Why businesses should focus on actionable metrics rather than vanity metrics on social media

Published: November 2, 2018 12:37 AM

Modern-day marketers will vouch that the most valuable brand-buyer relations are built on loyalty and patronage by subscribers.

But the big picture might just display a whole lot of clicks with no conversions, which is when you realise that all these numbers, efforts and a lot of funds have gone in vain.


By Neena Dasgupta 

Modern-day marketers will vouch that the most valuable brand-buyer relations are built on loyalty and patronage by subscribers. Surprisingly, many companies still depend on reach, impressions, likes and followers while measuring the company-customer success. But the big picture might just display a whole lot of clicks with no conversions, which is when you realise that all these numbers, efforts and a lot of funds have gone in vain. This is probably another reason why they are called ‘vanity metrics’.

Making an ‘impression’
Social media followers and likes rarely affect revenue; in fact, they burn a hole in your pocket. Take a classic vanity metric such as a ‘like’ on a post. You might have a thousand likes but it doesn’t do anything when it comes to revenue. You may earn brilliant social media success one month, but in the next, not so much. The spike could probably be owing to an influencer activity or a smart PR strategy. Are your followers investing in your product/service offline or are they just visiting your page for contests and freebies?

Vanity metrics look good only on paper. For example, e-mail subscriptions, the number of sales leads and marketing spends are all vanity metrics. Actionable metrics, on the other hand, are numbers that tie to a specific or repeatable task that you can leverage to attain your business goals, such as long-term customer value, social media referrals and return on investment. Engagements like comments and mentions, that lead to greater brand awareness and referrals truly reveal consumer behaviour.

The fact is, you can’t be overwhelmed by numbers and turn a blind eye to consumer behaviour, interests and other factors that really matter. Marketers need to understand their audiences at a more granular level, and know how technology has impacted their desires, fears, needs and interests. This brings us to psychographics. Psychographic data includes your consumer’s habits, hobbies, spending habits, values and more. It equips you with insights about who is investing in your brand and their level of engagement. While vanity metrics give us a sense of comfort, it is time to accept that your audience is people looking to establish a deeper connect with your brand. A few guidelines: Don’t lose sight of your consumers: While creating content that caters to clients’ unique traits, needs, interests and attitudes, are you doing enough to create brand loyalty and goodwill? The real question is, ‘How does one achieve these actionables?’
n Understand consumer psyche:
Conduct extensive qualitative and quantitative research to understand consumer psychology; and then create psychographic profiles or archetypes to help guide your content marketing efforts.
n Content topics and formats: Analyse each archetype to understand their preferences. Personalised content resonates with fans at a much deeper level and can help generate better leads.
n A/B testing: The same content is shared with two different sets of audiences to study which one responds better.
n Holistic data: Ardent fans and brand loyalists may engage with you via different platforms, further converting to sales. Understand which platform leads to conversions. You can then choose to invest in that particular one instead of following the herd mentality and bombarding your clientele across every platform possible.
According to a Smart Insights report, globally, out of the 100% traffic that an e-commerce website generates, a mere 2.8% eventually transacts on the site. This clearly sums up the point we are trying to make. Those one million likes and followers aren’t doing us any good, are they?

The author is director & CEO, Zirca Digital Solutions

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