One million followers. 20,000 page views per day. Sixty click throughs a minute. These all sound fantastic, right? That brand must be killing it? Not necessarily.
“Vanity metrics”, a term coined by start up guru Eric Ries, refers to growth metrics that tend to look impressive, but don’t truly reflect the success of the campaign or the business. Easily manipulated and highly unstable, vanity metrics often get brought out to reflect innovation but rarely show more than opportunity.
In the context of social media marketing for a small business, a good example of this is a high Instagram follower count. 5K followers looks fantastic- It shows the business is well received, filling a need and showing some really captivating content. But if we take that metric out of the vacuum, and put it alongside engagement metrics like comments, or crucial actions like website click throughs, the follower count quickly loses its shine. After all, if the account has done a cheeky follower purchase and now have fake accounts as their majority, then these followers will never click through, never write a comment and never tell their friends and family about the brand.
Likewise, it’s easy to get excited about website traffic alone. After all, people are visiting your site and therefore must have an interest in your product! This is a great start – but don’t get too excited just yet. Focus instead on your Bounce Rate, and Returning users. Here, we gain a larger picture of how people are interacting with your website, and if their needs are being met. These metrics are key because they are actionable. You cannot necessarily control how many people will visit your site, but you can control how they navigate, what they see, and how they make a purchase or booking.
Charts full of green arrows and growing bar charts are encouraging, but if your presentation is based on vanity metrics alone, you’re not getting the big picture. Successful digital marketing is about focusing on opportunity, and continuously polishing strategies aimed at real conversions. If you find yourself hung up on vanity metrics, now might be the perfect time to step back and change how you report. While these metrics might not be as rosy, they present the opportunity to craft products, events and campaigns that make your brand stand out and sell – and we think that’s better than 200k fake followers.
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