How "group think" influenced what we wore, who we hung out with, and what we valued?
Let's face it: we were immature, impressionable, and many times lacked the confidence and cognitive ability to think on our own and stand up for what we believed in.
And nobody, (heaven forbid) wanted to stand out and be considered different.
Pretty silly, huh? :-)
Though times have changed, a similar scenario plays out when it comes to, "cliques," blog following and online worship. It's a phenomenon known as "Social Proof".
What is it? I'm glad you asked.
Social Proof is a behavioral term that loosely translated, means that when people, uncertain of how they should act, will choose to follow the activities and actions of the masses.
In other words, if a person visits a new blog and sees a large subscriber count, he or she would be more inclined to join it, as opposed to one where there are few noted followers. Or, take for example, how popular "Tweets" are shared over and over, sometimes with little regard to content or credibility. "Perceived value" is really what is at work here.
So, what's my point?
Social Proof, when used properly, can have positive results. But it can also be misleading and restrict our choices, (not to mention, stunt our intellectual growth) .
With this in mind, here are a few things to consider before conforming to Social Proof.
- The popular choice is not always the best choice. It depends on individual circumstances, values, and personal taste. Here's a case in point. Sometimes I have opted to see movies at the show based upon ratings and box office earnings. I naturally assumed that the more popular the flick, the more likely it would be "quality" entertainment, and worth my money and time. Wrong! I don't always agree with the "Red Carpet" choices, and frankly, neither should you.
- Though it's great to "follow the pack" sometimes, make sure that there's something in it for you--not just the prestige of association. For example, some folks will follow the "big name" bloggers, not because they necessarily deem them better than the rest of us mere mortals, but because it's what everybody else is doing. Sometimes, the "road less traveled" can lead to some great discoveries. Be open to it. Venture your own path.
- Readers will often post comments to these A-list sites in order to be seen and validated. Don't get me wrong; many of the "cool kids" online merit popularity, but some may not. Diversify. You just might find that there's quality content and valuable connections with lesser known bloggers as well. Just like the cool kids, us Nerds need love too. :-)
- Size is not always a qualifier of quality.
Agree or disagree? How would you define a "small" Blog?
Do you follow the "cool kids"? Do tell. :-)