As a senior marketing and account manager working in this industry for a couple of years now, I expect to see business results from social strategies. Social advertising platforms, such as Facebook's Ads Manager, have arguably the most advanced targeting capabilities ever seen in our industry. It also contains the tools to encourage real results and immediate actions, something that traditional advertising has always lacked. So why, oh GOD why, do we place such a significance on vanity metrics such as likes, comments, shares?
Don't get me wrong, engagement figures are important and do have their place, but they should never be a sole measure of success for a campaign or a priority for perceived growth. How many times has a client come to you with the sole purpose of "getting more likes on Facebook" and then become frustrated when this "ingenious" plan fails to massively affect sales results? If your answer is more than zero, that's too much.
In my honest opinion, for most businesses, likes, comments and shares don’t show the true value that social media can bring to their business. We need to swiftly move away from these short-sighted “vanity” metrics as right now we have the tools at our disposal to generate real and tangible results.
This is nothing new to people who work in the industry, but the fact of the matter is that the majority of small to medium size brands and businesses still don't see social media as a competent platform to advertise and expect substantial results outside of the vanity figures.
However, I believe this won't always be the case and this year we will see a vast majority of these organizations start to discover the value social can bring to other phases of the customer journey beside top-of-funnel engagement.
We will see a lot more investment in real-world results we can measure. We're likely to see smaller e-commerce businesses embrace social strategies, grow relevant audiences and attract more business via retargeting, dynamic product ads, specific product feeds etc.
As marketers, we can help kill vanity figures by setting simple tangible targets, such as boosting event attendance or ensuring customer loyalty by identifying at-risk customers with social listening. We can use direct-response tools offered by social networks to draw a straight line between social activity and direct sales, or we can simply just prioritise direct E-commerce solutions.
I'm calling it now! In 2018 we will finally say R.I.P to Vanity Figures... Hopefully!