You’ve probably heard the term ‘vanity metrics’ before: those numbers in your business which make you feel good but ultimately mean nothing when it comes down to sales, revenue and profit.
For example, having a lot of Facebook business page “likes” for most people is a vanity metric.
In theory, having a lot of followers, ‘likes’, etc. on a social profile is supposed to be a beneficial thing because it means that the content you share would get in front of more eyeballs. Speaking in big picture terms, this is true. A Facebook page with 100,000 followers is going to have larger organic reach than a page with 10 followers.
However, we must remember that the overall organic reach of a platform such as Facebook pages is small. Facebook’s game is pay-to-play. They have no incentive to show your organic content for free widely throughout their platform. If they did, you’d have no reason to pay for their ads, and they would lose money.
So, if we bring the conversation back down to a more reasonable level, a business owner trying to grow their Facebook page following from 100 to 1,000 is really spending a lot of time on something that will generate pretty little return.
That’s why these metrics are often called ‘vanity metrics’. It makes us as business owners feel good to look at them, to tout:
I have 1,000 followers!
But at the end of the day, it has little to no effect on our monetary progress.
There’s a similar concept wherein an infopreneur is obsessed with titles which make them feel good but ultimately mean nothing. Vanity titles.
The biggest one that really grinds my gears?
Amazon.com Best-Selling Author
In this particular example, infopreneurs will launch a new book in a sub-sub-sub-sub category of ebooks on Amazon which has maybe 2 or 3 other competitors, each of which is averaging just a few sales a year. This author will get their friends to each purchase a copy of their new book on launch day, and bam! Their book ‘soars’ to the #1 spot in that sub-sub-sub-sub category — allowing them to claim “Amazon best-seller” status, which they’ll then use on their websites, LinkedIn profiles and more.
Meanwhile, they’re actually taking a financial loss when you consider the total amount they spent on a self-publishing course, hiring a graphic artist for the cover art, working with an editor, and more.
Now, it bothers me a ton already that people find it so important to hold these titles, and it bothers me a ton that they hold these titles over others as some sort of achievement when in reality they’re totally meaningless.
But what really bothers me even more is when business coaches use these vanity titles as ‘bait’ — for lack of a better word — to entice people to sign up for their programs.
It’s more appealing to advertise that your self-publishing course will turn someone into a “best-selling author” in 3 weeks than to actually tell them what the realistic dollar amount is they could earn from a self-published ebook in 3 weeks.
Personally, I think more blame lies with the coaches and the gurus out there, but that doesn’t mean that infopreneurs as consumers aren’t also guilty of wanting an easy-to-obtain label.
I have no problem with the concept of awards and titles fundamentally, but there is a huge difference between a ClickFunnels “2-Comma Club Award” winner (for example) and an ‘Amazon’ best-selling author. Literally a million dollars difference.
As business owners, the finances is where our focus should be.
Though I can’t remember who, I once heard a successful entrepreneur say years ago (paraphrased):
As an entrepreneur, your sole job is to make money. Close the sale. Nothing else. Anything else is playing the role, but you have one job. Make money. And if you’re not making money, then you’re not succeeding as an entrepreneur — no matter what anything else might indicate.
It’s blunt advice that seems off-putting at first, but once I really learned to internalize that mindset, my business went to a whole other level. I stopped spending time on things that made me look better online and started putting all my time and effort into the tasks that were actually moving the financial needle of my business.
I’ve known ‘best-selling authors’, ‘verified Twitter users’, and ‘TEDx speakers’ who couldn’t pay the bills.
I’ve known people with none of those titles making millions.
As consumers, we should be more discerning in our purchases, rejecting programs which seek to hand us these labels without actually helping us make real money. As experts ourselves, we should be more concerned with earning labels that actually signal real accomplishment and don’t attempt to fool people into thinking we’re more accomplished (a.k.a. richer) than we are.
I’m sure there are lots of people who will disagree. They’ll say these titles are necessary to prove oneself, especially when you’re just getting started in the industry. It’s all about signaling authority, they’ll say.
To some, that may be. “It’s all part of the game.” But I’d like to see a world in which infopreneurs are all playing by a cohesive set of rules, a higher standard.
Either way, people who never learn to actually master the skills necessary to bring in revenue won’t last long, even with their vanity titles.
This article is for informational purposes only and should not be considered financial or legal advice. Always consult a qualified legal and/or financial professional before making business decisions.