My Problem With the Fast Company Influence Project

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The latest social media meme to roll around is Fast Company’s Influence Project and I’m going to take the role of pissy curmudgeon on this one.

Fast Company wants to find out who the most influential people online are right now. In order to figure this out, they’ve devised the following measurement criteria:

1. The number of people who directly click on your unique URL link. This is the primary measure of your influence, pure and simple.

2. You will receive partial “credit” for subsequent clicks generated by those who register as a result of your URL. In other words, anyone who comes to the site through your link and registers for their own account will be spreading your influence while they spread theirs. That way, you get some benefit from influencing people who are influential themselves. We will give a diminishing, fractional credit (1/2, ¼, 1/8 etc ) for clicks generated up to six degrees away from your original link.

So let me get this straight. An individual’s measure of influence is how much they can bait their peers, friends, and followers to click a link? Anyone else think this sounds more like a popularity contest rather than a measure of influence?

And when it comes to measurement, here’s yet another dubious claim to measuring something humanistic using only a quantitative scale (and a rather paltry scale at that). Fast Company, if you really want to understand online influence, slick graphics (in Flash!) and linkbaiting isn’t going to cut it. Start asking WHY individuals gain, maintain, and utilize influence and then maybe I’ll take your little parlor trick seriously.

Or am I wrong?

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Chris Bailey
Marketing and Customer Experience Designer at Bailey WorkPlay. Chris's extensive experience in marketing, consumer behavior, social science, communications, and social media helps nearly any type of business connect with its customers.

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