Digital Marketing: Move over Vanity Metrics, integrate social media ROI

Digital Marketing: Move over Vanity Metrics, integrate social media ROI

social media ROI vanity metrics

Organization’s across the globe are now gradually beginning to take digital marketing social media’s ‘Return on Investment (ROI) seriously.

Recently, there was a massive outburst on social media at an organization which proudly announced with a full page advertisement on a print media (newspaper) about how they hit “X Number of LIKES on FACEBOOK”.

On similar lines, we have seen brands boast of hits, impressions, likes, followers, etc too which again, on it’s own do not truly showcase the brand’s digital presence or actual reach. Why?


  • Fake LIKESThough LOVE still can’t be bought (or am I being too naive on this?) Anyway, Likes can be bought from sites! – Many organizations fall prey to such tactics wherein either they themselves or the agencies hired by them purchase LIKES that are FAKE id’s. These are merely to boost the “social look” of their brand pages on social networking sites. Any of us could just look at such pages and make out which brand page has more “fake LIKES”, for eg. When you look at these facebook pages, you can clearly see that the page has thousands or lakhs or millions of likes and the actual number of people engaging with the page and or their posts will be minuscule across almost every post. Now, if the brand pages are B2B, they can still be excused to some extent, but definitely not for B2C brands, since their connect needs to be directly and in real-time with their customers and prospects at all time.

facebook likes

  • Fake Followers: ‘Fake it, till you make it’ is a strict NO for followers: As we discussed above, it’s definitely not advisable to “BUY” them; in this case, “Fake FOLLOWERS”. Here again, having 25-35% INACTIVE followers is considered to be fine or excusable (since many users create their twitter handles but end up never using it actively), but anything beyond that percentage or number would raise a doubt about your BRAND having purchased followers (which again are Fake and by definition would amount to SPAM following on your account’s credibility). Check out TwitterAudit site that will enable you to add a twitter handle and check its followers ‘REAL and FAKE Credentials’. If you see a brand with lower than 60% as it’s Twitter audit score, then you as a brand owner have something to worry about! There are also sites like crowdfire which also allow you to unfollow or at least have a look at this inactive following list. Also, even if you have a huge followers list but low engagement, that is again a sign for you to re-think your strategy.

pablo (9)

  • Social media contests: Who’s really winning here? Many of these contests at times are rigged right from the start by those conducting the contest and sadly it goes unnoticed. For eg, those participating in the contests would mostly be working with the contest organizer and will end up eventually taking home the prizes too. What is worse is the fake followers and conversations which shoot-up during that contest period and vividly take a quick fall within a week of the contest getting over. This is growing like an epidemic in the world of digital marketing. Most of the times, this happens because, brand’s don’t ask themselves: WHY AM I Really conducting this contest? How is it going to help my Brand? If this backfires in any way, what do I do?

pablo (10)

  • Website hits or site traffic: Here again, site traffic can be purchased. So what You,as a BRAND or an Organization need to track is, the ‘relevance’ of these visitors, as in demographics, are they your target audience? in terms of age group, location, interests etc. You could integrate GOOGLE ANALYTICS for this on your site right from day one!
  • Social media Influencers: Imagine having a tech blogger or an automobile influencer attending your Fashion and or Lifestyle event or imagine a food blogger attending an automobile launch. Make sure the influencers you hire to promote your brand have interest and understand something about your brand, product and industry. Just because someone has a huge number of followers or likes on facebook, twitter, instagram etc does not mean, he or she is the right influencer for your brand. You could use Twitter insights and analytics, facebook insights etc to understand these influencers much better. Have a look at their Blog posts and their tweets etc to understand their conversations, user engagement and interests better. Also, many times, such contests and polls need to have a backup policy in case something goes wrong. Brand monitoring is a core aspect when it comes to social media and digital marketing. 
  • Million Emails sent: Bulk SMS sent: Email Marketing, Bulk SMS, Adding to Facebook and or Whatsapp group LIST: Many times brands ask agencies or email marketers to send bulk emails or bulk SMS about their news and or offers. On similar lines they also ask for users to be added to a certain group of their’s on facebook or whatsapp etc. This is wrong at various levels. Firstly, the bulk Email or much worse, Bulk SMS is being sent to people from your end who have not authorized your organization to contact them with offers, so what you are really doing to them as a brand is SPAMMING them. Same for facebook groups and whatsapp groups. Do not add random users just because someone has their contact list. Rather build a list on your site using email subscription options so that you have authentic users who are not only interested in your brand, product and or service, but have also authorized you to reach them. 
  • Yay! We are TRENDING: This is yet another desperate attempt by brands, to showcase that they are Trending. I have two responses to it. Firstly Kudos for trending! Secondly, okay, noted, you, as a BRAND are trending, so …. what NOW! And can this be bought? Well, you could pay influencers to talk about your brand with your approved “HASHTAG” which will make you trend, but that’s like your MOM saying to your neighbor that her kid is awesome! Ask yourself, how will this help your users and stakeholders. Do you have a backup policy in case something goes wrong? If you are TRENDING, how will you empower your brand and your end users and how long with this sustain, in terms of increased conversations and followers engaging with your brand?

Having Vanity Metrics on Social media is fine Only till you are clear that it is not really about YOU!

Some finer points:

  • Never ask influencers, bloggers to do something for FREE. It not only disrespects their know-how and expertise in their field, but also devalues your BRAND!
  • Never, as an influencer encourage brands to get something done for them for free (because, firstly, they as an agency are for sure making millions out of it and secondly, don’t do it, unless of course, you just need to have some fun or catch a break and you are totally cool with it).
  • If you are sharing about X number of impressions on Twitter from an event, do share tweets about how users also engaged with your brand, share information about their conversations and of course, if it empowers your brand to sell too, nothing like it.
  • Likes, Followers, Hits etc are not necessarily depicting your brand’s reach and presence online. Your customers and or prospects engaging into conversations is a power sign of it!
  • Use Social media analytic tools, google analytics, twitter analytics and insights, facebook insights etc to help you understand your users much better. There is a massive information overload, so ensure to only check those metrics which are valid and relevant for your brand.
  • Always remember, Social Media is not about hits, likes or follows. It was, is and will always be about PEOPLE. PEOPLE buy from PEOPLE they trust, HUMANIZE Your BRAND.

Over the past six years, we have shared our Case studies on Digital marketing and social media ROI across industries and countries (Click Here to have a look & download them for free) from our Digital agency. Also, at our Corporate Training Digital marketing course Workshops, we have shared more details and insights into few of these case studies and shared details on how our digital agency successfully achieves actual sales ROI and other valuable returns for brands and organizations’s over the years.

The case studies that are discussed in these scenarios are often ROI based case studies which look into achieving actual Sales, quality enquiries, high engagement with brand conversations in real-time followed by conversions, event registrations and or even event check-ins, app downloads, book and ebook sales, footfalls and increase in over the counter sales at restaurants, retail and lifestyle stores, etc.

In other words, these would be results which are in one way or another generating real revenue for brands.

INTERESTED in getting a custom designed Digital Marketing Social Media ROI campaign for your Organization: You can also get a custom Corporate Training schedule designed by the Best Digital Marketing Professional in India -Reach us here NOW for a FREE Quote we would be glad to assist!

Click Here NOW)

digital marketing social media ROI
digital marketing social media ROI campaigns

Do share your views on VANITY METRICS, would love to hear from you.

Have an amazing week ahead.

Let’s connect: Facebook Twitter LinkedIn Social Media Book

Ananth V

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32 thoughts on “Digital Marketing: Move over Vanity Metrics, integrate social media ROI

  1. Hey Ananth: Once again you have hit Bull’s eye and call a spade a spade. Articles like this are definitely needed as the dynamics of influencer marketing are still evolving.I agree with you that asking influencers to work for free is not the right way. Equally true is to engage the right influencers based on niche, verifiable numbers and also engagement level. Unfortunately as of now the trend is to look for the CHEAPEST blogger / influencer available in market and offer a one size fits all solution to clients. A lot of icons in social media marketing soon will be biting dust… is what I feel.. Thanks.. 🙂

    1. Hello Prasad,

      Thank you for your detailed comments. Yes, I completely agree with what you have mentioned. Thanks for taking your time to share your response. Have a wonderful day ahead.
      Be Well

  2. Working for a digital agency last year as the Social Media Head I was asked to sponsor almost everything, from Likes, Posts & Contests for clients on Facebook. Although Facebook has restricted the views so that people use the “sponsor post/page” option more, it still doesn’t feel right, personally. It’s sad how such irrelevant things hold more weight-age than what the company actually is about and its such a waste of money too. It’s like those loafers in college who’d pay to get higher grades in their board exam results.
    One of the website’s I worked for only wanted maximum LIKES on their Facebook Page whereas their website had absolute clutter content.
    I have till date never sponsored a post of mine on Facebook or Instagram. I try marketing the old-fashion way (i.e word of mouth, real sales and real promotions) which is much more reliable and true as the ones who actually are interested in what you sell, are following you.
    But well, not every one wants to be honest and work twice as hard.
    Thank you for writing a post like this, business people do need to know that it ain’t cool to buy everything by money especially when we know how they got those many followers and likes! Hahaha….

    1. Thank you for such an insightful and detailed comment Zainab. Very true and quite sad, as you have rightly expressed, the focus on “irrelevant things” by many brands. I do not blame the agencies or even the brands, because what I have realized is that: Most of the times, brands or those in charge of such decisions are not really aware of what digital marketing can truly deliver and in that pensive state of mind, they end up going for the results they can reach quickly. Similarly, agencies (many times) due to a desperate need of acquiring a client or not losing a client ends up listening to such demands and delivering results which do not really add any value, either to the brand or the consumers or even the agency themselves.
      I guess, with so many ROI based case studies now clearly made available on Digital marketing social media across industries and countries it should be a joint effort of both, the agency and brands slowly to reach out for more than mere likes or followers and focus on true engagement and ROI. More importantly, make brands understand not only how insignificant these fake “buying” process is but also about how much damage they can do to the brands in the long run.
      Thanks again for your wonderful response.
      Have an amazing weekend.
      Be Well

      1. Precisely, very well said!
        You’re most welcome 🙂
        Thank you, have a great day ahead as well.

  3. Dear Sir, it was a great learning experience after I went through the details shared by you. I got lots of insights and also realized about the seriousness of digital marketing vis-a-Vis the tools and requirements of the organization. For the first time ever I came across the word Vanity metrics and also realized it’s seriousness. Thank you so much. Would like to get such beautiful insights from you. Thanks again.

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