Remember the “popular kids” in highschool. I moved around a lot so never really had the chance to become popular lest I got in a fight or two, and that wasn’t the type of popularity you really wanted. The popular kids tended to help form the choices of the student population, they were on the committees, the student body government and the Year Book committee. And just when I thought, we, as adults no longer cared about popularity, I see websites now offering “most popular links.”
Do you really think those links are the most popular, based on number of click thrus or did the web team for that company decide to sneak in a couple topics they want to make popular? You look at an Amazon and I have to believe it’s based on click thrus because of the shear number of people coming through that site and the number of products they manage, but for a B2B company with limited products/services? I’m not so sure.
Once you put “Most Popular” in a heading people click there. We’ve been taught to go there, we want to be with the popular people, the choices and the crowd – we want to understand what all the comotion is about because the group, more times than not, is more correct than the individual.
“Most popular” is still very much ingrained in our mental construct, and for those companies that have found that out, I believe they are likely leading us through what they feel is most popular rather than the system automating it via real click thru numbers.