What Are Vanity Metrics and Should You Be Using Them?

    September 08 2021

    You've put in the hard work of developing a social media strategy that is not only engaging but converts. And in order to find what's working and what isn't, you’ll need to start evaluating certain metrics. But not just any metrics, depending on your goals, you'll want to dig a little deeper than what you can see at the surface to get to the most meaningful insights. In this blog post, we’ll discover what vanity metrics are and how your brand or business should be using them.

    What Are Vanity Metrics and Do They Matter? 

    There are various metrics to look at when evaluating social media performance, such as the number of followers, likes, shares, etc. The most common metrics we pay attention to are vanity metrics simply because they are the easiest to see but aren't always actionable towards your business goals. Vanity metrics are nothing more than a surface-level look at your content’s performance and won't necessarily inform your future social media strategies. For example, your post for an event series your brand is hosting might have received 10,000 likes, but only 30 registration sign-ups. Though 10,000 likes might look good to the eye, your post didn't do what it was created for, which was to generate registration sign-ups. 

    Brands and businesses like yourself take to social media to do more than share an aesthetically driven post for likes. You are there to make money and gain market influence. For this reason, it is important that you look at a more accurate depiction of your content's performance in order to get you to your goals.

    Setting Goals to Meet Your Objectives 

    We've said it before, and we’ll say it again. Your social media success begins with planning and setting S.M.A.R.T. goals. S.M.A.R.T. goals stand for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timely. Let's break this down by looking at one of the most common social media goals – To Build Brand Awareness.

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    How to Get S.M.A.R.T. 

    Say your goal is to build brand awareness. To leave it at that does not tell you much. You'll want to get S.M.A.R.T. about it. 

    S: You want to first get specific about what that looks like for you. Think about what specific follower growth percentages you want to attain. 

    M: Then be sure it's something you can measure. You'll need to have a starting baseline when you set this goal so that you can measure the increase over a given time. 

    A: Next, set a goal you have a good chance of achieving in a set time frame. Yes, we all want 1 million followers, but will that happen in one week?

    R: Then, make sure the goal is relevant to your marketing strategy and brand mission. Consider what achieving this goal will do for your brand and why it's specifically important to move the brand forward. 

    T: Last, set a reasonable and appropriate due date for the goal to keep it timely. 

    After a certain amount of time has passed and you are ready to evaluate the performance and return on your efforts for your goals, you will want to select the metrics that connect closest to each goal element. 

    Understanding Your Metrics 

    To evaluate how well you are building brand awareness with your social media activities, you will look at metrics such as post shares, post reach, gain in followers, calculating engagement rates, etc. This will tell you how many people you are reaching, if they are new or returning, and how much they interact with your content. You will be looking at what are called "vanity metrics." They are very easy to see and interpret on every social media platform. They look good on paper and make you feel good about your social media activity. Plus, you feel good when you see how much your following is growing and how many times people "liked" a post. However, for some goals, this may not be enough to help evaluate and pivot. 

    Related: Instagram Engagement Rates: Do More Followers Lead to Better Engagement?

    If your goal on social media is to increase sales, simply looking at vanity metrics won't be enough. You can't possibly determine how many people purchased your product by looking at how many people clicked on your post about it. In this case, you will want to go beyond the vanity metrics and look at things such as conversion rates, how many people are signing up for subscriptions/newsletters, and click-through rates. If you are using paid ads, ad performance metrics to determine if you are reaching your sales goals online. 

    While vanity metrics do have value, they only start the story. Vanity metrics are easy to obtain and understand and can be impressive in reports, and you should not dismiss them. However, they shouldn't be the only metrics you take into account. Looking deeper into the sales funnel takes a lot of time and can be daunting. But think of the jewel that awaits the deeper you dig. 

    Related: Instagram Insights: Guide to Monitoring Your Instagram Performance

    PLANOLY’s Analytics Feature 

    Using the PLANOLY analyze feature, you can start to go beyond vanity metrics. Specifically, with Instagram, take a look at the number of people that have saved your content. Chances are, if they saved it, they like what they saw, and if they didn't take action just then, they might be back soon. 

    So yes, keep creating beautiful content and looking at those vanity metrics every time you evaluate your social media performance. They will provide you with valuable information. But if your goals are sales-oriented, to get really S.M.A.R.T., don't let it stop there! 

    Learn more about Allie Teegardin, on PLANOLY

    Allie Teegardin

    Allie Teegardin is a contributing writer at PLANOLY. As a writer, adjunct professor, and baker, she makes sure to add value to whatever she creates.

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