Paragliding Over Waimanalo Bay

This is a guest post by Geoff Livingston.

The ongoing conversation about the ills of the A-List produces the opposite effect than desired. Instead of creating a correction, it builds a stratosphere of influence, and creates a perception of unworthiness for the rest of the social web. This demeans the value of everyone else — literally everyone who is not a top ranked “A-Lister,” a crying shame consider that the rest of the population has as much of a chance of becoming truly useful and influential.

In some ways the “A-List” conversation is fostered by leaderboard systems of top bloggers (Ad Age 150, Technorati) and influencers (Klout, Empire Avenue). It is perpetuated by insider chatter and a corresponding attitude of eliteness from the top tier (perceived or real). This type of influence is popularity driven.

Welcome to the Fifth Estate (yes, I just shamelessly pimped my new book) concludes with a discussion about influence over the long-term. Here’s the truth about influence: It is highly subjective, and shifts with the topic, time, situation and community. Further, leaderboard influencers are not likely to create groundswells of actions. Usually, this type of influencer is a content creator or social network personality — the dog that barks the loudest. When it comes to real action, most of them can’t bite.

Influence and Individualism

Twenty years ago, the equivalent would be to dub a TV star as extremely powerful. Can you imagine Donald Trump winning the presidency of the United States based on the popularity of his TV show, “The Apprentice?” As bad of a job that our elected officials do, indoctrinating a media personality into the profession of governance would likely create much more damage than reform.

That’s why the conversation about the A-List seems fruitless and harmful. It invests time and gives influence to people who can’t accomplish things. Further, the cost of personal equity and a lesser perception of position is harmful. That makes no sense. We should be focusing on moving the needle of progress forward. The reality is that every single person has an opportunity to become influential with their community of interest.

Real influencers are awarded their position for doing great things. They are activists like Stacey Monk, or builders of new technologies such as Anil Dash. They provide real new perspectives to online media like analytics whiz Avinash Kaushik or change the business forever with new thought, like Charlene Li and her still noteworthy book, Groundswell.

These people actually do things. Their influence was a result of achievement. It may wane if they don’t continue doing great things, but in the end, this type of influence is admirable, things that people remember for decades.

Doesn’t it make more sense to talk about the noteworthy influencer instead of the narcissistic A-List? Aren’t the noteworthy successes the ones we aspire to emulate? Which can you learn from, who will make you and your efforts better?

Five Tips to Stop Supporting “A-Listers”

Ultimately, someone is only influential if they are given that influence by their community. If you don’t believe in the A-List’s influence, here are five ways to separate yourself from the conversation.

1) Don’t link to them. Linking above all else helps support their “top tier” positioning. Instead, link to people whose conversation challenges you and provokes the forward motion you are seeking.

2) Give up trying to converse with them. Why try to have a relationship with someone who is not there? Instead focus on those who do participate.

3) Don’t talk about them. Talking about them as unfit leaders still leaves them in a leadership position. This is leadership by perception. Move on, or if you do talk about them, do so in a peer-to-peer fashion. Everyone puts their pants on one leg at a time.

4) Unfollow and unsubscribe from them. If they and their behavior really upsets you, this is an act of self-preservation. Your online time will become exponentially more enjoyable.

5) Stop wasting your time on them. This above all is the most freeing of the tips. When you realize that this A-List conversation has become an energy suck, a waste of your time that is holding you back, you can reprioritize on something meaningful, for example, Danny’s 12 for 12K Challenge, or your own efforts for business, social good, or personal development.

This is mindful and good in its own right. Rather than fighting, you have moved on. Pursue new horizons.

What do you think about the continuing A-List conversation?

About the Author: Geoff Livingston is the co-founder of Zoetica, helping non-profits and socially responsible companies connect with their audience. He’s also the author of Welcome to the Fifth Estate and Now is Gone. You can read more on Geoff’s blog or connect with him on Twitter at @geoffliving.

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  1. says

    It’s a great thought that people would be able to follow through on the five tips Geoff suggests.

    However, given that social media appears to have become marketing’s domain by default, it won’t. Everyone is so scared they might need someone in the future, they don’t call them out. Or worse when they do, they do so in such a bad way it hurts them more than their target.

    No one complains when the A-listers write one, if you’re lucky, original post per week/month and spend the rest of the time flogging their latest e-book/exclusive forum/”new” site etc and relying on guest posts to keep their cash cows going.

    Seriously, has social media/blogging got itself into such a state that the core goal to “make it big” is to have an audience large enough to write your copy for you?

    Yeah, I’d rather spend my time more productively too.

    • says

      Nic, the reality is that most of the “A Listers” are running businesses now that rely upon their blogs as lead generation. They aren’t blogging to maintain their standing as a speaker or writer; rather, they have turned themselves into publishers of online magazines.

      That’s not such a terrible thing, is it? Yann Wenner didn’t pen every story in Rolling Stone, did he?

      The interesting thing is that these “A Listers” are, for the most part, blogging about … blogging. They ARE meta – to blog about blogging, to engage on social media channels about social media, all while selling their social media services to the social media folks who are learning about social media on social media channels.


      • says

        Thanks Jay, I appreciate that most A-listers have diversified away from their blog but still within the industry.

        I can see both sides of the giving content away then charging for it later argument. The fact that this is accepted shows that getting other people to maintain your blog while your A-lister hawks something else seems to be something many on the lower runs aspire to.

        Not so sure I agree with the online magazine analogy. Writing e-books with interviews from your peers about blogging/some degree of social media seems a good way to close the circle. You’d also hope online publishers might try subjects other than blogging/social media. Or that there was diversification and/or non-English speaking A-Listers.

        The problem with self-publication is that everyone can do it, now talent is even less of barrier to entry.

        If the irony overload doesn’t get you, is an interesting read in a ho, ho, ho you better not ignore them way.

      • says

        It is mind-numbing, and all too often it just turns into white noise.

        For many of these “A-listers”, it’s become more about page views and interaction has long since waved goodbye.

    • says

      The five tips are actions I took when I felt this way about certain “top” voices in the segment. It worked for me, and I wouldn’t suggest something that I hadn’t tried myself.

      On a larger note, I generally find comments that say can’t, won’t, etc. without the experience having tried as a general commitment to not succeed, or not endeavor to try something different. Influence and success online is perceived. In actuality, some of these folks are smokescreens, some are real. But you empower them, even with negativity. That’s my point.

      • says

        Thanks Geoff appreciate the explanation.

        Not sure if it was meant to be part of it but there appears to be something of a backlash against the A-listers going on atm.

  2. says

    Ah, yes. Actions speak louder than words, for both the A-lister, those who can truly affect change, and those who follow either, good argument. The problem with the dissent of silence though – it only works if the majority spends their attention appropriately.

    Still, I am 90% in agreement with this – the popular who are mistaken for influential only have power via that popularity. And the only way to take it is to look elsewhere, hence making them unpopular.

    The 10% shift I have is remaining silent when something unjust has taken place. Haven’t gained the strength to silently ignore things I think are bullshit. Yet.

    • says

      Oh, it gets easy. For example, I don’t talk about a couple of our top ten Ad Age folks anymore. I see it as a big waste of time. One of them just whines about being criticized, won’t change, and is beyond conversation. In fact, I think the negativity fuels him. So I changed the station, and won’t participate in public conversations about his blog anymore.

      • says

        True. Mentally the attempt is to liken it to a TV sabbatical. At first, it feels like you’re missing something. Eventually, you don’t notice a lacking at all. If you get bored, it’s not like there aren’t movies to watch.

        • says

          I think this topic has been on everyone’s mind, including mine. In many ways social media is losing its flesh and blood heart and it is being replaced with something mechanical lacking the passion and humaness.

  3. says

    It’s really interesting, Geoff, that I’m reading this on the very day I was considering a blog post, along the lines of:

    “Is it what you write, or is it who writes it?”

    As I wander around reading blog posts, there is no doubt that there’s a synchronicity of thoughts and topics swirling around, with many posts well written, with similar points of view, or topics that you might say: “Oh my gosh, I was thinking/writing about the exact same thing!”

    What makes one post get the adulation of many, whereas another, with very similar content, excellent writing and solid info is a lone voice in the dark?

    Is it because we’re drawn only to those with a “name” and reputation? Are we really that blinded by the “A-list” moniker, and too afraid to say the emperor is wearing no clothes?

    I love to read and interact with people who write well, give of themselves in words and content and take the time to respond thoughtfully.

    I like your post! It bodes well (at least for me) to search out and find those who may be given the moniker of “A List” but who remain humble, with feet planted firmly on the ground. I don’t want to read someone because they are “A list” (and I love your “words that need to be taken out back and shot like old yeller”…so good!) I want to read someone because they write compellingly, stimulate my thinking, challenge my perspective and inform, entertain and/or amuse (or all of the above!)

    Thanks for articulating what many of us probably think, especially when one is new to the game. Do I read it because of what is written, or do I read it because of who wrote it? Not necessarily mutually exclusive, but if I’m reading it to be part of the cool in-crowd, and commenting because I think it makes me part of the cool kids crowd…well, I’ll take a pass. Cheers! Kaarina

    • says

      Marketers love stars, we love shine. It’s no wonder this corner of the blogosphere is probably worse about this than others. At the same time we trust our peers, so it becomes hard for us to simply tune out voices, we are quick to agree, it takes a discerning eye. Thank you for your comment!

  4. says

    I’ve never understood the need to tell everyone who’s popular. Chances are, they already know. It’s more important, I think, to give the stage to those who people may not know about. That way, everybody benefits.

    There’s also the matter that building a social community is a lot more difficult than building popularity. People will follow popularity just because it’s popular, not because they want to do something with it. A community, on the other hand, tends to last.

  5. says

    While I love this post and the five tips, I think it’s important to discuss that what I perceive to be the A list may not be the same as your A list. Sure there are the top 10 AdAge bloggers who most consider to be the A list, but not a single one of those bloggers offers me value in my daily life. I have an A list of bloggers, business owners, and influencers who inspire me daily. Some of them are in the AdAge top 50, some of them have high Klout, but most of them do not have any social capital. The other problem is that our society creates these lists…and we’re always trying to aspire to the next list.

    For instance, I am in love with Sheryl Sandberg. I want to be her when I grow up. And guess what? She’s on every list that talks about influential women (it also includes Oprah). We do this even outside of the social space.

    I do the five things you list already with the people I don’t find inspiring. For everyone else (you, Danny, Mack, Ingrid, Falchetto, Sales Lion, etc) they may be seen as A list and I’m OK with that. Because they make me want to be a better person every day.

    • says

      One could argue that any of us that are ranked in the Ad Age 150 (and I mean the actual 150) may not have a completely objective view of this. That includes me, too. For example, you, Danny, Adam Singer, Beth Kanter, etc. are pretty tight for me right now, but some may see that us acting as elite. I believe we are accessible in ways that others aren’t, we listen in ways that others don’t.

      However, does that mean someone who is ranked at 400 is less influential? I was ranked at 400 no less than 8 months ago. I have been ranked as high as 90 on my prior blog. Today I am 117. I see none of it as mattering. What matters is the community, what matters is honoring the experiential growth, generating relationships and achieving goals together.

      What is disappointing about the A List I am referring too is they talked community, and created pedestals. The in essence violated trust for position, and thus, in my opinion, are no longer worthy of my attention. I took these five steps to remove myself from them.

      Since then I have seen a lot of folks voicing similar complaints. For all I know, I may be one of the A-Listers in their view that they are complaining about. Regardless, I see the actions as the right actions to address this angst, rather than placing people on pedestals that separate us, albeit negative ones.

      • says

        Great post and I took these five steps 4 months ago when I realized I was having conversations with myself.

        I think what really gets people like Michael Schechter and myself is the double faced talk about community and humanizing online relations.
        It’s more than disappointing it’s really a let down, especially when you are a new kid on the block like me.

        On the other side we can’t paint all the top 50 Adage A-listers with the same brush, Danny , Gini have really deserved their A-list status in my book. They constantly help and are active in their community.

        I agree with you Geoff, these are teh right actions and talking about them will only give them more credit.

        • says

          I haven’t quite been able to let go because these people gave me so much direction and valuable information when I first came in. There are also some gems that work their way in through the crap… that said the ratio is getting to the point where Geoff’s list seems tempting… Shame when people forget what they were saying all along…

    • says

      Gini – you left me off the list, can I get honorable mention for the best virtual high 5’s?

      Joking aside you make a good point about what your A-lists are. Quite some time ago I remember seeing a Tweet by Juliette Powell, she said something like (paraphrasing):

      “Don’t follow guru’s, you are the guru.”

      She’s got a point and it plays well with this post. Of course you are talking about value and if someone provides value to you why not support them even if you will not get anything in return. Didn’t they earn that spot?

      As always got me thinking you.


  6. says

    This whole conversation gives me the dizzies, really. But I had a related interesting conversation last week that is relevant here.

    I wrote a post on my blog lamenting that a lot of the folks on the perceived A-list spend a lot of time lamenting how crappy they have it online. A lot of people, when they talk to each other on Twitter, get a real air of “Ugh, gah, those people. Beh, meh, ick, ew.” You always get the feeling that they might be talking about you. It’s like when you’re at a party and someone standing near says, “Oh, what’s that smell?” You’re bound to check your armpits, ya know? :)

    Someone commented (and we also discussed it on Twitter) that there’s no such thing as an A-lister. It’s a false categorization of people. That’s the way it *should* be, but I’m not sure that’s true.

    However, and here’s where Social Media becomes an MC Escher print, folks who constantly lament and lambaste perceived A-listers are just as bad. If you spend a lot of time on Twitter or on your blog saying, “Ick, ew, a-listers,” then you’re doing the exact same thing.

    What I’d really like to see are 2 things, and they are somewhat related to your five points.

    1) If you have a lot of followers, subscribers, fans, whatever – use it for good. Don’t complain about the imbecilic masses. Don’t clique it up and only promote posts your friends have written. Make a concerted effort to introduce new people to all of those thousands of followers you have. I meet so many people every day who are on the verge of quitting this whole online thing because they just can’t seem to break through. Help them out (to your point of being productive).

    2) Rather than pay attention to who might have more “weight,” make sure you are doing your best to positively influence others. And by influence, I mean “make a difference for.”

    It’s true that a lot of people on those Ad Age lists or whatever aren’t living up to
    my goal #1, but a lot of other folks aren’t striving for my goal #2.

    In the end, i’d love to see less negativity, less holier than thou rhetoric from EVERYONE in the online world. If you have time to tweet about how bad your life is, your life probably isn’t all that bad. Accentuate the positive, folks.

    • says

      LOL, well said. It is an Upper Georgetown kind of problem. And people who whine about their community should get out. Seriously.

      What I found in the conversation was that I was wasting my time focusing on others that I don’t respect instead of using that energy on better actions. Changing my stance caused me to reprioritize and become more effective, in my opinion, towards achieving goals that have a deeper impact. Thanks for the comment, Margie.

  7. says

    Hi there. I want to understand… first of all, what, exactly “is” the A List? I thought it was my A List or Gini’s A List or Kaarina’s A List.

    I’m only 5 months into this WHOLE new world, but.. did I miss some golden A List? (I’m going to have to Google it, you know!)

    However, if I am right and it is “my” or “your” A List, you are wrong to make such a broad statement. The folks 95% of the ones I found 4-5 months ago, they have welcomed me, guided me, supported me and CORRECTED me.

    When I’ve needed help, at least 2-3 answer within the hour, maybe a couple more over the next day. Not always the same ones, either. “Let me take a look” “Have you tried this?” Do you want to Skype?” “How is Bella? Better, now?” “When do you leave?”

    This is what they have taught me. Tell me who you really are. Be honest, be kind and above all, be generous and helpful. They have taught me that there is a massive world out there (here)

    They do a lot, for a lot of people. ~Amber-Lee

  8. says

    The A-Lister conversation seems to be an issue with people that want to be on the list but aren’t. They may say they don’t want to be or don’t care but then why are they concerned about it? Influence gets mixed with this term and makes that a bad word. Things like Klout and others are mainly interesting to people because it gives them a score to judge themselves against others. It is an ego yard stick. It is rarely being used today in a context or in a way that helps them achieve an actual objective.

    Everyone has had a conversation about which actors are A listers verse B listers. No one really cared too much because most people could not be on the list. Now people have a voice and can create that position for themselves with social media. If they really have an issue with A-listers they should get busy putting in the work to show that they provide more value than the people on the “A-list”. The people on the list that most take issue with are the ones that are there because they have figured out how to garner the attention from lots of people not necessarily because they have the best things to say.

    If people can’t deal with that they should get to work on the 5 step program listed above. Nice post.

    • says

      Thanks, Matt. I love this sentence, “It is rarely being used today in a context or in a way that helps them achieve an actual objective.” I guess that’s what I don’t understand about the whole thing. But maybe I am just a misfit.

  9. says

    I like your post! Mr Danny , It good for me to search out and find those who may be given the moniker of “A List” but who remain humble. I want to read someone because they write compellingly, stimulate my thinking, challenge my perspective and inform

  10. says

    What? I used to be an expert dog and now I can’t even be an A-lister any more? Whatever will I do with my twitter profile? :-) In response to AdAge turning me down for the Power150, I made my own club: The Pawer150, did up a badge and everything with my blog as #1.

    And naturally, when you link text like “the dog that barks the loudest” to something, I am going to click on it. Anyone who can do a Great Gatsby metaphor on social media with the ease at which you did it has all the influence I’ll ever need. Bravo. Go liberal arts education!

    Just one itty bitty point: I find it amusing when A-listers — having found an audience that will follow them to the ends of the Earth on blogging, social media, blah, blah whatever — start digging into industries they know nothing about (such as retail, fashion, “real” marketing, research) get clobbered by the true experts who may not blog or tweet. There is a perception among the bubble crowd that these real experts are fumbling around trying to make sense of their own industry when the A-listers have all the answers. While there are people working in these industries who are clueless, the majority are not. They know how to steer change at the right speed and the right direction.

    I made this point ever so casually in a comment on Margie Clayman’s blog last week (good read.) Everything is easy until you are the guy whose butt is on the line for results.

  11. Katerine says

    Great post!!!thanks for the tips about stop supporting A listers, when i see this blog it made me stop and read it.This is mindful and good in its own right. Rather than fighting,i suggest and make an effort to influence people to work for it.Invests time and gives influence to people who can’t accomplish things.

  12. says

    This has always been a fraud. First of all A-Listers are not A-Listers. Often they are out for themselves vs clients. Most have never built communities. And if your goal is to have your own personal brand you can surely learn from them. But if your goal is to grow your business they are the last people you should be looking for advice from.I personally do not follow any of them on Twitter (at least the last round of A Listers). I see a new round of them developing and they are different. They haven’t been blinded by fawning fans and media who launched them into the forefront. They have built real communities for their businesses and have real solid advice anyone can use. They also to perpetuate the fraud of social media being something it isn’t.

    Plus who keeps lists anyway. Unless someone brings you value move on. I mean do you carry the Wall Street Journal around just to look impressive while not reading it?

  13. says

    Your post was very thought provoking. Just because you don’t have a “name” doesn’t mean you lack a voice. Keep talking!

    I think there is some things to learn from A-listers. Not all of them but the ones within your specific niche. You aren’t doing the world a favor if you try to be them. All you can be is yourself.

  14. says

    Why I love this post is because it helps me define what A-List means to me. I know who they are in my backyard, and those peeps are not all Ad Age Power brokers.

    When one of us aspires to be an A-Lister, it comes with hidden responsibilities. When you’re a leader, you need to engage elsewhere than just your blog comments; you need to thank the tweeps who RT you; respond to their tweets, FBs and invitations to read their posts.

    Being an A-Lister requires respect for the community you’ve built and the community who enables you.

    At the end of the day, Geoff, what you say is spot on. There are peeps putting out thoughtful content who get no formal recognition, and perhaps their business goals do not intentionally conform to monetization.

    We already know which A-Listers make time to remember and care about their community; and we know when arrogance begins to replace that nurturing.

      • says

        OK now I have to disagree with you Geoff. Or at least let’s expand on this. I have worked with every type of Industrial Business and Internal Groups within these businesses. And I find Marketers are the group most likely to be suckers. So someone is getting hoodwinked. There is that joke about half of the ad spend being wasted but which half is the question. And I think obviously the Ad Industry doesn’t want their revenues reduced 50% but unless they find suckers it will be. And they find them. How does this happen?

        Is it like the US Government where basically Congress/President and all appointed positions are the Brands and the Lobbyists are the Ad Agencies and people just shuffle back and forth taking the money from the people who are the shareholders for the brands?

        You would think all of us would be turning away business except for the hoodwinking going on? LOL

  15. says

    Hey Geoff – most excellent post sir…

    #5 sums it up perfectly; don’t waste time, do meaningful things.

    The popularity contest should have ended in high school, but seems to rage on social web.

    From a professional (business, marketing, PR) standpoint – IMPACT and getting things done for your business, clients and/or the world we live should be the focus.

    Moving people, moving the economy, providing solutions and doing things that benefit the community is what matters.

    Numbers and popularity don’t necessarily equate to being productive.

    If your time is not accomplishing worthwhile things for your family, for others or your future – you should re-evaluate your the investment of time or strategy you invest online.

    Cheers to thoughtful this post :)

    • says

      A lot of companies have wizened up to the game. Many more won’t, but the good ones already see the smokescreen. Meanwhile, if we actually do focus on IMPACT it should be a non issue. Hope you are having a great day, sir!

  16. says


    I follow those five tips when I don’t think a person, whether he/she is an A-lister or not, deserves the publicity.

    I do think that some A-listers can post whatever they want, and people will blindly push it to their social networking sites. Perfect example: Last week, I saw one post the exact post as another publication that had published it in January, and it had 1,000 tweets.

    I want to shake some people and yell: “Wake up!” However, I know that I can only control my actions, and I tend to not pay them any mind.

  17. says

    Tempted to not RT this, so I don’t carry on the conversation Geoff. 😉 And I totally agree that if you don’t like or whine about your community all the time, get out – and find a new one. Also will 2nd and 3rd all the comments about finding and defining our own “THIS is what matters to me, THESE are the people I like” lists. Word.

    Now a nitpick: dismissing an otherwise helpful, quality post because it came from a so-called A lister… is it not the same as ignoring one just b/c from the likes of someone like myself? Ditto a tweet or RT. Don’t misunderstand me, I have been giving the unfollow button a healthy workout of late and yet, plenty of folks who may not use MY style of engagement are still there, still get a look in the reader once in a while. I have some respect different, smart ideas that aren’t always in sync with my own, keep an eye out for various points of view – keeps me honest. I’m not courting anyone’s favor, I don’t subscribe to the gospel according to anyone.. I just think if something has value to it, I’ll use it in a link or RT and not let whatever ‘list’ someone’s on take up so much of my time. FWIW.

      • says

        I hear you right back.. and in some cases, I barely started listening as I wasn’t all that impressed in the first place. Now I’d be lying if I said I didn’t notice if I was ‘ignored’ in some circles but then not sure what I’ve done to get ‘noticed’ either. Whatever.. think maybe that is what’s not worth the time of day, the worrying or noticing the popularity contest. Thanks.

  18. says


    It’s funny because I was thinking of writing a post on nearly the same subject. These days I rarely read the blogs of the so-called “a-list” because I find that it is really hard to develop relationships with them. I also love that new bloggers com to the table with fresh ideas and as a result I’ve embraced something Stan Smith at Pushing Social said “kiss lots of digital babies.” Many of the a-list blogs these days are not even written by the person who started the blog, so the value has diminished in my opinion.

    • says

      ‘Really hard to develop relationships with them’…kinda the understatement of the century there Srini 😉 But you’re exactly right man, and not to keep lauding Gini and Danny, but that’s what impresses me about them so much– they have an approach to others as a brand new blogger would have— welcoming anyone who wants to eat at the table.

  19. says

    I haven’t ever subscribed to the belief that there is an A-List. There are too many variables to and factors at play and I am not interested in building consensus on who is or isn’t.

    In many ways blogging is no different from our school days. Some bloggers are popular for reasons that are hard to fathom and or don’t make sense. It is a waste of time to worry about it.

    Power and influence in social media is derived from whether people respond to your call to action. The only thing I worry about is whether my community responds to my requests.

  20. Stephen Strepsi says

    Some nice points here.
    Just one quibble, particularly with someone pimping his writing: “eliteness”?

    The actual English word is “elitism”.

  21. says

    G’Day Geoff,
    I’ve been writing for about 50 years. I never go to “Writers Weeks” or “Writers Festivals.” It’s not that I don’t think that I could learn anything. I’m sure I could.

    But I couldn’t cope with all that overbearing intensity of writers and would-be writers discussing writing as if it talking about it would make you better at it. You learn to write by writing.

    I’m a relative newbie in the so-called blogosphere. But I detect some of the same wheel spinning and navel gazing might, just might be evident here.

    Being read by 1,000,000 people is an extraordinaily exciting prospect. But if none of them are in my target market, that’s all it is.

    “You like A-list and I like A-list” But, as the old song says, maybe it’s time to “call the whole thing off”

    Make sure you have fun



  22. says

    You can’t destroy the A-List, whoever they may be. Avoiding them and remaining focused on your own profile, relationships and goals is certainly good advice.
    However, the self is defined in the reflection of others so it helps to have ready access to a group of popular influencers to rebel against :)

  23. says

    Since I’m going to take an alternative view here I’m glad it’s not Danny that wrote this post.

    I think what you wrote here is a knee jerk reaction to the issue. So people stop linking to and talking to and talking about the folks now considered A-listers. Who do they then designate as the next person they follow, and then what happens if that person becomes the next A-lister, stop following them as well?

    It sounds like ultimate hate for A-listers, and it reminds me of an interesting debate I’ve been having lately with someone else regarding the concepts of wealth and why some people are vilified just because they happened to have figured out how to be wealthy.

    Frankly, I don’t like this direction. At least have a good reason to hate someone that might be an A-lister. For what it’s worth, the guy whose blog this was posted on is considered an A-lister by a lot of people (though Danny would want to defer from that); do we stop following Danny because someone has decided to put him on that pedestal?

    It may seem strange that someone like me would take this position after writing the article that I’m linking to here through CommentLuv but the reasons are much different and the outcomes wished for are different as well. If people really hate A-listers just because someone called them that, then they’re going to do everything they can do to avoid ever becoming an A-lister. If that’s the case then you might as well stop writing your blog now if you have one because no one ever wants to become what they don’t like. Luckily, in this case I have no such qualms.

    • says

      Mmm, no, it’s not a reaction. It’s a response. Actually I took these steps myself last winter, and have been colleagues with many of these top bloggers before they got big over the past five years. So while you may not like the direction, it’s worked for me and helped me to enjoy blogging again.

      And yes, while Danny is a a great blogger, his feet are on the ground. But I won’t call him an “A-Lister,” he is better than that.


      • says

        I must admit Geoff, I’ve really enjoyed reading this article and the subsequent responses. Although I could literally argue for and against the subject herein, I just want to say I’m impressed with your hard-nosed approach. You don’t back down easily, and I respect that.

        Cheers mate,


        (PS: avatars with hairy animal faces rock)

  24. says

    Great post, Geoff and bang on. It’s interesting to find out how “a-list” someone is when you’re in a packed restaurant of real people and ask if anyone has heard of ________. Sad to say, the response isn’t so favorable. We live in a digital bubble, we need to help companies and organizations. We need to point our focus on making a difference not another point on the Klout tote board.

    It really has nothing to do with numbers and I often wonder what the social web would be like without all the stupid counters.

    Let’s get out of our thimble and join the rest of the humans.

  25. says

    People will always pander to A-listers. There is no easier way to get mileage from a blog post than to mention a handful of high follow count people and then let them spread it for you. It’s essentially using marketers to do the marketing for you.

    The result is a spike in followers and perhaps a rank up in social popularity. It’s a great way for Z-listers to run perhaps as high as the B-list.

    But then again, what do I know?

    • says

      This is the sad truth right here; this is the reason why people will keep courting A-listers. Getting an A-lister to even peripherally acknowledge an aspiring blogger will immediately result in a huge boost of followers/readers. I share Geoff’s sympathies and wish it weren’t the case, but that’s the reality right now. The star bloggers will stay on top while the rest of us fight for their breadcrumbs.

  26. says

    I’m a bit late to the party and thanks so much for the link, Geoff. I think your comment on my post was so spot on about it being two schools rather than two classes. A-list is probably an incorrect term as folks like you, Gini and Danny are already there. Seems to be that at one point everyone was walking and talking the talk. Now there are those that are talking it and those that still
    manage to do both…

    It is coming down to a matter of those who care about the klout they have vs. those that just have it…

    I still think it is a matter of being a little lost rather than doing something wrong or bad and leave a little bit of hope that there is still room for those who care about all the status to come down to earth a little bit… (read: a lot a bit…)

  27. says

    I have recently read somewhere, maybe it was a blog post or something, about how those A-listers are only A-listers for a handful of bloggers. And that is true. Who, outside of this small circle of blogs we all live in, knows about those people!?

    I found it very interesting to learn that I am doing great according to your 5 point list. I am not linking to them, following them or talking about them. Honestly, I learn so much more somewhere else.

    I respect their success and wish the same for all of us, but a lot of beginners (and unfortunately those who aren’t so green) tend to look at what the A-listers do and try to copy everything.

    You end up with lousy blogs that fail pretty fast.

    Anyway, just wanted to say that I completely agree with you, Goeff.

    I understand most of the comments here. But I also know of some people that are against your opinion here, that base their commenting habits by “I can attach a comluv link and get a dofollow link” compared to “I will not comment on Disqus blogs”. Those are the people that will always “defend” A-listers no matter what they do, because that is what they read on their blogs “You must comment like crazy and get links from dofollow blogs”.


    Anyway, Danny is far better than what most of see as A-listers. He is a list of his own and a genuine person above all!