How Influential Is the Influence Project?

How Influential Is the Influence Project?


Influence–it’s what we all want. It’s why we hire actors, sports figures, and other celebrities to endorse products and services. If someone with influence recommends something, people will respond.

Plus, let’s face it. Those television and radio endorsements by famous folk don’t come cheap. Those stars are usually getting paid. Influence is also worth money. Since influence is so valuable, there must be a way to measure and study it, right?

Enter the Influence Project from Fast Company.

Basically, the Influence Project assigns each person a unique link that they are responsible for promoting. To measure influence, the site tracks how many times each unique link is clicked. (You can read about the measurement method for yourself.) At the end of the project, the most influential people will be profiled on the Fast Company site.

Whether or not you agree with the premise of the Influence Project, Fast Company has proved one thing–they can influence others.

Though the project has only been running for just over a week, it has already spawned a number of posts on other blogs (many of them critical). Here is some of what the Internet says about the Influence Project:

  • From Courtney Boyd Myers at The Huffington Post, Fast Company’s Influence Project Is About to Burst Every “Social Media Guru’s” Bubble
  • From Danny Brown, People, Numbers and the Fast Company Influence Project
  • From Michael Arrington at TechCrunch, Fast Company Creatively Combines Link Baiting With A Pyramid Scheme
  • From Paloma Vazquez at psfk, The Influence Project
  • From Charlie at This is going to be Big…, Fast Company’s Influence Project and Reputation Racketeering

And, I could list many more.

Of course, all of the criticism is valid. This is not a very scientifically designed study. All of the participants are self-selected. I suspect that most people with true influence will be too busy to take part, which leaves mostly those who are curious or hopeful about their own influence.

The study also fails to take into consideration that there are various types of influence that a person can have. For example, my accountant is very influential (for me and for his other clients) when it comes to giving tax advice. I’ve learned that he pretty much knows his stuff and I’d better do as he says. However, if he were to give me dietary advice, I’d ignore that (I go to my doctor for that sort of thing), he is no influence with me in that area.

With all its flaws, I do find the project (which is really little more than an attempt to engage Fast Company’s audience) mildly interesting. Judging from the number of folks who seem to be participating, I’m not the only one.

What do you think of this project? Are you taking part? Share your thoughts in the comments.

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