Rewarding top social media users

Techcrunch had a piece up a few weeks ago about whether or not top contributors to social media ought to get paid for the work they do, which I strongly recommend reading. It discusses the blurring boundaries between amateurs and professionals:

Recent events are proving that top contributors to social media sites need recognition and approval, if not payment, in order to continue doing the hard work required to make a social site vibrant. Mike Arrington has called Calacanis’s move to hire top users away from other sites by offering to pay them a huge red flag for Netscape, but I disagree with Mike and think current developments in spaces like social news but especially video sharing indicate that rewarding top users may be a solid strategy.

I want to recast the discussion in terms of fandom, because part of what’s going on here is that some users are doing things through social media sites that become objects of fandom. People go to the site, in part, to see what those users have created. Taking the users for granted and treating them all the same may drive out the ones who are making the site most worthwhile. Why feed an animal that doesn’t love you when you can create a domain of your own and get your fans to go to YourOwnSpace?

I’ve thought about this in the context of I think it would be to their benefit to have a way to show who the stickiest users are — who’s got the cutting edge taste everyone wants to check? who’s writing the journals people love to read? who’s doing great work filling out the artist wikis? I don’t know that those people ought to get paid (though I wouldn’t object if they did), but wouldn’t it be in everyone’s best interest if they at least got visible recognition?

I wrote the other day about the ethical onus to honor users in proprietary spaces that depend on users to provide the value. Recognizing those who gain fans through the site is one way to meet that challenge.

There’s likely to come a point when people stop being willing to line other people’s pockets with free creative labor. The wise will figure out ways to avert that problem before it starts.

Comments (1) to “Rewarding top social media users”

  1. I think the top posters should get paid as it causes original content which in return will bring more visitors to the site. Do to the fact search engines can detect that. So pay the top posters on social networking sites is what i say.