SevenCubed - 11:35 pm on Sep 12, 2012 (gmt 0)
Using the terms "authority" and "social media" in the same sentence is an oxymoron if you are referring to sites like Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest. Those types of sites, with few exceptions, are not a source for valuable insight on any topic. They are primarily manipulative platforms for self-promotion, whether for individuals or for companies marketing their wares. I consider true social media to be in the form of website forums such as Webmaster World for us techies, or numerous others that are setup in their related fields of interest. And the less commercially driven they are, the more precious the info to be found on it. Webmaster World is an ideal example of a properly functioning social media platform with sooooooo much combined knowledge derived from a depth of member experience. Combine that with the simple non-distracting layout, and the discreet ads necessary to pay bills, and it appears to be a successful community service fulfilled.
True authority already exists throughout countless websites worldwide. Here's the key; whoever comes up with an algorithm that is capable of bringing those websites to the surface by understanding how to recognize true authority (I could write a separate post about that) will win the search engine war. It will not be any of the existing ones because they are chasing trends rather than setting them. Signals from modern social media is mostly just a gossip mill filled with frivolous chatter. If that chatter becomes longer than 140 characters people will loose their interest in it. I would estimate that 70% of the world's population basks in the frivolous stuff and 30% have the fortitude to dig deeper. Also, of those percentages, it's not evenly distributed worldwide, there are pockets of regions that lean more to one way than the other. From an outsider's perspective I see the Scandinavian region of the world as a best example of balanced sensibility. I won't name the worst because chucking spears accomplishes nothing. It's simply a matter of knowing where current "social media" is most popular to recognize regions or countries sliding into the "dumbed-down trend". If a corporation such as google, who has influence to put people into search bubbles also continue to put people into social media bubbles they are going to contribute to an ever increasing state of ignorance.
Does this mean that social accounts with little to no activity carry less social media authority?
If that's how they interpret it -- again that is going in the wrong direction. An account alive with constant frivolous chatter, compared to one who publishes useful stuff infrequently, may be at opposite ends of the spectrum of popularity but I would tend to lend my eye to the latter.