Vanity Metrics often indicate popularity or reach, referring to very simple metrics used to measure success related to ego and awareness, instead of actual business results.
Using likes and comments to measure success of a Facebook page is an example of a vanity metric; a more effective metric would be website referral traffic. Is the Facebook page driving traffic to your website, and is that traffic converting into something meaningful, such as email subscribers or sales?
Vanity metrics often attempt to quantify audience growth, reach or awareness, but do not go to the second level of connecting those metrics to specific business growth or revenue.
Why don’t we like vanity metrics?
Because they are based on popularity, instead of something more useful. Popularity is not important to a business looking for budget ROI. What’s driving REVENUE? What’s not driving revenue, meaning it is a waste of time, staff resources and money? Understanding the difference is important.
Most marketing and PR professionals track vanity metrics because they are simple. Following through to identify and track ROI (return-on-investment) on a more sophisticated level is difficult and takes cross-channel cooperation.