Social Media Advice 101: Avoid Being Seduced By Vanity Metrics

If there’s one thing the last few years have taught us about the state of social media is that not all metrics are created equal. Long gone are the days where total ‘likes’ or ‘followers’ accurately painted a picture about how consumers would interact with a product. Yet brands still fixate on these vanity metrics as an accurate measure of their success. With social media’s seemingly endless infiltration of our everyday lives, the question remains: what metrics really matter when measuring success on social?

What Are Vanity Metrics


Vanity Metrics Only Care About Themselves.

For years, there’s been so much social data at our disposal that it’s been difficult to navigate which KPIs marketers should really be focusing on. The lure of the flashy analytics may seem satisfying on paper, but marketers should beware.

Simply put, vanity metrics include any data that can be easily manipulated and do not necessarily correlate to meeting business goals. While these metrics lend to positive reporting (and make us feel really good), they do not offer any actionable insights to help make impactful decisions that drive business forward. Before you can objectively evaluate the success of your next social campaign, it is important to raise a red flag and stop getting caught up in the following vanity metrics:

  • Followers/Fans– The follower/fan count has long been thought to be the main measure of popularity for a brand. “The higher the follower count, the more people like my product, right?” Hmmm…not so much. Often times, people will click the follow/fan button on a whim but leave your brand ghosted with the vast majority never returning. Unless they consistently engage with your brand, many algorithms will not feature your organic posts on their feeds. While a large audience may look appealing, it is important to remember that not all followers/fans translate to potential customers.
  • Impressions– Similar to your follower/fan count, impressions (by themselves) only provide a very general overview of how many people saw your content. Again, if this number is big, it looks great. However impressions do not differentiate actual audience engagement from someone just scrolling quickly through their feed.
  • Likes– There’s been a long debate over the value of the ‘like’ across social media. Different from followers/fans and impressions, ‘likes’ DO offer insight into how audiences are engaging with your brand. However, in comparison to other metrics (i.e. comments, shares, etc.) ‘likes’ may not measure up. In fact, some platforms, such as Instagram, are moving away from the prominence of this metric and are testing removing likes altogether.

Fall in Love with Actionable Metrics

The time has come for marketers and brands to dig a little deeper into actionable metrics. Instead of focusing on how your audience is passively consuming your posts (i.e. vanity metrics), turn your attention towards tracking your audience as they are consciously agreeing to move down the sales funnel. Some of these actionable metrics include:

  • Result/Conversion Rate– Your result rate (conversion rate) is one of the most impactful metrics because it’s directly related back to the objective of your campaign. It shows how efficiently and effectively your campaign ran by comparing the percentage of times your campaign reached its desired outcome (aka the results) to the total number of impressions.
  • Engagement Rate– How actively involved is your audience with your brand? Instead of focusing on one specific action, your engagement rate takes into consideration a myriad of metrics (including likes, shares, video views, comments, etc) to offer a more reliable perspective on how your campaign is performing. High engagement rates also impacts how often your profile appears in your audiences’ feeds, thus increasing your brand’s exposure to new potential buyers.
  • Click-through Rate (CTR)– Although at the surface click-through-rate (CTR) appears to be another form of engagement, its true value lies in the fact that CTR is specially tied to a link that brings your audience to additional content. Monitoring this metric will give you key insights into how compelling your content is.


Old habits are hard to walk away from but breaking up with vanity metrics will certainly help you build a stronger social media strategy. If you need us to intervene and set you on the path for a stronger relationship with your social media, let’s talk!