It depends greatly on the topic, but in today’s world, it does appear that a stranger’s comment or post with 1,000 likes is more directly influential than the opinion or knowledge of an acquaintance. There is no science behind this, as of yet, but early research appears to equate number of likes, retweets, hearts and dislikes with equal or greater importance as a trusted acquaintance, like a neighbor.
Before social media, the answer was less opaque. If, for example, my neighbor down the street got a really nice haircut in a style similar to one I am interested in and I was dissatisfied with my current outcome, a referral from my neighbor might influence me to try his barber next time I need my mane tamed. If my friend’s co-worker had the same thing to say, I might not pay nearly as much attention, since I might not have seen a picture of the results, nor knew the person well enough to trust his judgment.
On social media, where all comments and remarks are equal until otherwise denoted. This differentiation, in the form of likes, dislikes, hearts, retweets and shares can act as a global approval/disapproval machine in which those who take advantage can reap the rewards.
For more on this topic, check out our new article this Thursday.