The Evolution of Meta’s Vanity Metrics

By Lauren Murphy.

A recent panel discussion at the EMEA 2023 Marketing Summit recommended a move away from old vanity metrics in light of new Meta algorithm changes. It is now recommended to be more targeted in your brand’s approach and long term thinking for strategy - as messages need time to land. With that in mind, let’s take a look back at the evolution of vanity metrics and wrap with some recommendations of how to plan future strategies effectively based on recent algorithm changes.

Facebook Likes (2004 - 2013)

No article about vanity metrics would be complete without talking about the biggest offender: Page Likes. In Facebook’s infancy (2004 - 2013) Page Likes actually did equate to Organic Reach. Even at that time, however, simply measuring the number of Facebook likes missed a plethora of important information such as their demographics, value, their quality, the context of those likes, their ongoing engagement and so on. To make matters worse, in the year 2014, Facebook’s organic reach dropped to below 3%. Meaning if you wanted to reach any of your follower audience you had to do so with targeted Paid Media. This left Page Likes largely redundant from an Organic Reach POV, further reducing their importance as a performance metric.

Vanity scale:


Ad Reach and Impressions (2021)

In recent years, reach and impression figures have lost some of their previous weight in importance as brands look for more detailed and actionable performance statistics. While reach and impressions are still of paramount importance when the business objective is to generate awareness, it is much less important in other instances where the objective of the strategy is different, for example, to drive consideration or to elicit a direct response like a purchase or an app download.

It is far more crucial in these instances that your ad is being served to the right audience, in the optimal format, in the right platform, and that it is optimized towards a user who is most likely to take the action you desire. Ultimately, whether your ad has had 100 or 100 million impressions doesn’t really matter if your objective is to elicit a response that you’re not getting. What does matter is that your KPI (eg: conversion rate or average order value) is being met from the ad budget spent.

Vanity scale:


Ad Likes, Comments and Shares (2022)

These traditional engagement metrics, that were very important in the past, have now also been replaced by more detailed and in depth performance metrics. Simply totting up the number of Likes, Comments and Shares is not enough anymore. Brands should look at these metrics and ask valuable questions that they can take action from like: What demographic of person is liking this post? Are meaningful conversations happening in the comments section? How influential are the people who are sharing this post and can we work with them further? The answers to these questions help shape your social media strategy, drive better performance results, and allow your posts to achieve higher rankings by Meta’s content algorithms.

Vanity scale:


Looking forward (2023)

There’s no ‘one size fits all’ when it comes to a social media strategy and measurement, but having clear objectives against each post and measuring the results based on KPIs associated with them is a solid place to start.

Depending on the overall campaign goals, your individual post objectives could be:

• Total reach per awareness posts
• Total ‘influencer’ post shares per consideration posts
• Video retention rates per consideration posts
• Clickthrough rates per conversion posts
• % of audience who took action on conversion posts
• Total sales per conversion posts

Coupled with this, it’s important to keep abreast of algorithm changes via Meta’s Blog for Media and planning your social strategy, content and media plans in a way that best plays to the ever-changing algorithm.

Check out the metric busting campaign we ran last year for Orchard Thieves Cider


A recent report released by Meta provides new insights into how its content distribution algorithms work. It highlighted 4 key elements that it factors into its video ranking – i.e. what it considers when deciding just how far your video posts will reach.

  1. Engagements - The algorithm will prioritize content that sparks conversations and meaningful interactions between real people. So it’s not just comments in themselves that Meta now looks to emphasize, but comments that trigger further response and conversation in-stream.
  2. Original work (not reposts) - The algorithm will prioritize unique content, created by you, and posted to your Page. Reposted content, or content with watermarks from other platforms will be penalized.
  3. Capture and Retain Attention - The algorithm will prioritize video content that inspires users to watch until the end. The algorithm will favor a storytelling approach where pages post a series of short form clips with strong completion rates, as opposed to long form content with poor retention rates.
  4. Loyalty and Intent - The algorithm will prioritize content that has an emphasis on repeat viewership. Pages that have users regularly coming back to view that account’s videos will reach a wider audience.