Vanity Numbers and Why You Should Ignore Them

We all know that social media is a must when it comes to connecting with people and it has been engrained in our heads that the larger your follower base, the more people you can potentially reach. The struggle is real to grow these numbers, so much so that hashtags such as "likeforlike" and "follow4follow" are currently some of the most popular on Instagram! We've all fallen victim to obsessing over "the numbers", but today we're here to say goodbye to vanity numbers and here's why...

Okay, we'll admit it – everyone gets wrapped up in vanity numbers from time to time. Likes, followers, we get it – you want them. But are these the social media metrics you should REALLY be focused on? We think not! Click through to learn why.

What is a "Vanity Number?"

Vanity numbers are those unrealistic numbers we (yes, even us sometimes) become fixated on with our social media accounts. From the amount of followers we have, to those coveted "double taps", likes, favorites, and so on, these narcissistic numbers have become the obsession of every selfie queen, blogger babe, and creative alike.

artwork by Banksy

Why You Should Ignore Them

As much as we'd like to believe that these numbers are a direct measure of success, the truth is they aren't — sorry Banksy! Not only can vanity numbers be misleading, but they also fail to measure the intangible benefits that you have to offer (which are just as important as the tangible!). Because these numbers are not a direct representation of how successful your business or blog is communicating, we make the conscious decision to focus on other numbers.

Quality over Quantity

All that's to say some numbers do matter, like engagement rates, traffic to your content, and reach, just to name a few. However, the trick is to understand that these numbers aren't everything! Rather than obsessing over the amount of likes a post generates, or how many comments a blog post receives, start to focus on the quality of each interaction.

Reach represents the number of individuals who has been exposed to your content, whereas engagement rates refer to a percentage of interaction with the content. Engagement can be anything in the form of a like, comment, share, favorite, and so on. To calculate the engagement rate, you simply divide the reach (amount of people who saw your post) by the number of times people interacted on your post (engagement) and times that value by 100.

Engagement/Reach = _______ x 100 = engagement rate

322 ÷ 448 = .718 x 100 = 71.87 %

Lucky for us, the majority of social media networks calculate these numbers for us (phew!). Like Iconosquare for Instagram, Insights for Facebook (which you can use the calculation above), and Analytics for Twitter and Pinterest.

These metrics are important to track because they allow you to measure the growth and performance of your social networks. They also give you an idea of what content your viewers enjoy the most — a key aspect of increasing engagement on your traffic!

Let's say you write a blog post on "How to Take the Perfect Instagram Picture", and you receive ten comments from your fellow readers. Seven of those ask you to check out their own blog and barely address the content of your post. Three of the comments genuinely respond to your post, even sharing how your tips helped better their Instagram accounts. Thought it appears you have ten comments, only three of those are valued (the rest can even be considered spam!) Begin to start differentiating spam-like interactions from the valued ones and focus your energy on engaging with the latter, for they are the one's you are truly impacting!

Remember, vanity numbers aren't completely meaningless, just don't let them mislead you!