You’ve been told that social media marketing will bring you money. You go out and create an Instagram account, a Facebook Page, a Twitter account and you start creating. One of your posts go viral.

And then your revenues remain the same.

What’s going on? You got hundreds of shares on that Facebook post. Why aren’t they pouring into your eCommerce store and buying up all your stuff?

You might have fallen victim to the classic marketing blunder. Vanity metrics.

Here’s what they are and why you should focus on other metrics instead.

What Are Vanity Metrics?

Vanity metrics are impressions like comments, followers, shares, open rates, views, likes, traffic, etc. You might know these as engagement metrics. And there’s nothing wrong with measuring them.

The only problem is, they don’t actually represent money. They only represent engagement. And if people aren’t moving down your marketing funnel, these metrics are useless. They could even be a distraction from what’s causing you to lose money.

Marketing writers like me use statistics to justify vanity metrics all the time. Did you know that 90% of marketers say their social media marketing has increased their exposure and 75% say social media has increased their traffic?

Great! But what has all that done for their bottom line? How much are they spending per impression? And how much are they getting in return on those impressions?

Here are a few vanity metrics people often measure and what you can measure to more effectively understand what your marketing is doing for your business.

Page Likes on Facebook

Facebook is the next MySpace. Generation Z is entirely absent there. Just like Millenials eventually abandoned MySpace for Facebook when they realized their parents couldn’t access it.

But for now, it’s still a thriving place to reach anyone else.

But Page Likes don’t mean money. They only mean your content might end up on someone’s feed. They might see it. They might engage with it.

EdgeRank Score for SEO

While engagement still doesn’t account for actual dollars, it might show you how well your social signals are influencing your SEO. In Facebook’s Insights, this used to be called EdgeRank.

EdgeRank was arguably simpler than what we have today. Facebook is becoming almost as complicated as Google. And yet, a few things remain you can measure.

Affinity, time decay, and weight are still important. And you should use those exclusively when measuring Facebook engagement.

Affinity is the most important. It measures how “close” a user is to the brand or person. It’s a lot like how Facebook measures “close friends” and “acquaintances” with personal accounts.

But even this metric can be a bit wonky when it comes to predicting the success of a post. Let’s say your post on the top ten calendar template sites is popular with your audience, say 100 people see it and 90 people interact with it, Facebook will push it to the rest of your followers who might not have received it originally.

But again, if none of these metrics lead to dollars in your pocket are they really useful? You’ll need to compare these metrics to your actual income and how much you’re spending on marketing to find out if there is a correlation and causation in your data.

By Ben Mattice

Benjamin Mattice is a freelance writer/editor, horror and sci-fi writer, SEO and affiliate marketing newbie, dog wrestler, cat wrangler, capoeirista, and long distance runner. He lives in the Palouse with his wife, three dogs, two cats, and two rats. Yes, that would probably be considered a mini-zoo.