Posted by Kristine Jacobson

In a world where “going viral” can be a good thing, it’s important to remember that a piece of content receiving a large number of likes and shares on social media isn’t necessarily going to bring you anything but an ego boost and a flash of fame.

Those likes and shares are considered vanity metrics – good for monitoring brand awareness or sentiment but are not the valuable metrics you need to show true impact and return on investment for your social media production.

Examples of Vanity Metrics:

  • Content views
  • Followers
  • Likes
  • Downloads

Vanity metrics are easy to track and can look impressive. It’s great to celebrate increased numbers on social media and they are important measurements for brand awareness, optimizing campaigns and their target audience, and testing reactions. They are also free and easy to gather and understand.

But these values can be different from platform to platform. Shares on LinkedIn are not the same value as retweets on Twitter. And it’s also important to keep in mind that while people may be liking and sharing your content – is it for the reason you hoped for? Or has the message been altered by the audience in a negative way? In that case, higher numbers are not a reason to celebrate.

Because vanity metrics can be bought and interpreted in misleading ways, they should be avoided when measuring the true value of your social media campaigns and planning future content.

Use metrics that show ROI

One common pain point for marketers is showing leadership the ROI on social media campaigns. It can be tempting to impress the boss with green arrows showing increased followers and likes. But it doesn’t answer the question: how does this translate to reaching our goals as a company?

To answer that, you need analytics that show the value of your content. These are actionable metrics that are paired with a company goal or objective.

Examples of Actionable Metrics:

  • Repeat pageviews
  • Visitor recency
  • Number of content comments
  • Content shares
  • Conversion rates

Actionable metrics show how content correlates to results, such as number of sales or new clients. It takes time to gather this data and see the true picture (could be a year or more) while thoroughly assessing the customer journey.

Tracking metrics

Tracking metrics in a simple spreadsheet works well for those who have only a few platforms and goals to measure. But when these begin to grow, it may be time to consider purchasing software or using online programs to maintain a consistent tracking system.

Social Media Analytics Resources:

Platforms evolve quickly and make changes to how they report and monitor analytics. It’s important to stay up to date and adapt your tracking methods when new data is presented in new ways.

Don’t stop at the tip of the iceberg

Vanity metrics are the tip of the iceberg when it comes to analyzing social media impact. Know your audience and create content that is relevant and valuable. Pair specific business goals with the metrics you aim to obtain, set timelines for these goals, and maintain consistent and thorough monitoring. You will see ROI and still enjoy the rush of likes and follows as your social media campaigns become successful.

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Kristine Jacobson

Kristine Jacobson

Kristine Jacobson has more than 25 years of marketing and communications experience with notable corporate leaders as well as emerging market contenders. She offers expert marketing strategy with a touch of creative flair. Her extensive knowledge of strategic marketing, marketing plan execution, and branding illuminate the big picture without losing sight of the details.