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Ditch Vanity Metrics: Social KPIs That Actually Matter

Published: November 12, 2019       Updated: July 14, 2024

2 min read


Vanity metrics are like an animated PowerPoint presentation. They look pretty, but they’re ineffective if you rely on them too frequently. What is a vanity metric? Unfortunately, they are the metrics most people  use to measure social success (Think: followers, page views, reach, etc.). Vanity metrics can be easily inflated and don’t often correlate with the actions that are most important.

HubSpot offers this definition to help you dodge these deceptive analytics: Vanity metrics include data such as social media followers, page views, subscribers, and other flashy analytics that are satisfying on paper, but don't move the needle for your business goals. They offer positive reporting, but no context for future marketing decisions—something actionable metrics can do.”

And there’s fault in  relying on these metrics—especially as they are related to your overall marketing strategy. For example, if your brand’s goal is to increase your following by 50% in 2020, ask yourself these questions:

  1. Why does it matter?
  2. How will you keep this new audience engaged?

Undeniably, a huge following is WONDERFUL and certainly an appealing aspect of social media “clout,” but if your newly acquired audience doesn’t engage with your content— does it even matter?

If you launch a follower acquisition campaign on Twitter and your follower count shoots up astronomically but you see a decrease in engagements as a result, wouldn’t that worry you? Social media is less about drawing in big numbers and more about attracting the right audience to your content. Ideally you want your social campaigns to retain and convert your audience. ENGAGEMENT metrics should be a huge focus in measuring social campaign success.

Meaningful Metrics: Social Engagement Matters

Engagement is a major factor in social media and ultimately the truest key performance indicator (KPI) that impacts your social strategy. An engaged audience signifies much more than a number, it’s a direct reflection of your brand’s ability to stay relevant in a constant content vacuum. Engagement metrics also influence other key factors of a social strategy like conversion rates for your current and future following.

According to Sprout, high engagement rates indicate audience health (how responsive they are and how many are "real" followers), interesting content, and brand awareness. This means measuring engagement metrics like: 

  • Comments, Retweets, etc: these individual metrics add up - you can look at these either per post or overall for your profiles
  • Post engagement rate: the number of engagement divided by impressions or reach
  • Mentions: Organic mentions (excluding replies) are a good indicator of brand awareness

So instead of focusing on vanity metrics like follower count, reach, and views, focus on the engagement metrics that impact audience retention and conversions in the long term. I’m pretty new to Idea Grove, but not to social media strategy– way to grove on reading through my first blog and I hope to write many more. Here to help!

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