Let’s kill vanity metrics

knife

Photo: Wimena Kane (CC)

Many companies are chasing likes, views and shares for their social media accounts. Many social media managers are promising big numbers for organic and paid social reach, as are agencies.

They’re having the wrong conversation. And they’ve been having it for years.

It isn’t helping matters when Facebook has lied about its own numbers, specifically video ad views. Even the numbers we use to pretend we’re advancing our social media marketing campaigns aren’t reliable.

Leaders should cut off funding for these ego-driven exercises in vanity metrics. They should demand clear analytics reporting and tie them to specific business goals.

That means a deeper understanding of costs. It costs time and money to set up campaigns, to create social media guidelines, to monitor for negative comments, to test which elements work, to build an audience.

That means an investment in understanding how clicks and views lead to conversions. For example, each new prospect costs $15 to acquire, and 20 percent of those prospects spend an average of $183 per transaction.

That means defining desired outcomes instead of defaulting to whatever’s shiniest in social media metrics. Those goals can include an increase in sales revenue, a decrease in customer complaints and returns, more foot traffic in stores and so on.

It’s an uphill battle asking companies to drop their addiction to vanity metrics. I’ve had clients ask to buy Facebook followers. I’ve seen agencies promise all the things that don’t matter, but feel good at the moment. I’ve watched the experts shift focus back to likes and engagement with no meaningful results other than to drain the budget completely.

Until brands kick their addiction to vanity metrics, they can’t grow their business using social media.

Let’s kill those mystical numbers and dig into real tactics that yield positive results for our companies.

All else is self-congratulatory nonsense.

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About Wade Kwon

Wade Kwon is conference director for Y'all Connect. See his full bio.