Vanity Metrics and You!

I sometimes see blogs in the Reader, and they have many thousands and even hundreds of thousands of follower statistics beside their names. I know l have written about this topic before; however, Paula and l were discussing the accuracy of these vanity metrics recently with some confusion: ‘Just because A has X number of followers, sometimes the exceedingly low volume of the comments doesn’t reflect the higher follower numbers.

You can’t judge anything anywhere, be this WordPress, Facebook, Twitter and so on by the follower figures alone, well at least in my opinion. Higher numbers mean jack squat today as it isn’t the quantity but the quality l think that counts most.

With the ability for readers to LIKE without any proper depth of focused commitment, a LIKE in itself is, l believe, pretty redundant. Still, l sometimes wonder why social media sites and blogging platforms insist on displaying the numbers following the blog/website and so on – does it matter? Does it influence the Reader or potential follower to a blog or an account?

It was only whilst researching this topic that l discovered the phrase ‘vanity metrics’, and l was fascinated! The core opinion of vanity metrics is, quantity, not quality, reminding me of the old joke, “It’s not how long it is that matters. It is how well you use it! Or rather how you use it doesn’t matter, length is all important buddy!”

Before my own ‘Purge’ at the start of this month, l had 2800 Followers – merely numbers. At the end of the flush, l had 40 dedicated readers, and l was following 57 writers and creators [people not just numbers] – they are the actual figures and not the hogwallash that WP is trying to inform people, which is 103 follow me and 409 that l follow.

Since the purge, l have had a total of 15 new blogs follow me, and last week l offloaded most of those due to lack of interaction from any of them leaving me a brand new figure of 46 – the 6 are merely numbers until they actually interact with me.

Numbers or stats don’t influence me; l care not for them. I don’t care what the numbers of other bloggers are either; it’s always what they write about and their content that matters the most to me. But l can’t help but sometimes look at these higher numbers and wonder WHY they have such low interaction when you consider those numbers?

Of the 2800 followers l had at the beginning of this month – l had regular interaction and engagement over a four week month from 40 people. Since offloading well over 2700 readers, l have enjoyed higher interaction rates from the forty regulars and benefited from a slight rise in new follower engagement.

Although my posts still attract surplus Likes now, they are still much closer to reality. I know Paula has been enjoying the same more efficient results as well. The purging has not hurt my blog or me. If anything, it helped me truly focus on my created content.

Today as both a personal blogger and a writer, l only focus on smaller numbers and spend more time creating more content quality. I appeal to a small audience only, and my popularity is more selective.

Now that aside, to the questions …

How influenced are you by the number of ‘Followers’ a social media site/blog has, or are you not?

Do you think blogs/websites and so on should display follower numbers, or should they be hidden?

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63 thoughts on “Vanity Metrics and You!

  1. I don’t mind the numbers. The true followers/ interactive readers are about 10% of the total number, if that. Why I don’t do a cull? Because it doesn’t matter to me. When someone starts to bother me, I’ll block them but until they do, I let them be. It’s just a number!
    As for the other question; it does effects new people! If the number of followers is bigger, more people will follow. Perhaps it’s false advertisement or representation.

    1. “As for the other question; it does effects new people! If the number of followers is bigger, more people will follow.”

      Are you basing this on the fact that you only read through the Reader and therefore can see the follower figures.

      This isn’t about culling your herd, l made mention to that on a personal level.

      You are basically saying that you are greatly influenced by follower numbers on other blogs?

      So with regards figures you think they should be visible so you can make decisions based upon the quantity rather than the quality of the content? The bigger something is, the better something must be?

      1. I based my answer on how people are following my blog. They come in groups, one follow triggers a lot more. I’m not influenced by the number of the followers a blogger has but I think it no one will remove these numbers. Some people who have word ads have to have a certain number of followers before they can get it. My decision to follow a blog is based on the content of the blog not numbers.

        1. Yes! Are you taking a look at the views and visit stats as well? The views and visit stats tell s different story than the likes and comments.

        2. No, views are unimportant, as we can affect our own stats by looking at our own content especially on the .com

          I am never bothered by views or likes. I look at visitors and l look at comments, but comments means very little also as half the comments and sometimes more are mine in response to others.

          I tend to look at things very differently with regards to a personal blog as opposed to a business blog.

          More curiousness is currently tied into bounce rates, page times, and navigations.

        3. I have no idea about those stats. The bottom line for me is that I enjoy writing and if others enjoy reading it then I have no issues with them following my blog. I myself followed Tanya when I hadn’t started my own blog. But I was a genuine follower.

      1. Especially on Twitter and Instagram, when people rave about having 14k followers or something. I want to shout at my scream that nobody cares.

        1. I agree with you Ami, and yet many people do care about the number of followers a creator has. I personally don’t, l want to see the content they create and make a decision upon that. But many people are impressed and equally as – influenced by higher numbers.

          When l first began blogging, l was overwhelmed at some of the higher figures – but over time l have slowly watched and observed these high roller accounts and come to realise that in nearly 90% of cases, they amount to absolutely nothing.

          The remaining 10% of high rolling bloggers do enjoy high engagement figures and produce quality content. This has come around through patience and understanding of their content and their audience. As they say ..

          Rome wasn’t built in a day.

  2. 🙂 Rory, I never get carried away with having a large number of followers because I know that there is a percentage of them who no longer blog.

    The most important thing of all is how many people take the time to interact with your blog (I cherish interaction way more than a large following).

    1. Hey Renard, very true – l prefer engagement/interaction way more than massive following. Comments like yours here today and the comments already received so far – the comments make everything worthwhile.

      Hope you are keeping well my friend and wishing you a lovely Thursday morning and afternoon ahead 🙂

  3. I think I’d prefer if numbers and statistics were not posted. If anything, I am more influenced by very low numbers and will try to encourage someone to keep writing. And as far as my own go, they’re not something I think about much. Have a lovely day, Rory ☺️

  4. I think numbers are a form of social proof that likely have some degree of influence even if it’s not consciously, although that degree of influence would be lower for some people than others.

    Higher follower numbers can indirectly make it easier for new people to find your blog, as it’s one of the factors WP uses in its algorithm for displaying search results and recommendations within the Reader. https://wordpress.com/support/algorithms-search-and-recommendations/

    With my own blog, what interests me the most is engagement. I know my ratio of engaged readers to followers is very low, so I just don’t pay attention to that ratio because it’s not meaningful. I don’t care if the ratio is 1% or 80%; I care about the individual bloggers who are interacting. Changing the ratio doesn’t change the number of people who are interacting. Since that ratio isn’t meaningful for me, I don’t see any return on investment, so to speak, for taking the time to remove followers who don’t engage, plus the likelihood is high that I would delete people who read my blog occasionally, or are on a blogging hiatus, etc. So for me personally, I don’t see a benefit to doing that.

    1. An interesting point raised Ashley and one l see Jen has made reference to also in another format, which l shall be writing about in the next few days as well – social proof and increased self esteem.

  5. Thanks for the shoutout, Rory! I went from 2700 followers to 300 after my purge and am happy that the lower number is closer to reflecting actual engagement. I have allowed around 20 more to stay since. I’m a tad more lenient than you and will accept a follower who posts poetry, books reviews, etc., even if they haven’t commented on my blog yet. But they need to have recent posts! It’s no biggie to keep an eye on this and regularly throw off marketers, non-English writers, et al, because I don’t want to return to a meaningless number of followers. I also only follow blogs I truly enjoy reading.

    I am anti-influenced by huge numbers of followers and on FB and Twitter will generally NOT follow/friend someone with ridiculously large number unless I know them personally or they have made a point of interacting with me. I don’t want to simply add to their vanity metrics (what a great term!). Most of the accounts I follow here on WP are smallish, with one exception.

    I think it’s helpful to have the numbers displayed. I’m more inclined to follow back someone with a smaller number in the hope that they are “real” and won’t end up annoying me with vanity metrics. I do understand that not everyone is like us and most have no interest in taking the time to investigate who exactly is following and/or bringing that number closer to reality. I also get that some are monetizing and wouldn’t want to lose a single possible view. Glad I’m not in that boat!

    Funny though that culling the herd has had NO EFFECT on the number of my likes and comments due to that fact that most followers don’t engage. My views have decreased a bit, but I don’t care, since I don’t monetize. Finally, the larger number never helped me sell books, which to me would be the only benefit to having them if they don’t participate.

    1. Hey hey Paula,

      Yes you probably are more lenient than l am with followers, but l have only just allowed visible LIKES on my posts again as that bothered me or irked me enormously. My tolerance for some things has sort of gone out the window.

      I could slim the herd [like that term] once a month, but l figure l can tell who is likely to be truly reading as opposed to those who are hoping l am only going to interact back because of their one single comment and l am no longer interested in that.

      Things are very interesting for me at present and more so since looking at creating a Business blog, so l have to observe actions and behaviours differently – the business blog is only marginally different to the personal blog in so far as funnelling the traffic – more ;tolerance’ is required in the business and because of that when l come to my personal blog, l am really only truly writing for a select audience, l don’t need to be as specific with this – here in Guy l have gotten to know people over the years and see them as my friends.

      Yes, the whole monetizing shituation is a nightmare [yes a deliberate err on my side] WP are very hyperfocused on that and it seems a shame that some blogs only have one option to advertise on anything less than a business plan, so don’t get the choice of their adverts. I wouldn’t want to be in that boat either.

      No, there is no effect on the culling process, Ashley pointed it out quite well in her response “Changing the ratio doesn’t change the number of people who are interacting.”

      She is right of course – however, all that aside, l am now feel like l am writing for my direct audience and receiving the interaction back plus l feel better about it.

      It’s not the higher quantity that sells the books, it’s purely the people who want to buy. Even with a smaller audience, l still sell my designs – of course if l had a bigger wider audience more would see those adverts – BUT there is no guarantee they will buy.

  6. I fully admit that my ego needs my numbers. That being said I try to interact with as many readers and writers as I can. I always enjoy learning things from people from other parts of the world (another perk of the job). I am at the point of my writing “career” that my ego wants to know that people are atleast looking at my work. Sad but true.

    1. Hey Jen that’s an interesting comment as l have just made mention to Ashley’s inclusion of ‘social proof’, so are you saying that your ego/esteem is lifted by the number of followers you have?

      1. Some days yes. Other days I will go through and just cull my followers because I know they don’t read anything. I try to make it a point to read and like as many as WordPress lets me before I write mine. I might not comment but I do read. I know that several of my followers do the same.
        Part of my problem is I feel like I am writing in vacuum sometimes. I write for a local paper as well as my full time job at the store. I know people read my articles. But getting a comment about my article makes me feel good. That I am doing something. Even if I don’t get a comment on my blog if I can “see” that people are reading my writing ( true or not) then I feel good about myself as a writer. It sounds very shallow but I had some of my writing stolen and they published it under another name after telling me it was crap. I still have not gotten over that.

        1. I can understand the desire to feel good about your writing – it’s not shallow.

          It’s very annoying when people steal other people’s work.

          What kind of articles do you write about in your column in the local rag?

        2. Usually I cover four local meetings over the course of the month. I have done a front page story as well as several smaller pieces about local events or people.

        3. It does. It is fun to be asked to write this or that from locals. And when we do our April Fool’s edition, that is one of my favorites!😊

        4. I get paid by the word. I recently got a raise from 10 cents a word to 13 cents a word. I usually make enough to cover my car payment so I am very grateful. I also get paid $20 for the driving to and from the meetings.

        5. I have done a few pieces over the years. Most of what has been published are book reviews. Ironically that is something I am not so confident in even though I know I am good. That is something I am working on. Being more confident in my writing abilities. I have been writing all my life….

  7. The only time I ever look at my stats/numbers is when someone mentions the subject in a post – Why would I care how many followers someone else has? When the subject of deleting followers came up I poked around to find where that list might be and deleted all the people who aren’t really people – if you know what I mean – and my followers dropped down to like 12.

    Here’s a topic about blogging you might want to look into – tags. Do you need them, do they drive viewers to your blog, are some tags more effective in drawing people in – things like that. I’ve basically stopped posting any poetry and using the poetry tag – it seems to attract people who actually comment – but the comments are just weird.

    1. Yes Tags is an interesting subject Grace, l agree – something for the future for sure – thank you 🙂

      I know what you mean with regards non-people, they are just numbers.

  8. The only time I notice my followers count is when WP sends me a notification about it.😂
    I deleted a bunch a while back but haven’t bothered to do it again.🤷🏼‍♀️

    I know who my “WP Dudes” are. I also know the people on the periphery who occasionally interact. I couldn’t give you an actual number, but numbers have never been important to me.

    I like that term “Vanity Metrics”. Now I’m thinking about vanity and wondering what I am vain about… 🤔

      1. Yeah, but you know how I’m always going off on tangents😂😂😂 then those tangents lead to other tangents… I may forget what the original “destination” was, but I enjoy the journey 😉

        1. I usually find my way to the original starting point, but forget why I started out in the first place. I learn a bunch of things along the way though. “Thought Journies”

          I don’t think I have much vanity in the usual sense of the word. (See, I’m back to the beginning) as far as how it’s used with “metrics”, I understand your “ish”… at least I belive I do. It’s not quite the same as being vain about your looks, or your apple pie recipe, but it IS something to hold up and compare oneself to others. Right?

        2. I think some do – but l am not sure if it is a vanity issue – maybe a power prowess stance. I have X number of followers l am therefore bigger, more powerful, more important, more etc, therefore the behaviour if anything is boastful.

          Living and growing up with narcissism as l did l find l have very little tolerance for it. More so l get confused on non-business blogs.

          I mean HOW many followers do we need on ‘personal blogs’? Is the vanity aspect at that point more along the lines of ‘bragging rights?’

          Business blogs is a different ball game you are developing people to travel through funnels as in a follower becomes a reader becomes a core reader becomes dedicated becomes a supporter becomes a buyer. Therefore numbers are more essential.

          I think personal blogs have the same fomula but it would probably stop at to a degree after dedicated.

          Of course as Sadje pointed out if you have adwords and or support WP adverts then you want more traffic to encourage and procure an income. But that is NOT solely a personal blog in my eyes.

  9. I don’t use the system of follow me, follow you, so I can’t complain one way or another.

    Instead, I remember the ones I believe are good and interesting and just go and find them, it’s not too hard. I wouldn’t/couldn’t follow more than a handful of blogs what with everything else I like to read and look at daily, so I can’t expect the same from others.

    None of us are famous writers so it’s ridiculous to think 5000 people, or whatever, are waiting to read our daily posts. So, yes, it’s vanity of the worst kind – delusional vanity.

  10. How influenced are you by the number of ‘Followers’ a social media site/blog has, or are you not?

    Not influenced at all.

    Do you think blogs/websites and so on should display follower numbers, or should they be hidden?

    I don’t think it makes much of a difference…at least not to me. I gauge my blog’s “health” not on the number of followers, but on views, likes, and, most especially, comments.

  11. I thoroughly agree with you as to the number of followers – and “likes” – being irrelevant, Rory, although upon reading my mind kept jumping to “pictures” of all the numerical lists and references being bandied about in the public domain concerning Covid-19 cases and deaths over the past two years. Of course the topics have nothing in common, but the principle does. WHO is to say what counts and what doesn’t? WHO is choosing the numbers that are significant? To whom are they significant? In other words, all we know is that “THEY” say it is so. We have no proof “THEY” are giving us unbiased information. And further more, who knows what their true agenda is? 🙄

    This is all rather tongue in cheek, but there is a point to it in that the numbers don’t mean a whole lot overall. As you say, it is the interaction that counts.

    I’m not aware of how one may do all you and Paula have done technically concerning the refining of your Followers list and wouldn’t bother with it if I did. But I do so enjoy the interesting topics you come up with, Rory, to stimulate thought and interaction, as well as reading the responses you get.

    Thank you so much for all your efforts! Wishing you a lovely weekend ahead. 😊

    1. Hey Betty, you are right spot on with regards the covid figures also – how do we know what the true figures are?

      Many thanks for your wishes and you know as always my return greetings you yourself, Bud and of course the Featherlies 🙂

  12. I don’t get hung up on my numbers but it’s nice to know if I am gaining new followers. I think it is up to the blogger if they want to display their numbers, which numbers do not determine whether or not I will follow a blog. I follow
    400, which I whittled down from over 2000.

    With that said, there are a few blogs with very high numbers, which I follow a few of them. However, if the numbers and the activity on the blog don’t make sense, it makes me wonder. As I go from post to post and don’t see any comments and/or very few likes but the numbers display 10,000 followers, something is amiss. I know followers can be bought, which seems to be very vain!

    1. Hey Eugenia, yes, it’s very true, ‘figures’ can be attained to boost numbers up. it’s done so as to boost ranking position with seo l think. I remember reading an article about the service that allowed people to buy IG and Twitter followers and they talked there that followers could be bought for any platform.

        1. I have always believed it to be cheating, l see a few blogs on here into well over 100k of followers and l look and laugh a bit when l see the lack of actual LIKES and very few comments.

  13. I believe there’s an option to hide your stats if you want to. I had no idea they were public in the first place, so did a bit of learning today. Thanks!

    How influenced are you by the number of ‘Followers’ a social media site/blog has, or are you not? I’m not. Numbers (mine or someone else’s) don’t impress me. I look for good content first and primarily.

    Do you think blogs/websites and so on should display follower numbers, or should they be hidden? As I said above, at least on WordPress, there’s an option to hide that information if one chooses. I think it ought to be up to the individual user to display or hide their stats. Some folks really ‘rely” (not the best choice of word, but I’m stumped) on the stats to determine if a blogger is worth their time or not. And some folks like displaying their probably faux ‘popularity’ by showing such things. Whatever does it for each individual, is fine.

    1. Hey Melanie, l was looking at the option you make mention to here about hiding those stats, l have a busy couple of days ahead, but will look at that this weekend – many thanks.

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