I wanted to build something that held REAL long term value! I did not want my business to become known for "the free toy" that comes with the meal - not the meal itself. (Not that either are worth mentioning in respect to that referenced brand that shall remain nameless, lol.)

In the months that followed that stint, I conceptualised and developed a printed promotional brochure in which people paid me to advertise their businesses. I was paid for the design work of their adverts within the product and for the advert too. Not only had I created a product of value for my customers, their businesses and the general public but I was making a profit off it simultaneously and my own business got advertised within it too. That product was host to 288 advertisers each run and was distributed monthly to 80 000 homes throughout the Western Cape.

I built my entire business and five star reputation through that product, 11 years of repeat customers continued to make use of those services and more because I had introduced them to a product which had helped to build their own businesses as well as offering a level of service which made them truly feel like a valued individual instead of a dispensable item on a shelf. – Through our dealings, relationships of respect and loyalty were formed and not a single lollipop was needed… ok, in honesty – at one point we did have a massive jar of wrapped sweets on our counter top but guess what… people could not restrict themselves to taking one each and would grab handfuls at a time… so we got rid of the sweet jar and replaced it with hundreds of free custom designed little cards which had motivational and inspirational quotes on the one side - and then our contact details on the reverse. Those little cards as seemingly insignificant as they appeared, were positively highlighted by our clients frequently. A valued and lasting impression, not a sweet which was forgotten about the second it had dissolved. I digress, but...

***You starting to catch my drift?…***

Well if not, let me make it relevant for you. A little while ago Steem underwent HF21/22 and one of the positive results which came from this was the squashing of bid bot abuse – something that all the “authentic” individuals of the network were thrilled to witness. Then, to add cream to the jam and scone – the bid bot owners were somewhat “forced” to start manually curating content and with downvoting having been made available it was in their interest to ensure that they were supporting content which actually warranted the rewards given. Suddenly, the truly passionate and tireless Steemians who had stuck it out through thick and thin, good and bad – were getting some decent rewards and recognition for their content… and the bid bots almost managed to hoodwink everyone into thinking that they actually had pure intentions and gave a damn about the efforts placed into and the quality and originality of the content which they were supporting.

That was of course, until communities arrived… and the reality of the situation set in about as quick (and often missed) as a flame flash in a pan! Within days, hours probably – bid bot owners set up communities of their own under the guise of “supporting Steems great content creators”… they dangled the carrot, people flooded through the gates, forgot their ethics at the door, fumbled over each other to get to the prize and now the chaos, division, inequality and abuse has begun once again.

>“Just because something isn't a lie does not mean that it isn't deceptive - A liar knows that he is a liar, but one who speaks mere portions of truth in order to deceive is a craftsman of destruction.”- Criss Jami

I am not saying that bid bot owners do not have the right to create their own communities, but what I am pointing out is that if their intentions lay with the best interests of Steem and it’s people at heart then surely it would have made a lot more sense for them to pay support visits to all the newly formed communities which they KNEW were coming instead of creating a pool of conflict among Steemians who belong to such communities - as they now stand feeling torn between yielding to their virtually inherent human trait of “gain” from the potentially massive upvote carrot dangled in front of their faces versus the loyalty they feel for the community or communities with which they have well established and valued ties.

***but those people can simply cross post…***

Oh, and cross post they shall – not once or twice per post but rather by the dozen, because... "hey, look! - free lollipops!" - This is a topic for another day, and a whole new demon entirely (in my opinion) but it has close ties to the dark place in which these "community carrots" could potentially lead if people don't stick to their moral guns... which I think we all know - for the most part... they won't - sadly.

***getting back to my point…***

So not only have these bid bots formed communities which collectively hold voting power with which few can compete - through that they are "inadvertently" (cough) encouraging division among smaller communities and their support. In addition to this – they are once again giving their grossly large support to a lot of content which is nothing short of shit compared to some of the stuff lying unseen in some community somewhere...

So - those that refuse to jump onto their lollipop parade sit once again creating fantastic content that will never see the light of day unless somebody decides to specifically search the community they chose to publish it to, or they happen to scroll to their obscure position which is 75th-ish down the list of communities because the bid bot owned ones now dominate the handful of trending communities and have enticed half the Steem population to support their endeavors built on nothing more than foundations of greed.

***Starting to sound very familiar isn’t it…***

A little word to the wise… all that glitters is not gold and “flashes in the pan” are exactly that. Only a couple of days in, and these feeds are already riddled with rubbish and closely resemble the familiar “new” and “trending” feeds of the “old bid bot ruled” Steem. This will only get worse because none of them care enough to adequately moderate the flood gates which they have just opened. Soon enough the upvote values will diminish because there will simply be too many people to accommodate - and mark my words, they do not care – because their pockets will be well lined, compliments of all the blindsided support.

***So what happens then…***

The lollipops run short of satisfying the masses and people once again start exploring alternative avenues? People go tail between legs back to the communities which had been there to support them with a lot more than just upvotes all along? Seems a likely but unfortunate and unnecessary road traveled in my opinion and my advice to everyone reading this is you are mindful of how you choose to approach and/or respond to what is actually happening right in front of your eyes.

When it comes down to the crux of the matter, I suppose individuals will have to ask themselves what it is that matters to them most? - Nurturing and empowering the "authentic" aspects of the platform or lining the pockets of those that probably don't even read the content which you pour your passions and energies into on a daily basis, simply because you make a quick buck off it... for now.

***You also have to beg the question… What was the point of having created communities to "define content" in the first place, if the majority of people *(from all genres - including the spammy crap)* are going to be posting to one or two communities that dominate because they offer something that most of the others can’t.***

Once again you end up with a muddled mess, offering nothing different to what we had before on the generic Steem feed - and smaller communities will sit with endless feeds of cross-posted spammy looking "links" and not a whole lot more. The reality is... nothing changes if nothing changes... and the way I see it, not a whole lot is changing in the grand scheme of things... I think that those who are able to see the bigger picture and read between the lines will recognise this - but then again, all of this is simply my own thought processing and opinion. You don't have to like it or agree with it, but on the flip side of respect... I am entitled to it, much like what is in the process of unfolding is seemingly acceptable too.

I know where I stand on all of this - I refuse to give in to lollipops and carrots at the expense of what I believe is right and true... I would rather enjoy the company of those who had the strength of character and conviction to prioritise the value of what they found in that little place which resides 75th-ish down the line - continuing to build it upon a foundation comprised of the good stuff - the stuff that really matters... honesty, integrity, transparent intent and genuine connections - no matter how small it remains or grand it grows over time.

>“It's in those quiet little towns, at the edge of the world, that you will find the salt of the earth people who make you feel right at home.” - Aaron Lauritsen


*Until next time...
Much Love from Cape Town, South Africa xxx

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*A community of individuals who are dedicated to producing quality content
which adds value to the Steem network and beyond.*



Connecting the people of #STEEM across South Africa. #steemsa




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