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Don't Fall for Vanity Metrics When Measuring Social Media ROI

by Lilach Bullock  |  
May 2, 2016
  |  4,878 views

Marketers know that social media is one of the most efficient and cost-effective ways to market their wares and bolster their brands. However, the effects of social media are often hard to quantify, and marketers can have a hard time explaining exactly what they have achieved using digital channels.

Unfortunately, often no direct link exists between a quality social media marketing campaign and improved sales and revenue. But that does not mean that an important (albeit indirect) link doesn't exist.

CEOs and other C-suite executives like to be confronted with cold, hard facts and figures when they assess the value of any marketing technique. And social media is no different. The trouble is that C-level executives often have a crude understanding of social media. So, some of the terms social media marketers like to use when explaining the effects of their campaign (such as "engagement," "online presence," and "click-through rate") are often dismissed as wishy-washy faux proofs.

Marketers who find themselves in this position can either:

  • Learn to translate their achievements into C-suite-friendly language
  • Help their superiors gain a better understanding of what social media is and how it is best assessed

In my experience, Option A is almost universally preferable. Bosses often don't have the time or inclination to learn about social media.


However, Option B, if possible, is important, too. By imparting a good understanding of what social media is and how it is advantageous, social media marketers can speak about what they've achieved in their own words. So, after you've wowed your boss, make sure you seize the moment and explain social media in general.

Vanity Metrics vs. Actionable Metrics

Vanity metrics make you feel as though you are succeeding when perhaps you're not. Therefore, what counts as a vanity metric depends as what you define as success.


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Lilach Bullock is a social media marketing consultant, trainer, and highly regarded speaker.

LinkedIn: Lilach Bullock

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