When it comes to judging the success of a piece of content, many marketers will shrug off metrics like social shares and comments because they consider them “vanity metrics.” But the truth is, vanity metrics can be useful for your overall content strategy in many ways.
The psychology behind it is simple. People have a natural fear of missing out. This theory can be applied to content marketing because people fear they will miss out on both consuming and sharing a great piece of content. In this post, we will look at four specific ways vanity metrics demonstrate content popularity, the results you can get from popular content, and a few simple ways you can increase your own vanity metrics.
Content Popularity Will Get More People to Click
Did you know that Feedly, a popular RSS reader, has more than 12 million users? One of the great features within Feedly is a social sharing indicator next to each post. As you browse through the latest posts from the publications to which you subscribe, the ones that are most popular will stand out.
There’s a good chance that anyone browsing their subscriptions will be more inclined to click on a post that is popular, especially if they are trying to decide between two or more articles on the same topic. Or in general, if they are looking for one great article about their industry per day, they’ll likely choose the one that is most popular.
Content Popularity Will Encourage More People to Share
People don’t want to share just any old content. They want to share content that they know their network will enjoy. One way to ensure this is to share content that has proven to be popular. Applications like Post Planner with more than 28K active monthly users, helps people discover the hottest content to share effortlessly to their Facebook audience.
With clear indicators of the content’s popularity, people know that their audience will enjoy it. Their sharing will likely expand beyond social shares to blog posts links, which will give your website a boost on the search side of thing as well.
Content Popularity Will Engage More People to Discuss
One of the drawbacks to RSS readers and the people who just share content is that many can do it without actually having to visit your website. When people don’t visit your website, you lose the opportunity to convert them into subscribers or customers. One way to get people to your website is through discussions. Let’s take the following articles.
Chances are, the one with 399 comments stands out as being thought provoking, simply based on the number of comments. If you are someone who likes to jump into or simply read discussions, you automatically know this post is going to have some good ones in progress. And if the content is good enough to get people to comment, it will likely be good enough for them to share as well.
Content Popularity Will Convince More People to Subscribe
People always want to stay up to date with the latest popular content. If you make it easy for visitors to your website to subscribe, they will likely do so to get your latest content delivered to their inbox.
In the above example from Social Media Examiner, you can see that they did a good job with two things. First, they demonstrated their content’s popularity with the floating social share bar. Second, they also demonstrated their newsletter’s popularity with a counter of the number of subscribers. Both pieces of social proof combined will draw more subscribers to their list.
How to Increase Your Vanity Metrics
So how do you increase the vanity metrics for your content? Here are a few tips.
1. Increase social sharing by making it easy to share.
Social sharing buttons take the pressure off visitors to your website to copy your link and paste it on their social network of choice. All they have to do is click on your retweet button, like button, +1 button, pin it button, etc. to share it with their social media audience. In the beginning, before you start getting lots of social shares, you may want to hide your numbers. But once you do start getting a significant number of shares, be sure your social sharing buttons all have the counts next to them.
2. Increase comments by making discussion your call to action.
You can have two calls to action at the end of your blog content. Built into your blog’s template, you should have a strong call to action to your products, services or email list. At the end of your post, the last sentence should ask readers to add their thoughts, insights, opinions, experiences and questions in the comments. You can easily double the overall number of comments by simply responding to each one you receive. Again, be sure that your comment count is visible on your blog so people can quickly discover where discussions are happening.
3. Increase subscribers by adding social proof by the numbers.
When you see that a blog’s articles have been shared hundreds to thousands of times, and see that 20K of your peers are signed up for a newsletter, you may wonder what great information you are missing out on if you don’t subscribe too.
Vanity metrics like social shares, comments and subscribers can ultimately help you increase traffic to your content as well as subscribers to your newsletter. Don’t ignore the opportunity to increase your vanity metrics so that you can reap the full benefits of each piece of content you create.
How much value do you place on your vanity metrics? Are they part of your content strategy?