Why vanity metrics should be avoided
Updated: Apr 7
In this blog post, I'll explore why vanity metrics are a complete waste of your time and efforts when starting and running your small business and cause more damage than good to your brand.
What does vanity metrics mean?
This is the term used for metrics that don't really have a positive impact on your business. And yet, many small business owners seem to be absolutely preoccupied with them.
For the purpose of this blog post, I'll be specifically referring to the number of followers or connections you have.
How to spot vanity metric chasers
It's pretty easy to spot those accounts which are obsessed with how many followers they have.
They will generally follow or connect with you without any other engagement whatsoever, ie, they don't engage on any of your posts at all, have never interacted with you but follow you anyway. You will be merely one of many accounts they connect with that day.
The tactic here is to connect with as many accounts as they can get away with before Instagram or LinkedIn place restrictions on their ability to follow or connect with people for a short period. They then, within days, will go through and unfollow or disconnect from all those people. It's a throw a net out and see what you catch approach which is completely meaningless to your business success.
These sorts of accounts and business owners are obsessed with getting as many followers or connections as possible and spend absolutely no time filtering who they are connecting with.
Why are vanity metrics damaging to my business?
Growing your audience (number of followers or connections) is of course vital for your business. The more people who see your content, the more chance you have of creating a sales opportunity.
However, if you have 1000s of random followers, who are not your ideal client and they themselves are simply chasing vanity metrics then you will be spending a lot of your valuable time and efforts chasing followers that are never going to spend a penny with your business. Who will never engage on your content and in reality are simply a waste of your efforts.
When you have 1000s or tens of thousands of followers, and you get very little engagement on your content, it's very apparent to those looking that you are not connecting with people who find value in your content. You'll often see accounts with 10k+ followers that get no more than 10 likes and 0 comments on their content. These are accounts that are more concerned with value metrics than actually building an audience of people who will do business with them.
But most importantly, chasing vanity metrics takes time away from you that you could use to focus on creating content of value, connecting with accounts that match your ideal client profile and engaging on their content. Having an audience of followers that genuinely appreciate your content is far more likely to engage with your content and spend money with your business.
A word about reach
Reach in social media terms is the number of people/accounts that your content has been shown to.
It is a common misunderstanding by people who use social media that if you have 500 followers, all 500 will see your content.
I'm afraid this simply is not the case.
Each post you make on social media is only initially shown to a small percentage of your audience. This can range from as little as a fraction of a per cent of your audience number to around 5% of your audience.
So, it stands to reason then, that if you have 1000s of followers, and the majority of them have absolutely no interest in what you post and simply followed you for vanity metric reasons, then you are further damaging your brand and reach by showing your content to people who are not interested in what you have to say and therefore will not engage on your posts.
The way reach is increased on social media is based on the amount of engagement your post gets in the initial few hours after posting it.
For example, let's say you have 1000 followers on Instagram. You make a post and it is shown to 1% of your audience (10 people). If none of them like, comment or otherwise engage on your content, it will not be shown to more people.
If however 2 or 3 of those 10 people like or engage on your content, then it is shown to a larger audience. If those then engage, it's shown to more, etc etc.
So if you have a bunch of vanity metric followers, those initial 10 people who see your content may not engage and therefore your post doesn't get much reach at all.
Focus on your ideal client
Hopefully, by now you are getting the idea that chasing vanity metrics is a complete waste of your time and does more damage to your brand than good?
Chasing vanity metrics not only uses up your valuable time, makes your look brand look desperate and stops your posts from getting any real reach but you also risk getting your account suspended or permanently closed by the platform for being 'spammy'.
So my advice to you is focus your efforts on social media by finding and connecting to those accounts which match your ideal client profile. If you haven't already identified your ideal client, have a read of this post about why it's important to do so.
Yes, you may not grow your audience to 1000s in a matter of days or weeks, but you will grow an audience of people who are actually interested in your products or services and are therefore much more likely to engage on your posts. And more engagement means more reach means more possible sales!
Create content of value
Rather than wasting your time chasing vanity metrics and following/connecting with all and sundry, spend the time saved to concentrate on putting out content that your ideal client would find of value.
My ideal clients are small business owners (under 5 staff) and particularly those who are new to running their own businesses. As a result, I create content like this blog post which I hope will provide my ideal clients with valuable insight on how to correctly use their social media accounts and time.
By creating content that helps your ideal client, they are more likely to follow you on your social media accounts. If you simply post advert after advert it's unlikely you are going to grow a meaningful audience or turn some of your audience into fans.
Content that provides help or tips to your ideal client will inevitably get more engagement which in turn means more people get to see your content.
Think about what pain points your ideal client may have? How does your product or service ease those pain points? What sort of help may your ideal client need?
Stop wasting your time chasing numbers that mean nothing to your bottom line. Having 10k followers which don't engage on your content is more damaging than beneficial to your brand!
Spend your time connecting with your ideal client and creating content of value.
Have patience. Creating a successful business is not an overnight thing and growing your audience will take many MANY months, even years.
What to do now
If you are new to using social media accounts to promote a business, then I offer training on LinkedIn, Pinterest, Instagram and Facebook. I also provide social media and website audits where I will create a report which will provide valuable feedback on how to increase your reach and audience and get the best out of your website and social media presence.
Get in touch via the contact form below and I'll get back to you as soon as possible to discuss how I may be able to assist you in streamlining your time and efforts to enhance your online presence.
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