I read that paragraph and I immediately thought of 1) LinkedIn and 2) A sort of social algorithm I used in University.
1) LinkedIn doesn't show followers ("connections") as prominently as it shows "contact degree".
You go to a profile page and you see their face and also a huge badge that says they're a 1st or 2nd, etc, degree contact, as in "Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon". It also shows "How are you connected?", which for a 2nd or higher degree contact shows you the chain of contacts that connects you.
2) In uni you quickly gain a lot of acquaintances, and I felt I wanted a rule of thumb to quickly determine how relevant or close a person was to me. I counted how many ways I knew them. Through class? Through town of origin? Through choir? Through jujutsu? If you were a 2 or 3 on connections, I was basically guaranteed to have a good time with you, we would have loads of things to talk about if we went out for beers, and I would probably trust you to have good intentions and that you would assume good faith in communications.
Come to think of it, Facebook actually displays this when it shows how many mutuals friends you have.
1) is social distance, 2) is social coupling
Reductive, of course, but I consider it helpful. In particular (2) is a far more relevant measure that tries to solve the same problem as follower count.