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Social Media Marketing: Looking Beyond “Likes” and “Follows”

Measuring the success of digital marketing campaigns has gotten more complicated as the number of measurement tools and social media platforms have multiplied over the years. Because of these challenges, many marketing professionals resort to using “vanity metrics” to measure campaign success. They tend to focus on engagement (e.g. page views, visits, time on page, shares, likes, retweets etc.) rather than metrics that provide meaningful results.

It’s hard not to pay attention to these metrics! Multiple studies have shown that when people receive a “like” or “comment” on a social platform their brains release dopamine or “a chemical associated with pleasure-seeking.” So, while “vanity metrics” might make you feel like your marketing efforts are successful, they actually don’t tell the whole story of your campaign progress. While they do play an important role in your overall marketing plan, they rarely tell you how well a campaign performed for driving sales. In this article we’re breaking down vanity metrics, how to identify them, and what metrics and stats you should be tracking for your social media marketing campaigns. Spoiler alert: traffic doesn’t matter as much as you may think!

Vanity Metrics

Vanity metrics include impressions, likes, comments, shares, followers, views, traffic, and more!  They are often referred to as “engagement metrics.” They are the most commonly used metrics in social media marketing and digital advertising campaigns to measure the effectiveness and success of marketing efforts.

Vanity metrics often aren’t actionable and aren’t related to anything you can repeat or control in a meaningful way to support your business. Focusing on them can be quite detrimental because they lead your business to believe it’s getting results, even when they don’t provide information about your growth and sales. It’s easy to get caught up in the numbers that look good and deceive yourself into thinking your overall sales process is better than it is.

Considerations to make when identifying vanity metrics

Can this metric lead to a course of action or inform a business decision?

Informed, actionable metrics help you make a decision! They provide you with feedback and context for what your business is doing, and whether or not it’s effective. These metrics help you adjust your marketing strategies to attract customers or tweak them when trying to land sales in a specific industry. Any data you track should help you to improve your business and create growth!

Can we consistently reproduce the same result?

If you can’t control the variables and repeat the process to create a similar metric, then there’s no room for improvement. If you can’t improve the process, then you can’t improve and replicate that metric and it isn’t doing anything to help you.

Is the data obtained a reflection of measurable results?

Data can be manipulated, especially with a price tag! Anyone can pay to increase their numbers. Seriously, you can purchase any amount of followers and create an “internet-famous” identity out of nothing in no time at all. This means the number of followers your brand has is a vanity metric.

Should I buy “likes” or “followers”? 

Never (and we mean ever) even think of buying followers or likes! Not only is it ineffective, but your audience can tell! A better investment is to start developing real relationships with potential customers you wish to attract. Put your money into creating great content to attract your customers organically.

If you are getting high engagement numbers and low sales this means you are doing a good job of getting your audience in the door, but can do a better job at converting your vanity metrics into measurable revenue. By focusing on actionable metrics, you’ll see what activities are having a positive impact on your business growth.

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Actionable Metrics

Actionable metrics are what most significantly affects your ability to reach your goals. Most importantly, actionable metrics offer you insight into changes you should make and strategies that will actually have a significant impact on your business growth.

When considering whether a metric is actionable or not, it is helpful to ask yourself these questions:

  • What causes our business to gain and lose revenue?
  • Does this content cause our business to gain or lose customers?
  • What are the essential functions and benefits that customers are coming to us for?

The main goal of tracking metrics is validating that you have built something people want. The reality of tracking metrics is that there is a lot of data that’s not helpful, and it distracts us from data that matters.

Here are some examples of the different types of metrics that matter to your business and are a significant representation of growth:

  • Infant: traffic, subscribers, reviews, social media shares
  • Adolescent: number of sales, revenue, conversion rate, customer satisfaction
  • Mature: impact, profit, retention length, revenue per customer, costs of good sold

As your business grows and you start to have a better view on what’s important, you’ll start to realize metrics you used to focus on don’t matter nearly as much as you thought they did.

In Conclusion

There’s nothing wrong with taking pride in your hard earned numbers and thinking about how your business appears online. But flashy numbers used as evidence of growth rarely have a place within a successful social media marketing campaign. At Kingston Webworks, we focus on the important numbers! We focus on the numbers that will bring you results and ultimately bring you sales! Contact us today to speak with our team of social media marketing experts and see how they can help you turn traffic into revenue.

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