Are Vanity Metrics Making You Do Stupid Things?

Written by Jo Seward: Digital marketing manager.
· 4 minute read

Vanity metrics look great on paper, but they don’t necessary mean anything. They can make business owners (and some marketers) feel good, and that can result in some bad decisions in an aim to try and grow these numbers.

Are vanity metrics making you do any of the following? If so, think again…

Buy Followers?

Social media followers are there in black and white for everyone to see. We can instantly see how many ‘likes’ a facebook page has, how many twitter / Instagram / LinkedIn followers a business profile has, and we automatically assume that higher volumes equal success.

For that reason, businesses seek followers in unnatural ways. They want big numbers to scare their competitors and impress the potential customer. It’s all vanity.

Social media platforms have made it very easy for businesses to quickly increase their following through advertising, but this can result in fake followers, ‘bots’, and generally a lot of people who aren’t genuinely interested in your brand. The vast majority of your new followers will be of no value to your bottom line.

It’s easy to see why businesses can get hung up on their social following – it’s a first impression for many. But it’s essentially a metric that doesn’t matter all that much. As always it’s quality over quantity – share great content, keep your audience engaged and you’ll see a natural uplift in no time.

Write Rubbish Content?

Ranking on page 1 for ‘trophy’ keywords can be a top KPI for many businesses, and this can make result in some low quality / underhand tactics being carried out to try and make this happen.

We all know that search engines like regular content, but writing content for content’s sake isn’t the way to go about increasing search presence. The same goes for backlinks – gone are the days of building heavily anchor texted links from low authority sites in an attempt to reach page 1.

Write for your audience, not Google. Yes, search engines like regular content, but if you’re sacrificing quality for volume it could be detrimental in the long run.

At the end of the day are you even chasing after the right keywords? Are they generating the right kind of business? Or is this just another vanity metric that isn’t all that important? You can read all about the importance of keyword rankings here.


More visitors doesn’t always equal more business. Especially if you’re driving traffic to your website through misleading titles and headlines.

Clickbait has recently become an extremely popular method of generating traffic, but not only can it annoy those who got sucked in, it also tends to drive extremely low quality traffic. Visitors are simply ‘intrigued’, and it’s no way to build up a genuinely interested and relevant audience.

It’s only going to end up in a useless spike in traffic that is simply feeding a vanity metric. It’s unlikely to make any difference to return on investment.

There’s an art to creating impactful headlines and titles that really sell the article, without it becoming dishonest and misleading. That way, you’ll drive valuable traffic that could potentially turn into customers in the long run.

That’s not to say that social media followers, rankings and traffic are worthless, it’s about growing these metrics the right way and for the right reasons.

Focus on actionable metrics

Actionable metrics are those that translate into something useful. Numbers that will help us make decisions and ultimately achieve business goals.

Delve deep into your conversions and see where they are coming from. Find out which products / services are making you money, see exactly how your visitors are engaging with your site and run tests that will give provide valuable business insights.

Vanity metrics might make you feel great, but they won’t do much for your bottom line.

If you’d like a hand devising a digital strategy based on actionable metrics, just give us call.