Digital 101: Beyond the vanity metrics

First it was Instagram. Now Facebook too has joined with the trial removal of the ‘Likes’ feature on its social media page. (After all, they are all owned by Zukerberg) For the longest time since the existence of the abovementioned social media apps, the success of a post has generally been measured via the number of ‘Likes’ received. 

The removal of ‘Likes’ trial sees a generic ‘Others’ in replacement of the numbers that are usually reflected. Source: The Verge

The move has gotten influencers, especially, on a panic frenzy, wondering if it will affect their income. ‘Likes’ is considered as a form of engagement and many saw it as a reflection on how well the post was doing. In commercial engagement, many use it as a source of measurement to see how well an influencer is doing.  As it is, Instagram apparently holds the highest influencer marketing, and eventually led to people chasing after ‘Likes’. It had come to a point where it became a form of social approval – more ‘Likes’ equates to more popular and boosting self-esteem. Unfortunately, lack of ‘Likes’ also has the reversed effect and that is why Instagram saw the initiative necessary.

According to an official Instagram spokesperson, the supposedly controversial trial is meant to shift the direction of users – to appreciate content instead of harping on achieving a set number of ‘Likes’.

If you are a brand or a business and have been breaking into sweats at the thought of missing what is referred to as the vanity metrics, chin up. We have got you covered with the basics. There are more ways to measure the success of your social media presence, campaign or brand impact for that matter, than the mere number of ‘Likes’ and emojis; ones that will motivate you to pay more attention to the analytics for the differences it can make. 

Read on to find out how to read the various Instagram metrics.


The two metrics are often measured together for how closely related they are to each other. Reach measures the number of potential viewers a post could get, and ‘Impression’ is the number of times the post shows up on a person’s timeline on social media. 

Marketers usually turn to ‘Reach’ and ‘Impressions’ when a campaign or product is looking to achieve brand awareness. The numbers reflect the visibility that a post gets to its audience. With reach, the number shows the total number of followers and the followers of accounts that shared the post. It is defined as ‘potential reach’ because not everyone who is following the account would come across the post, especially so with the latest algorithm.


That said, high reach or impressions are not enough to know the success of your post, even if the objective is brand awareness. For a brand to move forward with its strategic social media planning, knowing how well the posts have done with the receiver is essential. Let’s just say that not all that you have posted will receive the same kind of love. You can post to a million people but if only 1 person engaged with it, you know how much love you get. 

Source: Earth

With the flood of content on the digital space, one of the best ways to find out is through engagement. Reach without engagement communicates across that your post is not interesting enough for viewers to want to react to it – whether it is liking a post, to sharing of content or even leaving a comment. The utmost latter is usually the best kind of engagement because it has the potential of creating a conversation. 

Have you ever noticed someone’s post appearing on your feed even though you are not on each other’s friend’s list? It is what happens when someone on your friend’s list reacts to that person’s post. So, imagine a scenario where people are heavily conversing on a particular post and the number of feeds it will be appearing on. 

In this case, a high engagement rate normally leads to an even higher reach and impressions – one that is of quality too. 


Part of the insights on Instagram includes the Age Range and Gender for your audience. As seen above, 25-34 year olds make up the majority of the above account’s audience.
Source: Adespresso

While numbers are great and all, do not forget your target audience. This metric is also often shown on the insights of your social media account. Making references back to your initial targeted audience enables the brand to always ensure that posts remain aligned to those on the receiving end. 

A revelation of audience insights that differ from the brand’s vision is also an opportunity to consider a different strategy for its marketing plans.


This metric is like the cherry on top when it comes to covering the basic of all metrics. When the analytics from reach, impressions and audience do not digest, the best is to refer to the sentiments – which is the consumers’ perception towards a product, service or brand through their emotions

There are a number of ways to look at sentiments. Since Facebook and Instagram are taking away their “Reactions” button, you can start looking at the comments that were posted. Use a social media listening tool to aggregate the comments for an overall sentiment sensing. Another way is to look at how people are sharing your posts. Do they share it with the intention of an opinion? 

The comments give off the impression that their followers are salivating to the fried chicken content. In this case, the sentiment is positive. Source: Instagram

Sentiments are measured in three categories: positive, negative or neutral and it is usually gauged based on words expressed by the user. In a glance, a brand or business should be able to get a gist and an idea on the perception of the product or service, or brand. 

With all of the above insights in tow, you then wonder what is really the purpose of ‘Likes’ to begin with? These are only some that will provide your brand with a better understanding of how well your posts are doing, amidst the removal of a vanity metric. Certainly, there are more to be explored for in-depth analysis with Google Analytics, the Return on Investment (ROI), and right down to how long your viewers spend on a post. 

Here are some other useful resources we think that can help you:

  1. Schedule your Instagram post
  2. How to make the most of Instagram Stories in 2020

Get in touch with us at talktous@wearebeknown.com to find out how well your brand’s reputation is on the digital space. With greater insights to the analytics, let us take your brand to greater heights. Alternatively, sign up for our monthly newsletter for all things digital marketing at wearebeknown.com.  

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