Numbers are sexy. Facebook and YouTube prominently display counts of friends, followers, likes
and views to seduce visitors. Does it really make sense, though, to measure social media influence in the
digital era using these means? Certainly, numbers are not irrelevant. Often, high connection counts on-
line correlate with high connection counts offline, not to mention that virtual connections can certainly be
real in and of themselves.
Yet these numbers come with a cost. The presence of "trolls" and“flame wars" where users con-
taminate online discussion with offensive or irrelevant material is a frequent issue for areas where com-
ment is open to all. This content is distinct from automated spam in form but not in kind-both spam and hol-
low contributions impair the coherency of the discussion at hand and, eventually, erode online communities.
In the analog world, the opportunity to judge popularity with numbers barely even presents itself
outside of political elections. Context dictates everything in physical communities. A chance encounter
with a sing e acquaintance can change one's entire perspective, regardless of that person's clout in circles
extraneous to your own In a digitally-mediated world,connection between individuals is of still para-
mount importance. Yet, friend and follower counts tend to obscure this fact with a layer of generality
that can get in the way of a successful personal connection And the way in which websites present these
numbers make an impact on how users respond to them The contrast between online video portals You-
Tube and Vimeo presents a great example of the difference between sites driven by numbers and sites
driven by community.
Some videos on YouTube with just a few hundred views readily provoke personal attacks on the up-
loader. A video hosted by Vimeo, in contrast, seems to have some inherent guarantee of quality in the
feedback. It's likely that the emphasis on advertisements has put YouTube in a position where they need
those sexy numbers of view counts and subscribers to succeecL Meanwhile, Vimeo's reliance on premium
members forces a focus on the experience of the content creator. Spam are more significant to the creator than
to the consumer, and it's more than a coincidence that there is a real lack of offensive comments on Vimeo.
My Community Manager Co-founder, Brandie McCallum, explains, "As similiar as YouTube and
Vimeo are, their audiences and therefore communities are vastly different. This plays into what content
is being shared and commented on A paid community is going to be a lot more exclusive and less forgiv-
ing where an open community's members are all screaming to be heard through the noise. " The takeaway
is not t at Vimeo's model is economically or morally superior; it is merely different, and it is feasible on its own ground .
Creating an emnronment for social growth is important, but never as important as the social growth
itself. What truly matters in social media, regardless of the type of media, is the connection between one
human being and another. Let's never forget that.
1. For social media influence, numbers function as _____．
[A] a glamorous medium
[B] a powerful weapon
[C] a wicked devil
[D] a double-edged sword