social media

Stopping Troubling Cheap Popularity Algorithms

Warmed by the SunsOne of the more silly issues of popularity algorithms is that they do  not degrade over time - and it's really simple to fix.

In the context of social media and the internet, the cheap and easy algorithms that people who consider themselves programmers copy and paste into their code, or install as a module or add-on, simply point to things based on statistics on how many views. In some cases, these are prominently displayed on front pages of websites or even in feeds from certain social media sites. It's a red herring - it tells you what has been viewed the most since the items have been posted - but it doesn't tell you what is actually more popular at the moment and what is more popular over time.

As usual, the problem gives away the solution. If a page has so many hits, it could  be because of longevity - a well written article can be timeless - but it doesn't mean that it's the most popular, either. What gets the most views per day? That would likely be popular. So rather than popularity being defined by what has been viewed the most (which is almost always inflated by bots!), popularity is defined by what is most viewed per unit time.

Thus, if you can define when things are posted, and you can define what the date is, you suddenly have an idea of how many times something has been viewed over a period of time. However, is it relevant? Relevance degrades over unit time for many items, particularly dated articles that clutter the Internet - but how fast does that relevance degrade? I've seen one Drupal module that attempts to use a sort of 'half-life' argument for relevance - and while it is better than simply counting views, it's a bit too linear for my liking.

So this is what I'm considering (Math notation, not programming notation):

Popularity = (Views/Time) x (1/Time)

Popularity = (Views/Time2)

That's really not too taxing of an algorithm for a server, is it?


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Grupo Cooperativo de las Indias

“Under every communication architecture, there hides a power structure.” That’s why communication technology is closely linked to social movements and governmental structures and, on the other hand, limits the growth of social relationships in every age.


Farming Facebook: Go organic.

One of the things that people still hang on to as a metric - for whatever peculiar reason - is how many 'likes' they get on their Facebook page(s) - a flawed metric, to be sure.

Engagement in social media is always more important than a snapshot of people who 'like' something.

So you can advertise on Facebook and get likes - but those likes do not translate to engagement.

The page discussed in the video is something along the lines of a honeypot, and the theory put forward in the video is that people in click-farms (places that get paid to click 'like') click the ads to get past algorithms that might spot them, thus causing people to spend ad money to google while the click-farms make nothing.

That's a nice way to look at the data. A less nice way might be to say that Facebook might be paying the link farms less than the revenue that they generate from the ads to click the ads. That's speculation, but it also fits the data.

Either way, the net result is the same: Facebook ads aren't that useful - and it does make one wonder whether other paid social media exposure is worth it as well.

If the metric is the amount spent versus the number of 'likes', followers, et al - it's a flawed metric because you can't gauge whether you're actually getting exposure. The only real metric is engagement and interaction - something most people impossible to measure. But you can measure engagement in various ways.

Counting the number of shares/retweets is one way to measure engagement. Another is mentions, where someone mentions you - and lastly, comments on things that are posted, conversations that are had, etc. The unfortunate part of measuring engagement in these ways is that it's quantitative and omits qualitative.

Qualitative, of course, is much more tricky.

So save your money and grow your social media presence organically. It's 'slower', but if your social media is important to yourself and/or your organization, don't think that the number of likes/followers someone has is worthwhile. It isn't. It's about interaction, engagement and community.

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