Lisa Robbin Young

In my early days on Facebook, I was quick to follow anyone with a pulse. If they connected with me as a friend, I returned the favor. I watched my list of "friends" skyrocket to well over 1000 people in very short order.

Problem is, while my friend count was increasing, it didn't result in new friendships... just more nameless faces on my feed. I never had that problem on twitter, though. It moved so fast, I didn't WANT to follow a bunch of people that I couldn't keep up with.

The result? In my first full year of twitter activity, I generated an additional $30,000 in revenues that I could directly attribute to my time on twitter. I'd met tons of people, made great connections, and made inroads on my income goals as well.

And my follower count on Twitter was substantially lower than the thousands I had on Facebook.

That was a valuable lesson for me. Twitter was engaging and it helped me connect with real people in real time. I knew I couldn't keep up with thousands of Facebook friends that weren't really having conversations with me. I needed to cull my list of "Friends" down to the people I really connected with.

I was chasing a magic number. I thought that if I had thousands of facebook followers, it would result in thousands of dollars in income. That wasn't true for me. By chasing a number that didn't really matter to the bottom line of my business, I wasn't focused on results, I was focused on "looking good" - on vanity.

Vanity Metrics Mean Diddly Squat

I knew I had to cull my list, but I didn't want my friend count to drop significantly in a single day. After all, I was still hooked on the vanity of having thousands of "friends".

But any number you're tracking that doesn't directly tie back to your bottom line results - numbers that just make you look good, or feel good, are vanity metrics.

Sure, vanity metrics can prop you up when you're feeling low, but over time, you start to resent them.

"Hey! I've got 10,000 friends! Why is no one seeing my posts? Why am I not making any money?"

Then you start to blame the platform, instead of addressing how chasing vanity metrics has compounded your problem.

"Stupid Facebook changed their algorithm, and now no one sees my stuff!"

Often, the problem isn't the platform, it's the way you're using it. If you've got 1000 "friends" that you never talk to, that you never interact with, why should Facebook's algorithm make your posts a priority for them?

...Not that I speak from experience or anything...(insert awkward silence and lots of blushing here)

So over time, I started doing something most people might consider unthinkable. Each day, when Facebook sends me the birthday announcements, I go into the profile of the birthday boy (or girl), and if I don't truly have a connection with them, and it's been more than a year since we've "friended" each other, I unfriend them.

"Happy Birthday! I just unfriended you!"

Now, I don't post it on their wall or make a big stink about it. I just deleted 2-3 people every day until I only had people in my friends list that I actually knew, had conversations with, or were people I wanted to spend time getting to know better.

In all the years I've been doing it, no one has ever grumped at me about unfriending them... which proves my point.

If you have no relationship with your connections, they won't miss you when you're gone. (Tweet this)

This week's episode of Creative Freedom shares a bit more about vanity metrics, and what makes the power of engagement so effective in building your Noble Empire (hint: it's about quality, not quantity).

Instead of Vanity Metrics, Track Trends & Results

While looking at a high Klout score can inflate your ego, what really matters (at least for me) is the trend of that number. Is it going up, down, or staying the same? What does the trend mean for your business? If a rising Klout score means you're connecting with more people, and those people are your perfect-fit customers, then great! On the other hand, if it means you've just been more active on social media this month, then perhaps you need to re-think your business strategy.

Or maybe Klout means nothing to you (like it does for my colleague). What matters is that you're keeping track of the numbers that matter to you and your business in a way that works for you.

Here are a few numbers I track on a weekly basis (with the help of my AMAZING VA), to keep me on track in my business. In some cases, the number is important, while in other cases, it's the trend that matters most:

  • Total subscribers
  • Average number of subscribers
  • Email open & Click-thru rates
  • Average $ per customer
  • Follower counts on select social media sites

If I had to track all these (and more) myself, my creative brain would have a meltdown. Either that, or I'd spend more time getting lost in the sites as I collect the stats - which is why I have a VA (virtual assistant) handle most of this data collection for me. My financials (sales, income, expenses, etc.) are still handled on my end. Queen Latifah once said to make sure you are always the one who signs the checks, and I think that's sound advice.

The bottom line is that, in business, you need to be concerned with your bottom line. Depending on your Creative Entrepeneur type, it isn't always comfortable to do it. To be clear, making time to look at the metrics and money doesn't mean you're putting money ahead of people, either. As I've mentioned in previous posts, You've got to have profits, or you don't have a business... it's a charity or a hobby! There's nothing wrong with charities or hobbies, but you need to be clear which it is that you are running and behave accordingly.

What are your Vanity Metrics?

What numbers have you been tracking that don't tie back to your results? What ways can you stop chasing vanity and start creating connections, engagement, and more meaning in the relationships with clients, subscribers and fans that you already have? Share your comments and become part of our Rising Tide.

Also, we're considering starting a free facebook group to take these concepts even deeper each week. Interested? Let me know! When there's enough interest, we'll make an announcement in my weekly newsletter. Not on the list? Use the handy dandy box at the top of the page and rectify that problem now. 🙂