Technology is cool. I love seeing marketing campaigns like Fast Company’s “Influence Project” use it creatively. What I don’t like seeing is a campaign that takes a cool idea and misses the mark in terms of understanding the fundamentals of human motivation and drive. I do not agree with Rohit Bhargava’s assessment that this is a“brilliantly conceived marketing campaign”.
Essentially, you get a link and the more times people click on the link, the bigger your photo shows up in their influence graph. Now, the graph looks pretty cool, but let’s break down this concept for the end user (the clicker):
1.) I click link.
2.) I make your picture bigger for other Fast Company readers to see.
As someone who loves using technology to make marketing campaigns more interesting, I am not quite sure what the end goal is here. Do people really think true influencers will actually value having their photo show up bigger on Fast Company? Is the Dalai Lama keen on showing you that he has more clout than you? Can you see Alan Greenspan hovering over his computer, furiously spreading his link around to ensure that Bill Clinton does not beat him on the influence graph?
Influence is something we earn by gaining expertise and by executing on it. It’s also something we can waste if we get too carried away in our own egos. I don’t question that influential people could certainly “win” this contest, I am just not quite sure they would actually care to. It is self-promotion for self-promotion’s sake and reminds me of those weird programs where at-risk kids go door to door and practice their speaking skills for money. Couldn’t they just spend that time selling something? Raising money for charity? Anything?
So I have to agree with Amber Naslund’s assessment. The graph is a cool idea, but I wish Fast Company appealed to my desire to be helpful rather than my desire to be known.