There is a current obsession among some bloggers to grow fast and furious. I can recall when we started our first nursing blog and then Humble & Whole, that we wanted more than anything to expand our reach.
In the slow and humble beginning, you just want a fresh set of eyes on your blog and social media posts. You believe that you have noteworthy information to share with the world and want to grow the community on your blog and social media networks as quickly as possible.
Keep reading to learn why you need to stop obsessing over your follower count, page views, and likes, and shift your attention to the engagement rates of your blog and social media networks.
Vanity Metrics are a Top Source of Frustration
What we have noticed is that new and established bloggers alike are letting vanity metrics cause frustration.
What are vanity metrics? The amount of followers, likes, and page views that a blog or social media account has.
But aren’t these metrics significant?
Yes...to a certain extent.
There is nothing wrong with desiring to expand your reach. The mission and vision of your brand are worth sharing with the world. As long as you are consistent, implementing your social media strategy, and continuing to produce high quality content, your blog and social media networks will grow. There is no need to race others.
Vanity metrics have become both a top source of inspiration and disappointment among bloggers.
For example, you can’t search social media tips on Pinterest without seeing the boisterous headlines: "How I grew 'x' followers in 'y' months."
Articles like these can be the jumpstart you need to get serious about your social media strategy because you have been exposed to the possibility of abundance in a short time.
However, disappointment can set in when your blog and social media networks do not grow as quickly as other bloggers and business owners. You may begin to view your success as accomplishing the same milestone in the same or less amount of time.
This is the greatest frustration and disappointment we see among bloggers and business owners in Facebook Groups. There is such a hunger to grow as quickly as someone else did.
Vanity Metrics are Shallow Indicators of Success
Success isn’t how big or how fast you grow your following or page views. Vanity metrics can and will fluctuate. With vanity metrics as the top priority, there is no surprise why so many bloggers are being pushed to the brink of frustration and want to quit.
Vanity metrics rarely show you what is going on beyond the surface level. And large numbers do not always yield a large return. We have a small following on Pinterest and yet it is our largest referral of traffic on our blog.
This is just one example of why you shouldn’t be obsessed with your follower count on a social media platform:
As you can see, we have less than 700 followers on Pinterest. However, when you take a look at our website traffic so for the month of December, you see that Pinterest was our leading referral of traffic with over 2,000 people coming from Pinterest.
Those 600 followers on Pinterest are not a complete representation of how our content performs. Truthfully, you don't even need thousands of followers on Pinterest in order to get thousands of people to click through to your website.
You don't need a large following to grow your blog traffic, mailing list, or increase your sales. You need an engaged following.
Vanity metrics could also very well be smoke and mirrors. Unfortunately, bloggers and business owners still purchase followers and use tactics that inflate their growth with unengaged people, through the use of the follow for follow method and participating in strict Facebook group threads, or paying for shout outs.
The Power of Engagement over Vanity Metrics
Vanity metrics are not complete indicators of how your content is performing and are starting to lose significance among social media algorithms.
Algorithms of popular social media accounts factor in engagement to boost the visibility of a post.
On Instagram, for example, the amount of likes on a post used to be enough to boost visibility and earn a spot among the top posts of a specific hashtag. This is no longer the case.
Instagram favors posts with a high level of engagement over likes. The top measure of engagement when it comes to Instagram is comments of greater than three words. Take a look through any hashtag and check the engagement level of the top posts. You will find that these posts have attracted genuine comments from an engaged audience.
Once upon a time, a large following was practically a requirement to gain opportunities to work with brands.
The culture has shifted.
Brands are beginning to take a closer look at the engagement rates over vanity metrics, which explains the shift to the “micro-influencer". (source) The micro-influencer has a smaller following, but higher engagement rates.
After all, what is the worth of 100K followers on Instagram if none of them are actually interested in what you post?
Chasing vanity metrics leads to burnout, frustration, and also has few implications for your brand. If your goal is to sustain a profitable business, growing a large following should not be the top priority. Growing an engaged following is a top priority.
Growing an engaged following won’t happen overnight. It takes patience and strategy in order to attract a genuinely interested audience to your blog and social media accounts.
It starts with you making a commitment to your brand by choosing to be your authentic self. Stay true to the mission and values of your brand. Continue to make high quality content a priority. Dig deeply into your why.
When you pour your heart and soul into your God-given purpose and the why behind your brand, others won’t be able to ignore it. You will attract the people you are meant to help. Remain confident in this and don’t sell out for numbers that serve no purpose.