With Instagram hiding likes, the number of questions I’ve seen about whether it’s worth it to stay on the platform and how to know if your social presence is paying off has skyrocketed. Business owners, influencers and brands alike are panicking about how other people not being able to see how many likes their post has is going to ruin their business.

I can tell you right now, it’s not. Likes are not paying your bills, neither is your follower count and, honestly, neither are your comments.

Likes are not paying your bills, neither is your follower count and, honestly, neither are your comments

Let me unpack a couple of the comments I’ve seen since the announcement was made.

Vanity metrics allow me to track competitors

Yes, you can quickly see how many likes or followers others in your industry have but that doesn’t tell you anything about how their business is doing. You can work out their growth rate and engagement rate but what use is that to you?

My own Instagram posts average fewer than 20 likes, but they see people clicking through to read my latest blog post (hi there!), or check out my services, or join my email list, or buy through my affiliate links, or book a discovery call with me.
On Facebook, the platform which drives the most traffic to my website, I get diddly squat engagement and haven’t even made it to 70 followers; go see for yourself, hit like while you’re there 😉
My posts drive actions that do pay my bills but you can’t see that by stalking my profile.

If you’re using those metrics to motivate you, use your own stats to drive you. Compare your monthly metrics to your own last month, or 12 months ago, and work to see those grow. Challenge yourself to do better than past you using your own insights based on your own followers, your niche and your business.

Comments aren’t vanity metrics

If I had to choose between likes and comments, I would choose comments, but ultimately they’re still vanity metrics, especially if they’re a single emoji or a generic “great post.

If your post is bringing in lots of real, wonderful comments from people giving feedback or sharing their own thoughts, people who are truly engaging in your content, that’s amazing and valuable, but not because they’re comments. They are valuable because they show that your followers are invested in what you’re sharing and therefore more likely to buy from you or recommend you to their friends.

What to track instead

Here’s the thing, you should still track vanity metrics; they allow you to see your own growth and give you an insight into what your audience enjoys, but don’t plan your entire strategy around them.

Focus on link clicks, profile views, saves and shares. If you have shopping enabled, track actual sales. Know what makes you money or creates leads and use those actions to judge your social success.

The vanity metrics tl;dr*

This is a great opportunity to reassess your priorities in social media and implement a new strategy which drives sales and inspires you to keep posting.

Still not convinced? Social Pip has a great post about which social media engagement is the most valuable which explains more about this with a focus on Facebook.

Personally and professionally I am thrilled that Instagram have made this decision, it is forcing business owners to take a hard look at how they’re using social media and improve their methods, while also removing a huge part of the toxic comparison culture which is damaging the mental health of so many people.

Get a free what to track worksheet and a stat tracker and advice on how to use them by joining The Forest.

For even more support and advice while you’re tweaking your own social strategy from me and other anti-capitalist, community focused business owners, Acorn, my Facebook group, is waiting for you.

*tl;dr = too long; didn’t read. The key information from the post.

The key points about vanity metrics from the blog post