Social Media Vanity Metrics and Why They Don't Matter

by Tabitha Young on October 25, 2019

Social media is a valuable - and necessary - part of any team's inbound marketing strategy. With more online social media platforms than ever, it's easy to get caught up tracking metrics on every network. With all the options available to your audience, it's easy for you to get discouraged while tracking these metrics because they don't meet your preconceived notion of success. Some people might even have a distorted view of success!

But not all social media metrics are created equally. So, let's take a closer look at why some social media metrics are less about function and more about vanity - and how you can avoid falling into the trap of taking the wrong metrics too seriously. 

What Are Some Examples of Social Media "Vanity" Metrics?

After you've hit "send" on a post, it's easy to continually check to see how it's performing. How many people viewed it? How many people "liked" it? It's human nature to want your posts to get positive attention. However, some metrics - we call them vanity metrics - aren't nearly as telling as others. 

Here are four examples of social media marketing vanity metrics: 

  • Impressions. The number of people who viewed a post. This includes your followers as well as anyone who viewed it via a share. 
  • Views/ Impressions. This is simply the number of people who viewed your post. 
  • Followers. Your follower count is every person on your social media page who has actively chosen to have your posts appear in their feed. Follows can be a valuable on some social media channels, such as Instagram, but for other platforms it's useless.
  • Subscribers. This is specifically a Facebook metric. Similar to a follower, a subscriber has made a conscious decision to receive your content (though due to the Facebook algorithm, they may not always see it unless you pay for ads.) 

These metrics can be useful, and on some level, they do describe how effective your social media presence is in attracting attention. But compared to other, more telling metrics used for inbound marketing, they don't really matter. 

Why They're Called Vanity Metrics And Why They Don't Really Matter

Sometimes, a "like" isn't really a like. 

Don't misunderstand - getting a lot of likes on a post isn't necessarily a bad thing. In some cases, it can be quite good, leading to more engagement and drawing more attention to your post. But a metric like this one is only as valuable as much as it helps you accomplish your goals. 

But how much are these vanity metrics really helping your organization? Is it doing anything to help improve your bottom line? 

Every metric you review should tell you how close you are to achieving your goal

Facebook Marketing GoalsBefore you look at the numbers on these metrics, you must have a clear understanding of your team's goals. You have to know what you want to get out of your social media presence. Is there a specific product or service you're trying to promote? Every component of your inbound marketing strategy should exist to serve that goal.

Every metric should help tell you how much closer you're getting to achieving that objective. If it doesn't, what good is it doing other than helping you feel like you won an imaginary Facebook popularity contest? 

Let's say, for example, you post a funny picture to your Facebook page. It gets 1,000 likes (if that doesn't sound like a lot, substitute a number that does). You see this and experience five straight minutes of dopamine hits to your system as the likes keep flowing in. 

Then let's say a few minutes pass. Hours. Days. Weeks. And no one - not one of your "fans" who liked the post - engages with your brand in any way past liking the original photo. Maybe a few people share it with a comment of "LOL," but that's all. 

If your goal is to use Facebook to increase your business, do those "likes" really help you accomplish anything? 

Social media is an attention economy. You need eyeballs on your content to have any chance of achieving your objectives. But attention isn't a goal in and of itself. It has to lead to something more. 

What Facebook Metrics DO Matter?

When evaluating your social media presence, you have to look at which of your users are making it to that "next level" of engagement. That means that not only are they giving you attention by liking, following, or viewing - they're taking the next step to click a link or (best of all) buy something. 

The types of metrics that matter most are going to depend on what the goals of your inbound marketing strategy. But "next level" social media metrics do a better job moving the needle than the aforementioned vanity metrics. 

Here are three types of social media metrics that do matter:

  1. Engagement. Someone's liked your Facebook page. Congratulations. Now what? Do they let it collect dust in their collection of liked pages, never to be heard from again? Or do they comment on your photos, leave reviews, and share your articles?

    Having someone receive your content is nice, but having someone engage with it is even better. That increases the likelihood they'll organically spread your message for you. 

  2. Actions on your page. Let's say you have a prompt asking someone to "learn more," "request an appointment," or send you a personal message for more information.

    These type of click-through rates are very telling on how effective your social media presence is. Social media exists to inform your audience about the product or service you offer. If they're not trying to find out more about what you, what good is it doing? 

  3. Video retention. Facebook auto-plays videos, which means the views itself aren't very enlightening. But finding out how long viewers watched your video is.

    Seeing how many viewers you retained to watch your video longer gives you an idea of how compelling your content is. You can also see who's sharing your video and commenting on it - that engagement will also let you know how effective the material is. 

These types of next level engagement metrics are the ones you should review to gauge the true effectiveness of your social media strategy. They can help you see what content works, what doesn't work, and what parts of your social media strategy you need to improve to get you closer to your goals. 

If you have questions about your inbound marketing, our team would be happy to talk with you.  Schedule a free 30 minute consultation.

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