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Social media analytics are a very powerful tool. They are positively powerful if you understand them properly and negatively powerful if you don’t. When we don’t understand what various metrics are telling us, we can easily mistake the information to mean something other than what it does. Then, thinking we’re doing well, we carry on without changing anything and inadvertently do more damage than good. Alternatively, we think we aren’t doing well and change something that is actually working, again to the detriment of our business.

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Understanding analytics can be tricky, especially because many of the metrics that social platforms like Pinterest give us make us think that bigger is better and that is simply not true. To be objective in our analysis of our metrics we first have to understand that metrics can be broken into two groups – vanity metrics and real metrics.

Take for example the number of followers you have on Facebook. It’s both easy and common to think that the more followers you have the better your business will do. While this makes logical sense, the truth is, if those followers are not engaging then that is actually harming your standing in the algorithm, rather than helping it. Overall, you’re better off having a lower number of followers who regularly engage with your content. In this case, the number of followers is a vanity metric, the engagement rate of those followers is a real metric.

The same is true for understanding Pinterest analytics. Let’s take a look at a couple of specific metrics so you can see what we mean. Let’s use Susie Q Sandals as our example.

Susie has heard that Pinterest is the up and coming platform to be on and knows it’s time to take it seriously for her business. She got herself all setup on Pinterest with her business account (since only business accounts have analytics) and she’s started repinning awesome pins from other pinners and sharing her own original content too.

Within the first couple of weeks of having her account, Susie notices that her monthly viewers count is several hundred. She thinks to herself ‘wow, I’m really killin’ it here!’ Over the course of the next couple of months she continues sharing pins and watching that monthly viewers count soar. It’s into the thousands already! She doesn’t have any sales yet, but she thinks it’s okay because it takes time and she’s got tons of monthly viewers.

Before Susie knows it a few months have passed and her monthly viewers count is still climbing, she’s still saving pins, but she hasn’t had any sales. What the heck is going on?

The monthly viewers metric is a vanity metric. It’s also a very misleading indicator for how well your account is performing. What people fail to realize is this number counts people who are seeing content that is not original to you – it counts views on all of the pins you’ve repinned too. Many of these monthly viewers are looking at pins that will never connect those viewers to you.

If our goal is sales, which it usually is for people in business, then the number of people viewing content that will never lead them to the place they can buy from us, is virtually irrelevant. As a pinner, Susie could have an entire profile with content that was never original to her. That would mean that not one single viewer would click through her pins to the place they could shop from her. Every pin she saves would be directing those monthly viewers to someone else. So, whether she has 1 monthly viewer or 100,000 monthly viewers she will still have 0 sales.

The monthly viewers metric is also overvalued because it is located in a prominent spot on your screen. As soon as you login and go to your profile, you see that number. Pinterest wants you to see that number because it’s big and it makes you feel like the platform is working incredibly well for you. The better you think it’s working the more you’ll keep coming back, which is ultimately in Pinterest’s best interest.  

So, while Susie thinks Susie Q Sandals is being seen by hundreds or thousands of viewers every month, you can see how that metric is not an accurate representation of people who could turn into customers.

Let’s look at another example of a metric that is easily misunderstood. Pin views is another analytic that we would call a vanity metric. On any pin that you’ve saved, original to you or not, Pinterest will show you how many views it has had. What people generally fail to realize is that this count includes “views” of people who scroll right past your content without even registering that it’s there.

If you’re not sure what we mean, think about yourself when you use Pinterest. How many pins do you scroll right past before one catches your attention? You would be counted as a view for every one of those pins that you have no intention of engaging with.

So, while a lot of people may be “viewing” your pin, the metric gives us a false sense of how many people are actually interested in our content. Remember, we are on Pinterest to find new people that we can ultimately turn into paying customers. People who are scrolling straight past our content are not going to convert to customers.

Now that you see what vanity metrics are all about, we can talk about what we classify as real metrics. The most important real metric on Pinterest is Clicks!

In order for you to convert someone on Pinterest into a customer, you have to get them to the place where they can connect with you. For most people this will be a website of some sort – either a replicated company website, or your own website. It can also be a Facebook page or group, a YouTube channel, a Podcast, etc. We have to get them to “click” through your pin to the place where the content lives.

The number of clicks we have on our own original content tells us much more accurately the number of people who could potentially become paying customers. They are the people who are interested enough in our content to seek out the full version. That number is real and relevant and should be given the most consideration in your Pinterest strategy. It tells us something very specific to our individual profile and that’s why Clicks is considered a real metric.

You can even take this metric a step further by using it to help build out your content strategy. Pay attention to the pins that are receiving the most clicks, as that tells you what your potential customers are most interested in.  

As you can see, monthly viewers does not equal customers and pin views does not equal sales. So, while they appear to be useful metrics, they are  not truly providing you the information you need to make strategic and effective decisions about your business on Pinterest. By understanding vanity metrics from real metrics it is easy to use the analytics Pinterest provides to effectively build your Pinterest strategy.

This is just a small section of the Complete Guide to Pinterest course from our friends over at Fresh Take Training. You can grab the full course here.

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