Vanity Metrics: How To Measure Social Media Metrics Effectively?


No matter which social media channels you use for your marketing campaigns, surely you won’t find yourself faced with a shortage of data or lack of tools to help you measure them. Social media metrics include various information that help businesses analyze, optimize and track actions on their channels in real time or throughout a certain period. Nonetheless, not every piece of information is useful or relevant as it may appear. That’s why it’s so crucial to know the difference between vanity metrics and actionable metrics.

Vanity Metrics: Why You Should Avoid Them?

Let’s start with defining the difference between these two types of social media metrics. Long story short: vanity metrics are stats that look good on paper, but have no real value for your business or social media campaign. Basically, they don’t mean anything important. Vanity metrics include flashy analytics such as a number of followers, page likes, number of subscribers, number of downloads, etc. All of them are easily manipulated and have no real value for you as a business owner or for your customers. Sure, they give you a false sense of success and can serve as social proof, but won’t provide you with real information about your business growth or ROI.

The problem with Page Likes on Facebook

One of the obstacles I encounter most often with new clients is explaining it to them that there is no point in investing in Page Like campaigns on Facebook. Even if they have some knowledge of social media marketing and are aware that Facebook’s organic reach is almost non-existing, they still wish to relocate a part of their budget into getting more page likes.

In all fairness, I always try to understand their side. They want their company to seem successful, so having a large number of page likes can be perceived as proof that people seem to like them. But page likes can be purchased and are, therefore, fake. Moreover, having a large social media audience should suggest that your company is posting valuable, entertaining, and helpful content on its Facebook page. That doesn’t always have to be the case since without advertising your posts, hardly anyone will see them. Eventually, your target audience and competitors will notice lack of engagement which will make them wonder why is that if your page likes suggest you have such a large community.

Instagram’s vanity

The same thing happens with Instagram as well. Companies and brands want as many followers as possible, but seem to forget not everyone who follows them will eventually become their customer. Some people simply follow them because they enjoy their content, others because it resonates with them. This is quite important to remember for premium brands and companies who sell luxury goods: people will follow them because they want to own them, but not everyone can afford it. So there’s really no point in having thousands of social media followers who will never enter their store and make a purchase. Instead, they should focus more on having a reasonable number of followers to whom they serve engaging content which will eventually inspire them to buy whatever they’re selling.

Don’t be vain and focus on numbers that only look good on paper. Shift that focus onto tracking the right social media metrics that allow you drawing logical conclusions which will help you improve your business and marketing strategy. Memorize that vanity metrics aren’t entirely useless, but don’t be fooled by them. Try to ask yourself the right questions that will then lead you towards actionable metrics worth measuring. For example, what percentage of your followers are interacting with your brand? How many are following through to your site and becoming customers?

Influencer Marketing Metrics: What to measure?

Following everything I wrote regarding Instagram, I also want to briefly touch upon influencer marketing. Most people only want to work with influencers who have the highest possible number of followers/subscribers on their social media, without checking other valuable metrics such as their engagement rate, reach or click-through rate on links they share. A lot of influencers became influencers because they purchased fake followers to seem like they have a large online community.

Before deciding with which influencers you want to work with, make sure you’ve asked them to send you their stats and focus on checking engagement rate on their content (likes, comments, shares, etc.). Sometimes there’s a lot more sense to invest into a handful of micro-influencers rather than into just one influencer with a couple of thousands of followers.

Actionable Metrics: Meaningful Stats Worth Tracking

So I assume that by now, if you’ve reached this far in this blog post, you’ve realized actionable metrics are the opposite of vanity metrics. They are the kind of social media metrics that bear a direct correlation with actions that could lead to business success. To properly detect these metrics, first, you need to know what are your business goals and social media KPIs.

Ask yourself the following: what exactly are you trying to achieve with social media marketing? Is it better communication with target audience and engagement with your brand? Do you maybe wish to increase your website traffic or sales conversions and leads?

Identifying Actionable Metrics

Vanity metrics such as page likes or the number of impressions on a post won’t give you information of how much traffic your website got, but tracking actionable metrics such as landing page views or click-through rate can help you come to some interesting conclusions.

Let’s say you have an e-commerce website and aren’t sure what to measure. Well, if your ultimate goal is for website visitors to make a purchase, then tracking how much “likes” you got per post won’t mean jack squat. Instead, focus on how much reach you got, and from those people you’ve reached with social media posts, check how many of them actually clicked on a link and visited your website.

Furthermore, instead of measuring page views, pay attention to your bounce rate. If it’s high, then something must me off. Either you’ve reached all the wrong people who don’t resonate with your business at all, and you need to change targeting characteristics of your social media audience. Another possibility is that something on the landing page itself needs improvement. Either way, it’s fruitless to have a larger number of page views if most of these visitors leave and don’t make the ultimate goal of becoming buyers.


So take a step back from your current social media reports and review all the metrics you’ve been tracking so far.

  • Are they helping you draw useful conclusions about your brand, company, marketing strategy?
  • Can they serve as good indicators of where your focus should be in the future?
  • Have you been receiving the needed value from the information you’ve gathered?

Instead of creating another monthly spreadsheet full of vanity metrics, make sure you are tracking actionable social media metrics that will drive the growth of your business and support your digital marketing goals.