I’d forgotten about Fast Company’s Influence Project until the tweets and emails started arriving last week, just after the November issue hit the streets.
“Congratulations! Your photo is in the third row of The Influencer Project!” a friend wrote.
I’d completely forgotten about the experiment, which started July 1, to identify the most influential person online.
I first learned about it from social media consultant Mari Smith, who emailed me and thousands of others on her list, asking us to click on a link, sign up, and then pass the link along to our followers and encourage them to do the same.
Each participant received a unique URL. Every time somebody clicked on Mari’s, she got credit. If those clickers also decided to sign up as a participant, she received partial credit for any clicks they obtained. She also received credit for all of my followers who clicked and signed up under me. Sort of like a pyramid scheme.
Fast Company said everyone who participated would have their photos printed in the November issue. I checked periodically to see how I ranked, but became so frustrated with the slow load times, that I quickly forgot about it.
Almost from the start, Fast Company was chastised by bloggers who said the contest,a link-bait gimmick, did nothing more than turn people into digital guinea pigs and confused ego with influence.
So there I am, ranked #70 out of the 32,955 people who participated (Mari is #13) . The #1 slot goes to Jeremy Schoemaker, a blogger and entrepreneur. But to think I’m the #70th most influential person online—because I wrote about it in my ezine and sent a tweet or two—is absurb. My definition of true influence is the ability to persuade people to take action for the common good.
I’m not writing a press release, or using “as seen in Fast Company” in my email signature, or including the magazine’s cover in my online press room (if you’re part of the project, you shouldn’t either). I’ll share it with my Facebook Fans and link to this post.
The Influence Project was fun for a day or two—nothing more—only because I was curious about how they’d fit everyone’s photos into the magazine. Except for the several dozen photos of people who are recognizable, the remainder of the four-page foldout looks like the crowd at a football stadium while you’re watching TV.