What are vanity metrics?

Buckle up, a lot of information coming at you! I could talk about analytics and proving social ROI for hours (but I won't unless you ask me to). I could even counter-argue myself through most of what I'm about to type. Why? Well because with social media there is never a one-size-fits-all strategy. Depending on the company, the brand, and the goals it's all going to domino affect and change. But let's start with the basics. 

Number of Followers
With the way that algorithms work across the social world these days - it's possible to have tens-of-thousands of followers and zero engagement. It's possible that you could have 26K followers and not a single person would see it in their newsfeed. Why? The algorithms are designed to show the user the content they want to see, it's based on participation on your page. If someone likes your page and then decides to never pause on your content, like your images, comment on your video - they will slowly stop seeing your posts in their feed because the social channel they're on assumes they are not interested in your content. 

So keep that in mind as you move forward, the most important thing you can focus on with new followers and likes, is to retain their interest. Make sure that the followers you're gaining are genuine and interested in what you have to offer. If they're liking or commenting, engage with them to see if they then start participating more. Create a community, not a social media page.

Number of Likes
Go on a social media field trip with me for this one. Think about traditional advertising on your TV screen. You watch 2 (or more) hours of TV a day and in those hours you are fed let's say 15 advertisements or business messaging. Of those 15, you probably in your head connected to or thought strongly about say seven of them. Now, here's the good part, of those seven - how many did you go on to talk about with friends, learn more information on the brand, purchase products, etc? I'm going to go on the wild side and say one, two maximum....maybe even zero?

Think about likes as those seven advertisements that you well, for lack of better words, liked. You thought they were cool as you were mindlessly watching TV (scrolling through your newsfeed) but you really didn't get a big impression of the brand engraved into your mind, did you? No, you didn't. And that's how social media likes work. 

Field trip over, head home now!

Number of Page Views
If I'm completely honest, this one I tend to bounce around with professionally. Sometimes page views can tell you a lot and sometimes page views can tell you a lot of nothing. I think my argument here is that there is just much more valuable metrics to be following when it comes to your website: conversion, repeat visitors, bounce rate, etc. 

People landing on your page 100K times a month, referred from social media, great! And what percent of those sessions are repeat visitors? Are they converting? Are they landing on the page and running away within seconds because they realize they're not getting what they were looking for? These are the questions you should be focused on. 

I think that's where my love-hate comes from with Page Views. That number, whether it's low or high, should actually open a can of worms for you if you're doing it right. You should be curious to figure out what happens beyond the page view and what that story tells. A page view number on its own is a dud but taking the time to fully analyze all the follow-up questions that come after that, strategic. 

So what metrics matter? Start with engagement. 
Engagement will help you understand what kind of community you are building and how your followers are reacting to your content. You want people to share, comment, tag or mention their friends. These are all actions that take more than two seconds of time and will leave impactful impressions on your followers. Try to get more comments and shares every month, without enticement (like a contest), and that's when you truly know your content marketing is dialed-in and that the voice you're using to talk to your community is what they want to hear.

After engagement, focus on your goals and run reports on analytics that are going to help you understand if you're a little bit closer to reaching those goals. Is your KPI sales? Content marketing, engagement, and conversion. Is your KPI brand awareness? Engagement and influencer marketing. 

Julie Maden