Is the time in which I hold excellent rankings running out just because I refuse to take my hobby site social? Google is pressing extremely hard for people to stop promoting brands and start promoting themselves (even comments on Google spam team leader Matt Cutts's blog require a real name now) and I have very little interest in creating profiles on OTHER websites in order to promote myself and my site.
While that means I may not get additional social recognition and traffic, which I am fine with, does it also mean Google will, eventually, send me fewer visitors too?
I'm not asking about the causality and effect of not having social profiles (e.g. fewer links, less brand name recognition etc), I'm asking about the potential for eventual direct downgrade due to lack of social profiles. Should I be worried?
I'm not privvy to the details of the thumbnail generation they use, so I can't answer that question.
If you are on FB and have a www page with images, you can easily test it. Look at your stats after setup and you will see a "facebookexternalhit" UA picking up all images. Now get a few friends (either real ones or FB "friends") to visit the page containing the thumbnail you picked in the previous step. Look at your stats again and you'll see the hotlinks.