Fast Company’s ‘Experiment’ Has Nothing to Do With Influence

Do you think you have the clout, the pizazz, the intestinal fortitude to be the most influential person online? Can you generate more clicks than your friends in your social network? Well that’s what Fast Company aims to find out, but sadly, their Influence Project benefits no one except, well…Fast Company.

For this so-called contest, you have to give FC a picture of yourself. In return they give you a unique link to their website, which you have to get all your friends online to click on. The more hits you generate, the bigger your picture gets in the collage of others. The winner will have their giant mug in the November issue of Fast Company in a photo spread. Oh, and the best part about this whole thing? You get extra influence if people sign up to Fast Company after clicking on your link. Isn’t that great?

Personally, I think this is a genius way of getting traffic to your website, but it really doesn’t prove anything. What it does do is boost Fast Company’s web traffic to the point where it can turn to its advertisers and charge more money. They claim that it’s an experiment, and not sponsored by anyone, although they’d “be happy to have one.” Right. Yet, if it is an experiment, it’s not a very good one, and here’s why.

I’ve seen Justin Bieber rocket to the top of Google Trends more than once these past couple of weeks, and for the most absurd things. Everything from he’s lost a testicle to he’s dead, and hates Koreans. Come now, do you really think those things got there by accident? No, places like 4Chan and eBaumsWorld used their hacking skills and influence to propel Bieber to the top with outrageous claims. What is stopping them from doing the same with this Fast Company experiment? They could nominate, say, Prince, and very easily make him the most influential person online. Which is funny since he thinks the Internet is over.

Fast Company even goes so far as to say that they won’t stop these things from happening, therefore admitting its flaws. What the heck? Then why bother masking it under an ‘influence’ experiment, when you know damn well that it has nothing to do with influence, and is all about who can cheat the most? Come on, guys. You’re not fooling anyone here. Okay, maybe a few people, but not me.

Regardless of all of this, I stand behind my claim that it is a genius way to generate traffic to the Fast Company website. It’s like reverse-spamming. Instead of FC sending you crap, they’re getting you to come to them with yours. Kind of makes you wish you thought of it, doesn’t it? Well played, Fast Company. Well played.

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