How Vanity Metrics Hurts Your Ad Spend


Nothing is more frustrating than spending time and money on social ads only to get ZERO engagement. 

Or…followers who are not actively engaging with your content. 

This can happen if you:

  • Hire a subpar marketer who lacks the requisite insight for the ads you need for your business
  • Focusing on vanity metrics that don’t impact your business goals. 

Likes, comments, page views, etc., are not so relevant metrics to track when running sponsored ads with sales as your conversion goal.  

When running ads, the primary goal should be getting high engagements for your brand.

In this blog, you’ll learn how to ignore vanity metrics, and focus on actionable metrics with return on investment on your ad spend.

Let’s get started! 

What are social media vanity metrics? 

Vanity metrics are data that looks good, such as high social media followers, clicks, page views, profile visits, but don’t drive your business goals and KPIs. Vanity metrics distract you from the metrics that matter to your business.

difference between vanity and actionable social media metrics
Difference between vanity & actionable metrics

Vanity metrics are valuable when measuring non-transactional marketing goals. However, in cases when you make sales, they aren’t necessary. 

How to ignore vanity metrics for your social media ads 

Many social media ”gurus” out there will show you vanity metrics—like a high number of followers—just to run your ads and get paid.

One way to avoid this from happening is to understand your business goals and what you’re trying to achieve with your ads. 

If you just created a new business page and you want drive brand awareness, you can run a sponsored ad on one of your content, or just promote the page on Facebook. In this example an actionable metric would the amount of likes you get.

the next step would be to nurture your new followers with content that is informative and valuable so they become fans of your brand.

“A useful metric is accurate when it aligns with your business goals.”

Seth Godin

An already established business on social media is best served running ads with sales conversion as the goal.

To get better ROI on your ad spend, set S.M.A.R.T. goals for your ad campaigns. This will help you ignore metrics that don’t align with your KPIs. 

Vanity metrics definition

Actionable Metrics to consider when running ads

Here are six metrics to track when running sponsored ads on social media. 

  • Conversion rate  

Conversion rate is the percentage of visitors who complete a desired action on your website, social media page.

If your conversion rate is high, it signifies that people are interested in your offers. On the contrary, a low conversion rate signifies you having to tweak your ad or sales offer. A low conversion rate might also imply you have used the wrong platform to run your advert, your sales copy isn’t informative or engaging enough for your prospect to take action or you haven’t identified the right audience for your ad.

To calculate conversion rate, simply divide the number of visitors that completed a desired goal over the total number of visitors. Then, multiply the value by 100. 

For examples, if you get 5000 visitors to your website and 500 downloaded your free eBook, then:

Conversion rate (%) = 500/5000 *100

The conversion rate will be 10%

By adding a “conversion tag” to your website, you can track this metric via a Google Ads account. If you are running Facebook ads directing visitors to your website, you need to install a Facebook Pixel on your website to track conversions. 

  • Cost per action (C.P.A)

Cost per action is an advertisement strategy where advertisers pay for a specific action from a visitor. 

Whenever you run ads, you can tailor your ad spend towards conversions relevant to your brand goals and marketing objectives. 

This method is effective because you will avoid getting vanity metrics on your ads. It also helps to save money and time. 

To track this metric, check the analytics on the ads manager of the social platform you’re using.

  • Click-through rate 

Click-through rate (C.T.R.) is the number of clicks gotten for every impression on your campaign. It is calculated by the ratio of clicks to the number of impressions gotten on the ad. 

For instance, if you had 50 clicks and 5000 impressions, your C.T.R. will be 0.25%. Also, you need to track other vital metrics like:

  • How people interact with your page.
  • Bounce rate on your website.
  • Pageviews per visit, etc.

If people are clicking on your Ads, it means they can relate to them. And this means if your C.T.R. is low, your content is not resonating with your audience. Instagram algorithm, for instance, favors ads with high C.T.R. 

  • Amplification rate

Avinash Kaukish defined amplification rate as the number of times your audience shares your content with their networks. If your goal is to get more followers or engagement on your post, then this is an important metric to track. 

Although social media doesn’t provide a definite insight into this, you can manually track how many people share your Ads with their network. 

To do this, round up the total number of times your post was shared. Divide this value by the total number of followers. Lastly, multiply by 100 to get the percentage.

  • Bounce rate 

Bounce rate is the number of times people land on your website and quickly leave. It is important because a high bounce rate can imply that people are not interested in your offers. On the other hand, if your bounce rate is low, it means your visitors are likely to convert.

For instance, if the bounce rate is lower on Facebook than it is on Instagram, then you know where to target your ad spend. You can easily track this metric via google analytics. 

  • Engagement 

Engagement rate is one of the most important metrics to track for your ads. Engagement is the metric that tracks how many people are interacting with your content. 

Engagement can be in the form of likes, comments, shares, or even referrals. Your engagement rate determines how interested your audience is in your content. 

To track this metric, head over to “insights” on your social media platform check “engagement.”

With this information, you can decide whether to tweak your content or change your ad campaign.


The primary goal when running social ads is to get engagements and conversions. You can follow my advice in this guide to set and track actionable metrics for your paid ads.

If you enjoyed this, you might also enjoy these posts written to help you market better

Follow me on Instagram on @designedbyamos, I share tips on Marketing, Small Business and Web Design.

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