Vanity Metrics - the dirty little secret no digital marketer will own up to

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Heard of vanity metrics?

Most likely you have, it relates to being ONLY focussed on the number of likes that you have on your social media channels.

It can also relate to traffic numbers, downloads, views all matter of numbers that supposedly tell the outside world that you are a big deal.

If you search for vanity metrics online you will come across lots of articles that say ignore vanity metrics and just focus on engagement - but is this really what a lot of digital marketers actually believe?

What is the difference between straight vanity metrics and engagement? Where does conversion fit into this scenario and what about what straight numbers say to potential consumers.

Imagine this scenario, you are on a strip of restaurants on holiday and you are not familiar with the area, how do you choose where to go as all the menus looks very similar and the restaurant decor is all the same.

If you had previously looked in Tripadvisor, you most likely would have been drawn to the restaurant with the highest number of positive reviews. If you are just on the street, you might be drawn to the restaurant that has the most number of people sitting in it, without it being too crowded.

The herd is very rarely wrong.

When faced with no other means of making a decision, we are going to go with where the numbers are. The hard truth of the matter is, when you want to grow your footprint, you need to be seen to be popular to then further grow your footprint ( yep - just like Google!)

Let's think about a social media channel for example, let’s choose Instagram. What does it say about your business when there are only 135 followers, but you have posted 576 times and are following over 1100 people.

This is the dirty little secret that digital marketers and consultants don’t want to own up to, especially inside Instagram, but also in any other channel. Your numbers say a hell of a lot about who you are, especially if you are building a new brand. Based on no other means of making a decision, this first impression of you by a potential client is critical.

We might say, it’s all about engagement, and I only want to build a community of engaged followers, but what would the scenario as outlined above tell you?

This is what this tells me

  1. A low number of followers can be glossed over if the number of posts is also low. But if you have been hanging around Instagram for a while, why have you not been able to engage with more people interested in your business.
  2. The high number of posts (576) tells me that you are not new to Instagram so why the poor number of followers? Are your posts of poor quality? Are they too much of a mish-mash of personal and business thought bubbles with no clear strategy in place? I see this ALOT.
  3. The ratio of a low number of people following you vs a high number of people you follow is also not a great first impression. This again can paint a picture of you that is not entirely accurate, & to be honest, looks a little desperate. Have you just liked all and sundry without thinking about what kind of value they offer you, what kind of value can I offer if I start engaging and commenting with them. Normally we follow people inside Instagram to teach us things, to help us, our business or our clients grow their business. So have you thought strategically about who you are following?

As a digital marketer, and one with a baby brand, less than 6 months old ( despite my 17 plus years in business ) I know that I cannot afford to let my numbers languish in my target social media channels.

I need to actively seek to grow these numbers, FAST.

It doesn’t matter that I know my target market, that I know my content is good, that I am strategic about what I post, who I follow and what I share.

I need to make sure that my baseline numbers clearly reflect from that very first impression the calibre of business I am.

So I have actively sort to grow these vanity metrics, all the while focussing on the quality and the strategy that will be of benefit to my target audience.

We only get one first impression - make sure yours is the best it can be.

So the next time you hear someone say, ‘vanity metrics don’t matter’, just check out their social media numbers and then think about what that tells you as a consumer.

NB: In an effort to be transparent, you can click through to my social feeds and check on my growth and keep me accountable!

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