Tuesday 2¢: You Are Not the Sum of Your Vanity Metrics

In this weeks Tuesday 2¢, inspired by a half-remembered Godin quote, I wonder if we are focusing on the right things as marketers and as people…


A few months ago, I scribbled a note to write this blog post, inspired by a quote from Seth Godin about how our society leads us to overvalue ourselves based on how much money we make. That people that don’t make a lot of money, value themselves less.

OK, I confess, I seem to be unable to put the right string of words into Google to find the exact quote in the vast unending sea of Seth Godin quotes… here is a similarly good one:

The amount of money you have has nothing to do with whether or not you’re a good person. Being good with money is a little like being good with cards. People who are good at playing cards aren’t better or worse than anyone else, they’re just better at playing crazy eights.

Seth Godin – https://seths.blog/2013/06/thinking-about-money/

As I am a little obsessed with marketing, the reason why I made the note was; it felt the same as us marketers and our relationship to vanity metrics.

You know, the web hits, likes, followers, opens and all that vaguely narcissistic stuff, that often times are not terribly well connected to the real value that marketing can bring to a business, to create awareness (in the right audience) revenue and trust (or ART).

We as marketers can be tempted into placing too much emphasis on these easy to read metrics in valuing our work and then chasing them.

The truth, of course, is that if only 100 people visited your website, watched your Youtube video or followed you on Twitter, but all 100 placed an order valued at 1.1% of your revenue targets for this quarter, your life would be pretty sweet.  

Crazy I know, but I did once have a client whose darkest corner of their website, that barely registered on the Google analytics seismograph attracted a very specific group of buyers who spent millions. Better for that marketing team to value themselves on their contribution to the company revenue, than to worry that their pages were “unpopular” with the masses.

Then, as I pondered some more about this post, I realized in this social media age, with all of us needing to pay attention to our personal brands, whether you are a marketer or not, this idea of being valued by vanity metrics is gripping us all.

I was recently chatting to chap with a fairly big following on Twitter that shared with me the delight his daughter had when he bought her some followers. It gave her pleasure and validation to appear popular. It was a fun thing to do, not judging the guy, he’s a splendid fellow, but it kinda makes this point that we are placing too much value in these numbers as a reflection on our own self-worth.

I’ll be honest, I’m not better, I sometimes slip off the wagon and hit the bong that is checking Google Analytics for this blog or wake up confused in the dark alley that is worrying that my Twitter following has dipped and chastise myself for not being one of my marketing heroes.

Then, as has happened to me this week, someone in real life mentions something you’ve posted, someone emails a recommendation based on what you’ve been tweeting about, you have a call about a podcast inspired by a post or.. and I can’t resist mentioning this… the rather wonderful Robert Rose mentions you on his world-famous (in my world at least) This Old Marketing podcast (episode #214) with Joe Pulizzi – and you are reminded what’s really valuable.

Marketing, whether you are marketing yourself or your brand is not about the faceless bounces, fake followers and tire kickers. It’s about connecting with the right, real people that trust and care enough to do something for or with you.   

You are not the sum of your vanity metrics; you are the sum of these folks.