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Social media metrics: Vanity Metrics vs Actionable Metrics!


The old saying says “All that glitters is not gold”. And, hundreds of metrics on social media are those glitters that impress you and boost your ego as a marketer.


Your social media posts reach hundreds of followers.

Your social media pages are exploding with new followers.

Your follower number reaches a milestone of a couple of thousands.

You’re posting 20 posts per week on your facebook page.

You’re happy and satisfied. The numbers seem so pretty on your monthly report.


But, does this really matter to your business?


What are the metrics you should invest in collecting and interpreting? Those that matter are called actionable metrics. While those that only serve at feeding your vanity are called vanity metrics.




Vanity Metrics vs Actionable Metrics: How can I tell the difference?


As we all know: knowing the terminology of social media marketing terms is vital to grasp them fully. So, first things first, we should start by defining both terms: vanity metrics and actionable metrics.


Vanity metrics: Numbers that can boost your vanity and ego, but they don’t have a meaningful value in reality. While some of them can tell you about the health of your business and show you the scope of growth you’ve reached, they don’t matter much in the growth of your business or your decision making. So, they are called vanity metrics because they impress you and push you to brag about them thinking they really matter.


Actionable metrics: Unlike vanity metrics, actionable metrics are data, stats and rates that can tell you the result of your campaigns and push you to pull out data-driven decisions in your marketing strategy. They guide you to take the right actions when they are interpreted accurately.


What are the metrics aka Vanity Metrics should I Avoid?


Unfortunately, there is no fixed and goes-for-all list of all the vanity metrics that you should avoid. Why? Because what is deemed as vanity metrics for your business may be deemed an actionable one for another business. Whether a metric is considered vanity or actionable depends hugely on your business goals, business stage and many other circumstances.


If you are a well-established company with thousands of fans on your social media pages, you cannot compare yourself to a newly-emerging startup aiming for exposure and brand awareness. You may be focused more on how many of these fans are doing what you want them to do and achieving your goals. The newly-born startup may be focusing on the number of followers and this metric tells them of the scope of the exposure they achieved and the type of audience they acquired as well as the social media content their audience prefer. While the number of followers is deemed meaningful for the startup, it’s less significant for a well-established business.


But, wait! Do you know what do we mean here by “meaningful”? Whether a metric is meaningful or not, it should be tracked and taken into consideration. You can’t calculate your engagement rate or your conversion rate without taking into account your fanbase size. So, meaningful means “can be used to craft a data-driven strategy and make accurate marketing decisions.


So all in all some of these metrics are usually vanity metrics:


  • Number of followers

  • Post reach

  • Impression

  • Action rate


When these metrics are compounded with other metrics, the combination can give you insights on many things. But alone, they can’t but mislead you into the wrong marketing decisions.


Why vanity metrics don’t matter that much for your business?


You figured it out by now, the number of followers is a hollow number for many companies. Instead, what impregnates all the meaning is all of the following: who these followers are, how they are interacting with you social media content, how many of them are led to the next step, are they already customers or prospects, and how many of them are converted into customers. Once these questions are properly answered, you and your team can carry on setting and optimizing your next strategy.



Usually, marketers brag about their audience size. When it’s a big number, we all want to indulge in a long speech in a coffee corner about how much effort we’ve invested to reach that number. But, in reality a large number can only tell you about the brand awareness stage. But, nothing more. If you’re a web development agency with valuable content on social media, you can attract people who are passionate about the field, people who work in the field and others who want to be hired. Are these people a part of your marketing persona? No.


This can mislead you into thinking your business is running as it should be. But, in reality these followers don’t bring you money to run your business nor to feed your employees.



Another example of why vanity metrics don’t matter is the number of impressions. Impressions are the number of times people met your content on their feed no matter what action they took. It’s good to be shown on their feed. May algorithms be always on your side. However, you need to dig deeper in them. How many people reacted to your displayed content? How many of them shared, commented or clicked on your content? These are the real metrics you should track. Saying your content was successful by only seeing the number of impressions is a big mistake.



What metrics really matter to your business aka actionable Metrics?


Metrics can be very tricky. That’s why vanity metrics are considered dangerous. As a general rule metrics that matter are the metrics that can tell you what exactly you have achieved and what content your audience liked and pushed them to do what you want them to do. Thus, it depends hugely on your business goal and social media marketing strategy.


But, no matter what, conversion rate is deemed the king of actionable metrics. It’s the metrics that help you understand how many prospects were tuned into customers via your social media posts and how many of them were driven to your website and increased your website traffic.


Engagement rate is also deemed important for most businesses. Rates are more specific.

Engagement rate tells you the exact percentage of users that interacted with your posts in a clear manner, visibly. Thus, it tells you the value of your content and which content resonates more with your audience.


Clicks are very telling. As they refer to the number of clicks on your posted content be it links or photos or videos. How many users clicked on your content in order to expand it and read it. A healthy community should interact with your content and show interest.




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