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Fast Company Begins Search for Most Influential Person Online – But is That What They'll Get?

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“Influence” is a favorite buzzword for social media personalities. Online influencers can convince us to buy a product or give to a favorite charity, and though I believe that influence is in the eye of the beholder, I also feel that there’s no denying that the social media world yields some extremely influential people.

Fast Company is looking to find the most influential people online. Their method of measuring influence is through links. Each person who signs up, gets a link. After that, they will monitor each link to see who influenced the most people to click on their links. They will also see how many people who were influenced to sign up via a link, will influence others to sign up, also indirectly leading to the original person’s influence.

From the site:

“Influence is not only about having the most friends or followers. Real influence is about being able to affect the behavior of those you interact with, to get others in your social network to act on a suggestion or recommendation. When you post a link or recommend a site, how many people actually bother to check it out? And what’s the likelihood of those people then forwarding it on? How far does your influence spread? This is the type of influence we’re looking for.”

Here’s where I see problems though. As someone who has been in enough “Top Blogger” contests to know that sometimes it’s a matter of being popular – which is a whole different story. Will the Fast Company project be just another online popularity contest? Can popular people be influential? Can unpopular people be influential?

Personally, what I feel is even more important than knowing a person followed a link, is knowing WHY a person followed a link. Curiosity? They want to support a friend? Everyone else is doing it? They believe in the click? For me, it’s all ego. I’m intrigued. I want to know if I will send anyone to sign up. Certainly I won’t be considered a top influence, but will I be at the very bottom of the barrel?

The Fast Company Influential Person contest runs through August 15th and it’ll be interesting to see how it all pans out. Will the winner be a household name, or someone we know little about?

This is my link to the Fast Company project. Did I influence you to check it out and perhaps sign up? If so, why? If I didn’t inspire you to take action, please let me know that as well.

It’s not enough to measure a person’s reach. If we truly want to know why influence matters, we have to know why people react to particular people, while others, who link to the same thing sit ignored. What causes you to take action?

Deb Ng is the Conference Director for BlogWorld and blogs about social media and blogging at Kommein. Feel free to follow her on Twitter @debng.


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