The Ugly Truth About Vanity Metrics and Why You Need to Ignore Them

If vanity metrics are dead, what metrics should I be measuring? Here are the numbers that really matter.

Matt By Matt
10 Min Read

These days, anyone with a phone and the internet can call themselves a “content creator”. You can share your thoughts and stories with loads of people worldwide at the touch of a button. Pretty cool, right?

Sadly, many creators become obsessed with numbers like video views, likes, and follower counts.

They start valuing “vanity metrics” rather than measuring the actual impact their work has on people’s lives.

But here’s the thing – creators who want to create positive change don’t just pump out content for numbers. Their work sparks powerful movements that shake up society and shift culture. The true value isn’t measured by a number on a screen, but by how deeply it touches people’s hearts and minds.

Obsessing over vanity metrics turns creative work into soul-less data points.

Don’t let social media algorithms and platforms reduce your inspired creations to simple figures on a spreadsheet. That’s no way to judge if your art made a real difference!

Ditch Those Meaningless Numbers

It’s high time we redefine what “success” means for creators who want to make a positive impact. Here are the metrics that actually matter:

1. Building a Devoted Tribe

Loyal, diehard fans are far more valuable than millions of casual viewers. A small group of obsessed, devoted followers beats a huge audience of passive spectators any day.

The most influential creators cultivate cult-like followings. Their fans don’t just consume and move on – they internalise the work like gospel truth. They spread the creator’s message far and wide like devoted evangelists.

True fans feel a profound, personal connection to the creator and their mission. They’re not just passive consumers, but active participants in the creative movement.

So don’t fixate on follows and views. Those shallow numbers mean zilch if your audience remains uninvolved and disengaged. Instead, closely watch metrics like:

  • Comments, sharing, in-depth discussions
  • Email list growth and open rates
  • Sizes of private fan communities
  • Word-of-mouth sharing and unprompted mentions
  • Crowdfunding donations and financial support
  • Social impact

These numbers reveal whether you’ve built a loyal tribe of believers who will wholeheartedly champion your creative cause, not just click and forget. That’s what truly matters.

2. Shifting Core Perspectives

The most revolutionary creators don’t simply entertain or inform – they fundamentally reshape the way people perceive reality. Their vulnerable stories and ideas profoundly alter viewers’ foundational worldviews and assumptions.

When your creations shake someone’s core beliefs to the very foundation, you’ve achieved an alchemical impact. Your courage as a storyteller has etched new neural pathways into their consciousness. That’s the purest form of influence.

Don’t just settle for content that’s consumed and forgotten in a flash. Strive to spark lasting paradigm shifts in your audience’s minds that transform how they experience the world. Keep a close eye on metrics like:


  • Testimonies of personal awakenings and transformations
  • Examples of applying your ideas to real life
  • Heated debates and discussions unpacking your philosophies
  • Derivative fan works expanding on the concepts you’ve shared

If people are putting your ideas into daily practice, passionately debating their implications, and creating inspired works of their own – you’ve become far more than just another content creator. You’ve catalysed an evolution of human thinking and consciousness itself.

3. Creating Real-World Momentum

But the ultimate measure of a creator’s success?

When their stories and ideas galvanise tangible action and positive change out in the real world. When your convictions spark real-life movements and manifest genuine progress, you’ve fulfilled your sacred duty as a visionary force for good.

History’s most legendary creators don’t just captivate minds – they mobilise their fans to take their world-shifting ideas and run with them fullforce. Their influence shapes new organisations, legislation, technologies, and social philosophies that remake society.

At this level of seismic impact, metrics to watch include:

  • New companies, projects, or initiatives directly inspired
  • Activism, fundraising, and grassroots movements catalysed
  • Policy changes, reforms, and new laws influenced
  • Charitable pounds and dollars raised for important causes
  • Physical communities, gatherings, and meetups formed

When your vulnerable truth-telling catalyses new organisations dismantling old systems, changes laws and policies for the better, financially bolsters noble causes, and assembles communities of like-minded souls – that’s when you secure your rank among culture’s most indispensable visionaries and changemakers.

The Choice Is Yours

Are you ready to let go of your fixation on those empty vanity metrics and unleash the world changing creative vision burning within you?

Are you ready to judge your worth by your positive impact on others?

Will your vulnerable storytelling expand people’s minds and shift their core perspectives on life?

Will your impassioned voice spark tangible real-world movements and genuine positive change?

These are the legacy-defining yardsticks that reveal whether you sparked a true cultural revolution through your art. Simple data points confirming if your courageous truth-telling carved an indelible mark on the human story.

The choice rests with you – keep chasing those soulless metrics and ignore your true potential? Or fearlessly create the myths and narratives that will inspire generations to come, while relentlessly quantifying success by the seismic cultural shifts your raw creativity unleashed upon the world.

The power to change reality through your art belongs to you alone.

What’s it going to be?

What is an example of a social impact?

A powerful example of social impact is TOMS Shoes’ “One for One” program, where for every pair of shoes purchased, a pair is donated to a child in need. This initiative not only provides footwear to those who can’t afford it but also helps protect against soil-transmitted diseases in developing countries.


What is a KPI for measuring social impact?

 key performance indicator (KPI) for measuring social impact could be the number of individuals positively affected by a specific initiative. For example, a nonprofit organisation that provides free meals to the homeless could track the number of meals served each day, week, or month as a KPI to gauge their impact on the community.

How do you measure social impact?

Measuring social impact involves tracking specific metrics related to the goals of your initiative. This can include quantitative data such as the number of people reached, amount of resources distributed, or percentage increase in a desired outcome. Qualitative data, like testimonials and case studies, can also provide valuable insights into the real-world effects of your efforts.

How do you analyse social impact?

Analysing social impact involves examining the data collected through measurement and assessing the effectiveness of your initiative. This can include comparing outcomes to benchmarks, identifying trends over time, and evaluating the cost-effectiveness of your approach. By analysing your impact, you can make data-driven decisions to optimise your strategy and maximise your positive influence

What are social impact indicators?

Social impact indicators are specific, measurable factors that demonstrate the effect of an initiative on a community or population. These can include metrics such as the unemployment rate, high school graduation rate, or access to healthcare services. By tracking these indicators over time, organisations can assess the success of their efforts and identify areas for improvement.

How do you write a social impact statement?

A social impact statement is a concise summary of the positive change your organisation aims to create in the world. To write one, start by clearly defining your mission and the specific problem you are trying to solve. Next, outline the actions you are taking to address this issue and the measurable outcomes you hope to achieve. Finally, emphasise the broader implications of your work and the long-term vision for your impact. Keep it brief, compelling, and focused on the tangible change you are making in people’s lives.

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By Matt
I'm the Creative Director at Bona Parle. I'm also a freelance portrait and headshot photographer, award-winning filmmaker, film Colourist and a multi-award winning LGBTQ+ human rights campaigner. For part of my week I lead a successful UK-based charity that brings families closer to together.