These influencers travel in ‘Fast Company’

The mystery of online influence is a big nut to crack for social scientists and marketers. Fast Company has launched a project to accomplish that very mission, with help from digital agency Mekanism. The Influence Project challenges people to measure their influence. Here's the deal: your photo will appear in an issue of Fast Company with the size determined by how many people you con—er, influence—into clicking on a link back to the project site. It's actually ingenious, since it plays squarely into digital narcissism and the multi-level marketing aspects of social media. My guess is it will yield boatloads of traffic for Fast Company. The downside: it's highly dubious such an exercise will suss out true influencers, and Twitter users will need to endure post after post of would-be influencers flogging the marketing gimmicks.