It occurred to me this morning as I visited ASAE’s community, Collaborate, that just as a lot of social metrics are focused on quantity over quality, so are private community metrics. Featured on the home page of the community is the popular leaderboard showcasing “most active members”–aka the members who post the most and/or visit the most communities. Emphasis on “the most.” But what about “the best”? The most insightful posters. The mostly-lurkers who are, for the most part, silent observers but who occasionally respond to a member’s question in a really helpful way?
Social media is so much about numbers and misguided focus on them. Wanting to have the most fans, the most followers, the most likes because more is better, right? But most isn’t necessarily better when it comes to relationships or interpersonal communications, which is kind of what community is about. The person who talks the most or the loudest doesn’t necessarily bring the most value to the conversation.
In the association world, there was recently a big conversation about whether or not lurkers add any value to a community. So if getting lurkers to come out of their shells and actively participate in a community is a goal, is the focus on activity and featuring “most active” on the homepage of the community a nudge in the wrong direction? Should we instead–or in addition to–somehow highlight insightful comments or helpful community members, and, by doing so, maybe encourage lurkers to chime in, if even occasionally? Do lurkers feel that there’s no point in chiming in if their very occasional commentary will just be drowned out or go unnoticed in the sea of comments from the more vocal members who comment more frequently?
To me, it’s kind of like content curation or social media management or online influence rankings–automated processes produce not-so-useful outputs. Sure, it’s easy to stick a “most active user” widget on the homepage and check “identify and highlight most valuable community members” off your list–but is doing so a missed opportunity to highlight (and possibly reward (if “most active” users are somehow rewarded) some really valuable community members?