Vanity Metrics – the marketing equivalent of flattery

As marketeers we obviously all want to see our campaigns being well received and successful in reach, but is there a risk that we are being unintentionally mislead by simply not delving deep enough into the metrics we see?

There is no question that we can now access a plethora of data on social media activity, but the majority of the figures which are presented to us first most probably fall into the category of ‘vanity metrics’ and the warm fuzzy feeling of success they provide may not be such a true representation of what’s actually been going on.

Vanity metrics, as the title suggests, are very flattering, usually flashy, analytics which tend to shout out in bold as we log in to our social media accounts. The data they cover includes social media followers, page views and subscribers – all things we want to know about, but can the figures be truly useful in the shaping of future campaigns? Sadly, most probably not.

Facebook likes are a very good example of vanity graphics. Engagement rates for branded pages have been on a steady decline (approximately 20% decrease last year alone) and the excitement to be gained by having a high number of ‘likes’ may not be quite as justified as it once was. Users of Facebook are increasingly bombarded with more and more content and the consequence is that the time spent consuming each individual post is dwindling; a reader may take a second or two to ‘like’ your particular post, but that does not guarantee any further interest and the probability of returning to your page is low.

Counting number of followers on Twitter can also lead to a false impression on how well your company or products are reaching out to your target market. The reasons people follow on Twitter are varied and seldom directly relate to how they feel about you or your company – the chances are they perhaps saw you as being ‘useful’ to them either to impress a friend or colleague or indeed to have you follow them in return, maybe even to market to you!

These are just two examples of the kind of metrics we can potentially see as more positive than they might actually be. Other ‘attention diversions’ include Blog post views and email opens; the common theme amongst all of these metrics is that they provide just a very small glance of the true picture and should not in themselves be a cause to pat ourselves on the back or rest-assured that our marketing efforts are in fact hitting the target.

The good news is that there are more sophisticated analytical tools at our disposal to allow a deeper drilling into the figures, providing a greater insight into the level of engagement following the initial ‘like’, ‘follow’ or ‘open’. A small period of time spent studying the information will give a much truer picture of how a target market is reacting to what you are saying – for example how they have responded to one post vs another and how they are engaging with you compared to your competitors. With this information at hand it is possible to make more informed decisions on future campaigns and ensure that marketing spend is directed where it will be most effective.

AT RDZ PR we present the most accurate reflection of how a campaign has been received and will use every tool available to do this – this may not always make things look quite as favourable as they did at first glance, but we believe that our clients want facts rather than flattery on which to base future spend calculations.

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Rachel Hargrave

Rachel has over 30 years of local, regional, national and international communications experience and expertise across a wide variety of clients including FTSE 100 companies, SMEs, micro businesses and start-ups. She also has extensive charity, Not-For-Profit and Community Interest Company experience and happily offers clients working in these areas a 50% discount on all RDZ PR rates.

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