The B.S. Meter Businesses Must Overcome


You probably saw Casey Neistat snowboarding through the streets of New York this past weekend. He’s a YouTuber (his choice of title) who sometimes does videos for brands or influencer marketing. He knows that if he tried to make ads that were beautiful and perfect, it wouldn’t work and his fans would know.

“I’m not any of those things,” he said during a talk last week organized by Andreessen Horowitz and hosted by Medium.

He says he recently turned down a six-figure offer because it didn’t fit his brand, and while a payday that size is tempting, it would put at risk a foundation of trust his viewers come to him for.

Neistat believes his work routinely pulls in millions of views because he’s transparent with his audience. His audience of mostly teenage boys know when they’re being peddled a product.

“Viewers have bullshit sensors that are beyond any of our understanding. Their bullshit sensors are so, so, so sensitive, so hypersensitive to the slightest scent of bullshit,” he said. “So you have to create content that will penetrate that.”

The B.S. meter is a subjective determination of what matters and deserves attention, a compass in a world full of clickbait, malware, limitless content, and constant advertising. The meter isn’t just a ruling factor for content providers like Neistat. Bullshit costs money.

Managers who employees find to be inauthentic have been shown to be a significant influence to a businesses’ bottom line. And, as NewCo noted last week, a majority of CEOs feel their businesses fail to communicate their purpose and values.

This goes beyond savvy. It’s about trust. Trust is at the center of personal relationships. As media and businesses splinter, as personalization and a world of niches become possible, it matters even more.

Neistat understands the value of his brand and what will help and hurt it.

If you control the supply chain, maybe you can get away with ignoring these things but the rest of us need to mind the bull. People can smell it and will try to avoid it.

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Photo Credit: Khari Johnson

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