Social media marketing requires an investment of your business resources, including both time and money. For this reason, small pet business owners need to view the growth of their accounts a little differently than we would our personal accounts. As with any aspect of your marketing plan, you need to track and analyze your Instagram growth to ensure that you are making progress that will help your overall business growth. But not all social media metrics are created equally.
An important topic to understand when doing an Instagram audit is the impact of vanity metrics vs. actionable metrics.
If this is your first time hearing these terms, don’t worry! You’re not alone. I’m going to break down the difference between the two types of Instagram metrics and which you should be most focused on when working on Instagram for business growth.
Let’s get started…
What Metrics Should I Measure for Instagram?
Both Business and Creator accounts in Instagram provide you with access to Insights, an analytics tracking dashboard within the Instagram app. This tool is valuable for tracking, analyzing, understanding, and improving your account.
The Account Insights Overview breaks down three key metrics and their percentage of change, including:
- Accounts Reached: The number of accounts your content was shown to, including followers and non-followers, during the specified time.
- Accounts Engaged: The number of accounts that engaged with your content, such as liking, commenting, saving, or sharing during the specified time.
- Total Followers: The total number of people following your account.
Selecting any of these high-level metrics will bring you to a screen with more detail. For example, suppose you click through to the Accounts Reached. In that case, Instagram will provide you with more information about the accounts your content was reaching, including the geographic location, age ranges, gender, and followers vs. non-followers. They also individually break down your total reach into the reach of your posts, reels, and stories.
All the information in all three high-level categories is helpful when trying to understand your Instagram performance and whether you are connecting with your ideal audience. But not all metrics are created equally when assessing whether your Instagram account is growing in a way that will contribute to your greater business growth. This is why it is important to understand vanity metrics vs actionable metrics and how they fit into this bigger picture.
What Are Vanity Metrics?
Vanity metrics on social media are the numbers that most social users will focus on the most. These numbers look good when someone visits your account and likely gives you that rush of dopamine that makes you feel good and keeps you coming back to your account for more. Some examples of vanity metrics on Instagram are your number of followers or the number of views each of your Reels receives.
While higher follower or view numbers can make you look good, they aren’t a good indication of how your Instagram account is working to drive any real return in your business off the platform.
What Are Actionable Metrics?
Actionable metrics, on the other hand, are the metrics that directly relate to the measurable goals in your marketing plan. This could include the number of people who click through from Instagram to your website or the number of customers that contact you on Instagram to purchase your product or service. With the help of Google Analytics, you can even track how many sales on your website originated from Instagram.
The Impact of Vanity Metrics vs Actionable Metrics for Business ROI
Now that you have a better understanding of the vanity metrics definition and how it differs from actionable metrics, let’s look at how this information can impact your assessment of whether your Instagram account is helping your business grow. After all, as a small pet business owner, that is what really matters!
While vanity metrics are arguably important (you won’t see any sales if you have 0 followers or 0 views on your reels), many small pet business owners become hung up with these numbers. However, the accounts with the highest follower numbers are not always the most successful. You could have 10,000 followers, but they aren’t going to help you make any money if none of those 10,000 followers are engaging with your content or your business any further than just clicking the “follow” button. Your account would look good, but you won’t receive any real return on all the time and effort you put into creating content for those 10,000 followers.
Instead, to create a successful Instagram account specifically for your business, you should focus on creating content that engages and connects with your audience. You want to find people interested in your products or services and could become customers.
How Do I Leverage Instagram Content for Business Growth?
Growing your Instagram account in a way that will help you reach your business goals will involve more than just understanding the vanity metrics meaning. But this is an essential first step in identifying ways to better focus your efforts on the platform. Here are a few tips to help you build an active and engaged audience.
Track the Relevant Data
If you’re not already tracking your metrics, now is the perfect time to start! You can do this in several ways, depending on your personal preferences. You may want to create a spreadsheet or write it down in a physical notebook. Whatever you choose, ensure you include all the stats you need to get a complete picture of how your account supports your business goals.
You may also want to track data that isn’t directly related but could help you analyze your account’s performance. Even vanity metrics can help with this.
Example: If your goals for this quarter include increasing your website traffic, you will need to track the clickthrough rate from Instagram to know if it’s helping. You may also want to track the views on your reels to see if you can improve them to boost this further. Compare these views to your engagement clickthrough rates and look for trends. This will help you identify your next steps.
- High views/low engagement: Your reels are being shown to a large audience, but they aren’t encouraging people to take the next step. Try reworking your call-to-action to make it easier for people to see what they should do next or incorporating your CTA into your actual reel better. This could also mean your reels aren’t reaching the right audience, and you need to consider different types of reels or hashtags to focus on the people that would be interested in your products or services.
- Low views/high engagement: Your CTA is compelling, and your ideal audience is the people Instagram shows your reels. To build upon this, you will want to focus on expanding your reach to put this high-performing content in front of more people from a similar audience.
- Low views/low engagement: You may want to return to the drawing board. Your content isn’t reaching the right people; if it is, it isn’t connecting with them and encouraging them to take the next step.
- High views/high engagement: Congratulations! You found the right formula for success with your audience, and you should focus on creating more content like this.
The same approach can be applied to tracking your photo content by comparing your reach for each post and engagement rate.
Be Clear with Your Purpose
If you don’t see a good conversion on your account, it may be because your account as it is currently set up isn’t attracting the right people. Step back and look at the basics, including your profile picture, bio, and highlights. Do they clearly tell people what you do and why they should be interested in connecting with you? If not, it may be time to make some changes.
For example, let’s say that you make and sell dog collars. If your account is all about your dog, it won’t matter whether your dog is wearing your latest designs– people likely don’t even know the collar is for sale. Your followers may be there to enjoy cute, entertaining dog content.
Ask Questions to Encourage Conversation
One of the easiest ways to improve your posts’ engagement is to ask your followers to engage in a conversation. Ask them a question that relates to the content that you are sharing. When a conversation starts on one of your posts, it tells the Instagram algorithm that your content is valuable and should be shown to more people. Make sure to return to the post and respond to comments to continue this conversation.
Create Content Beyond Just Trends
One of the reasons many Instagram coaches encourage people to focus on making reels with trending audio is that your content will reach more people. This is a fun way to connect with new people, but it can’t stop there if you are interested in converting any of these people into paying customers.
Try looking at your Instagram efforts like building a relationship. A trending reel is a great introduction. However, if all you do is say hello and introduce yourself, the conversation never starts, and no relationship develops. In addition to the trending reels, create business-focused Instagram posts that continue this conversation, showcase your products or services, and help these new people see the value you are offering them.
Now that you have a clear understanding of vanity metrics vs actionable metrics, what metrics will you focus on for your business growth? We’d love to hear your goals in the comments!
About the Author: Britt Kascjak is a freelance writer and content creator with a background in digital and social media marketing. In addition to being the BlogPaws Director of Content & SEO, she also runs her own personal blogs Shed Happens, The Kas Pack, and Lucifer the Rescue Pup. When she’s not working, she can be found volunteering in the rescue space, camping, hiking, canoeing, or spending time with her 3 dogs and 2 cats.