Peddling Social Influence

by Jay Deragon on 01/21/2011

It is becoming apparent that the “popular” social profiles are gathering followers and using their popularity to peddle influence.

Influence peddling is the practice of using one’s influence  or connections with persons in authority to obtain favors or preferential treatment for another, usually in return for payment. Also called traffic of influence or trading in influence .

Brands and merchants seem to be chasing the “popular” social profile’s and enticing them with money for an affiliation to their audience. Whether it be placing ad’s on their blogs, writing a story on behalf of the brand or providing pictures or video’s in return for money —influence trading is now the norm among the social media aristocrats.

The Influence of Money

Money has a significant influence over human behavior. Everyone needs money to provide the basic human needs. However our needs change and our appetites increase as we pursue “wants and desires”. People get jobs so they can support their family and their lifestyle. The employer then has influence over the employee. Buck the system, challenge the boss or break the rules and the power of money becomes the tool of influence to force human behavior to comply.  People will give up principles, relationships and commitments for money.  It is all part of the “selfish” motivation to get something in trade for something else and many times at cost to our soul and ultimately our humanity.

It is interesting to see how the motivation for money is playing out in all things social and the reactions from the human network.  The commercialization of all things social is influencing what the word social means and the use of the term to leverage technology for the purposes of interacting more efficiently with the human network. The word “social” implies living together or enjoying life in communities or organized groups. The human network is drawn to enjoying life in communities or organized groups and the historical currency of choice amongst social groups was value exchanged without money or if you will social currency.

In no way am I suggesting that people and organizations should not look for opportunities to earn a living or increase existing revenue from all things social however I am suggesting that the motivation and means of creating economic returns from use of social ought to be examined. Otherwise the real value of all things social just become yet another way to commercialize human intents.  The commercialization of human intent changes the intent to chase money using whatever means necessary. This includes peddling influence for money rather than using influence to create real human value.  Consider the difference.

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