Marketers are often guilty of focusing on them in their reporting as they are easy to obtain, look good and show the instant value of a campaign, but they are essentially just top line claims. In brief, they are metrics which provide little to know actionable insight for your business. An example might be measuring page views; instead of reporting on an overarching claim that your page views are high, you should consider factors which show the behaviour of your users once they are on the page, such as time spent on the page or the bounce rate etc.
Using vanity metrics when reporting on your social media channels can also be misleading. You may have a huge number of followers, but if they are not engaging with your content chances are your click-through activity will be low and social conversions even worse still. Despite the negativity their value should not be entirely dismissed. They can sometimes be used to troubleshoot content issues, if a paid Facebook campaign is underperforming for example and you know that it is receiving below-average click-through rates based on its impressions, you could hypothesise that you are reaching the right audience but not enough of them, then use this knowledge to increase your spend and earn more views. Here are three things we think you should know about vanity metrics:
How to identify a Vanity Metric?
You can always identify them by asking these two simple questions: What business decision can we make with the metric? What can we do to intentionally reproduce the result? Smart, actionable metrics will help you to make a decision. They will provide feedback and context for what your business is doing and whether or not it’s working. They will help you adjust your marketing strategies to attract customers. Any data you track should be helping you to make your business better. Observing random occurrences isn’t helpful, page views earned from content going viral is great, but not useful if you can’t repeat it to expand on that success.
Why are Vanity metrics bad for reporting on social media campaigns?
In the social media field, data can be manipulated or punched up with extra spend. Social media metrics, for example, are fun to look at, but the fact that you can literally pay to increase their numbers make them unreliable and this means the number of followers your brand has is a vanity metric in itself. Engagement metrics, on the other hand, will help you to understand how much of an impact your social content is having on your ability to attract, retain and convert potential customers. By measuring how potential customers engage with your social media channels, you’ll be able to develop a far better understanding of whether your marketing efforts are working.
How can you use Vanity metrics to your advantage?
We’ve already seen that they can be used to help hack content optimisation. But let’s take it a step further. If you want to know if your content is resonating with your target audience, you will often measure awareness through A/B testing and the resulting vanity metrics. To discover what imagery engages an audience better for example, you will evaluate click-through rates and impressions, hypothesising that more impressions equate to a positive correlation. You can now use this knowledge when strategising future content creation. Of course accurate and reliable A/B testing will require strategic planning across a large audience pool to deliver actionable insights, but if you are just starting out vanity metrics could play a role in establishing your aesthetic.