Vanity Metrics Are Meaningless

Niraj Sharma |
 01/21/20 |
4 min read

Vanity Metrics Are Meaningless

With the social analytics industry offering a push toward real-time models where information is available as fast as it comes out on channels, leading agencies are seeking solutions that offer predictive analytics as well. And they’re finding them. They know that vanity metrics are pretty meaningless and have found tangible insight that really moves the needle for brands.

As Brian Mossop, Sr Vice President, Insights and Analytics at FleishmanHillard shared at NetBase Live, a good analyst is skilled at telling stories with data. NetBase helps his team transform insight into meaningful metrics that support a variety of purposes, from crisis management and response to figuring out success on campaigns and events:

With transparent insight, they can accurately:

  • Measure effectiveness and efficiency
  • Understand impact on certain audience groups
  • And compare Campaign A to Campaign B in a meaningful fashion

Vanity metrics are enticing though. They offer big numbers that every client wants to see – mostly because they haven’t been properly briefed around context. And the accuracy that comes with understanding a brand’s story in context.

Putting Brand Story Insight into Context

Brands really need to understand three core things:

  • What is their brand story?
  • What does the audience want to hear?
  • And how are media telling that story? This could be in the form of reporters writing about that, or people posting on social media.

Understanding these three priority areas are is best accomplished with a visualization of it. A way to identify where these needs intersect to decide on the best path forward:

identifying where brand, media and audience needs intersect to capture meaningful metrics

Combining what the client or the brand wants to say, what the audience cares about, and what the agenda of the media platform – we get to the center of it all, where traction happens.

That intersection is where you move towards true real-time and predictive capabilities. They’re the outputs you see defined above. And these outputs span issues, perception changes and overall impact on business growth.

But wait, what happens here exactly? What’s measured and how to brands move forward with this insight? Let’s break it down a bit more to help you see it.

Effectiveness, Efficiency & Impact

When talking to clients about how effective a campaign is, it’s important to move beyond likes and impressions – and even beyond engagement metrics. With social analytics insight, agencies are able to normalize data to create a meaningful effectiveness score. It captures meaningful actions (likes, favorites, shares, retweets and comments) and divides it by opportunities for engagements (impressions associated with those meaningful actions) to reach this effectiveness score.

The resulting score makes campaign comparisons not only possible, but super informative.

developing an effectiveness score to combat meaningless vanity metrics

Much like the effectiveness measure, efficiency normalizes the score as well – but by spend. It’s having the ability to reframe an intangible talking point so something clients can see.

Reframing the Conversation

Instead of focusing on cost per engagement in the context of “moving from 2 cents to 4 cents” which feels pretty abstract, agencies can offer much more meaningful metrics. Changing that data point to “capturing 25 to 50 engagements per $1 USD” makes a huge difference. It helps clients understand where their money is going – and whether or not it’s working as expected.

And then there’s audience impact. This is where things get complicated and you really need an in-person demo to understand, but we’ll try to hit the high points for you!

Defining audiences can happen any number of ways in NetBase, one of which is through themes.

For example, imagine we’re targeting C-suite members. We would create a theme in NetBase that is basically a whitelist of people who identify in the C-suite in their Twitter bio. So, they are calling themselves CEO, CIO, Chief Technology Officer, Chief Scientific Officer. We’ve made a robust theme and pulled in all the people who self-identify in that way.

audience impact example, showing how to transform vanity metrics into insight that matters

And then we measure (as we did above) for campaign effectiveness and efficiency as it relates to this specific demographic. Running through the same exercise with influencers in that category is always illuminating well, often more so than whatever target demographic you’ve selected to explore. Here’s why: influencers offer unpredictable insight, and you’re likely to turn up new segments you never would have considered for your brand otherwise. It’s exciting, for sure.

There’s also AI Studio’s automated theme discovery to explore and enhance your predictive marketing efforts, but we’ll save that for another day!

Getting the Full Story on Vanity Metrics

This was really a quick summary of a much larger presentation exploring predictive marketing and how to move beyond vanity metrics. And you now want to know more, of course; right? Who wouldn’t?

Brian will be presenting about this along with our own CMO, Paige Leidig, at our complementary NetBase World Tour events in San Francisco, Seattle and San Diego on January 28, 29 and 30. Be sure to RSVP, so we can save a spot for you. There’s so much to share around the latest next generation AI advances. Join us to learn the many ways that tops agencies and brands are discovering insight and monitoring trends to drive business impact!

And if you can’t make it, be sure to reach out for a personalized demo. Hope to see you there!

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