Why relying on dazzling looking insights without objective won’t help your social media growth reach star-status.
Imagine you’re an uber-talented musician and your band is performing to a packed out arena. The dream; however, ninety percent of the spectators received free tickets, pay little attention to your music and hoard the free merchandise before leaving early, never to be seen again. A full house but no fans – the show would be a flop.
You wanted die-hard fans who bought their tickets, belted out your songs, purchased merchandise and stuck around until the end, demanding an encore.
Social media followers are no different. Brands ultimately want an audience who love what they do, yet so many companies fail online because they are chasing the wrong kind of follower, falling into the easy trap of vanity metrics.
What are vanity metrics?
According to Hootsuite, a vanity metric can be defined as “an analytics item that can be measured but is not a signifier of real return on investment.”
Put simply it’s the number of followers, likes, impressions, comments, shares, page views and traffic that businesses tally up when assessing how well content is performing on their social channels, without fully understanding their objectives.
For example, if a user commented on one of your social media posts and a whole year later purchased your product, it would be difficult to determine if the two actions were related. The customer may have been influenced by various social media campaigns, blogs, newsletters, email marketing, OOH advertising (think TV/Radio/Display ads) or simply word of mouth. Social media may have contributed to the overall purchasing decision but it’s difficult to determine whether their head was turned by a particular post without a set of measurable objectives or strategy.
The fallacy of believing your own hype
We often assume that a sale is a sale, and brand awareness is ultimately raised the more followers you acquire on social media. But is it? Can you confidently say the majority of your followers have been converted into leads?
Let’s say you have 500,000 followers but they aren’t truly engaging with your brand; is it worth more than 50 followers who are? Unfortunately, assessing vanity metrics only ever tells half the story and most often than not leads to businesses having an inaccurate understanding of data, resulting in poor strategy decisions which focus on the quick wins i.e. gaining ‘likes’.
According to the digital marketing specialist website, NeilPatel.com ‘Vanity metrics are all those data points that make us feel good if they go up but don't help us make decisions.'
Metrics should help you take action, making decisions which create a positive impact on your profits. If a metric isn’t telling you anything about your customer journey, it’s essentially useless.
Falling for the feel-good factor
Feeling like a sucker right now? Don’t.
Plenty of businesses get starry-eyed after their post has been shared multiple times – which, don’t get us wrong, is great if you are tracking share-of-voice as a means to measure brand awareness. However, if your main objective is to increase traffic to your page, then much like the lead singer in a band who lavishes hero-worship, the psychological impulse to enjoy attention and attach feelings of validation doesn’t provide much value to your bottom line.
Limited time and top-line pressure is another motivation for being seduced by shallow data. Many marketers are under pressure from the C-suite to prove how well a campaign is performing, be it paid or organic, and therefore resort to the fastest/cheapest/easiest method to harvest results. All social media platforms provide such analytics, dazzling management with perceived success stories.
But the feel-good factor is short-lived as businesses grapple with a lack of understanding, as vanity metrics don’t paint a true picture of what works well or what areas need improvement, highlighting the ‘what’ rather than the ‘how’ or ‘why’.
A company could easily chase followers, possibly via paid advertising but there’s no guarantee that the followers you acquire are the right fit for your brand. It’s akin to giving away free tickets to your concert; sure, it introduces new people to your music, but are they likely to see you perform again when they actually have to buy a ticket?
Ultimately, you need to ensure your content is being viewed by the right people, at the right time in the marketing funnel, to ensure they are evolving from ‘likes’ to leads.
BECOME A METRICS MAESTRO
A quick win can prove just that – quickly over, as unsuitable followers bounce back off your social media profile never to be seen again. You want to be in it for the long-haul, investing in customer lifetime value (CLTV) and tracking revenue by analysing your customers’ actions, not those of your followers’.
Actionable metrics begin with determining marketing goals that are aligned with your business model and ensuring the correct metrics are employed to establish if you are meeting the relevant criteria to smash your targets.
Rather than just ‘impressions’, ‘likes’ and ‘page visits’, organisations should also assess ‘conversions’ – click-through rate (CTR) via call-to-actions (CTA). This could be how many users are signing up for a mailer, downloading a resource, registering for an event or contacting you directly.
Track meaningful engagement via ‘comments’, ‘saves’ and reviews which illustrate users’ interests and how they feel about your product/brand. In doing so you can build a strong community of followers, who become your biggest advocates and help raise awareness for you.
It’s also essential to gain a deeper understanding of which metrics should be employed for each channel e.g. ‘views’ on YouTube contribute to the overall ranking of your content and visibility. In contrast, Facebook is more concerned with the type of media users individually respond to, i.e. if it’s a static image, the user will be exposed to more static images in future.
Again, further evidence that understanding your customers, rather than countless followers is the winning formula.
EVOLVING FROM LUKE-WARM ‘LIKES’ TO LEGENDARY STATUS
You don’t have to dismiss vanity metrics – use them to measure sentiment and brand awareness alongside valuable content, as they still play their part in understanding customer behaviour. But remember to invest in a deeper understanding, by producing consistently engaging content which is evaluated with the right tools, over long periods of time.
Only then will you graduate from jam sessions in your garage to rock and roll legend, suitably chased by mobs of fans.
Is your band looking for a new tour manager? We can help elevate your brand and ensure you are engaging with true fans – contact us today.