Curators look for quality content, with particular emphasis on good writing. They aren't concerned with fans or claps.
Between 1/3 and 1/2 of my articles here have been curated, in most cases as soon as they were published, before anyone but the publication had seen them.
That being said, there may be other algorithms that do respond to page views, such as the algorithms that determine which articles are listed as "trending" or listed in the daily emails sent to members. That's probably far more important than curation, if you want to get lots of exposure.
That's why you want a lot of followers, because that improves the odds of getting enough page views to get picked as trending.
So you're wrong about curation but probably right about the more important issue.