Beyond Vanity Metrics: Toward better measurement of member engagement

Download Beyond Vanity Metrics

We all want to know if the work we do is making a difference. But while “vanity metrics” such as list size or pageviews sound big and impressive, they can be misleading. Ultimately, they can lead to flawed decisions that doom membership-driven organizations.

What are the pitfalls of “vanity metrics”? Why do we rely on them? What are some alternatives? In short, are there better ways to measure how engaged members are with your organization?

These are just a handful of the questions tackled in the new report, Beyond Vanity Metrics: Toward a Better Measurement of Member Engagement, presented by Citizen Engagement Lab and the Mobilisation Lab at Greenpeace. In this report, you’ll find:

  • The five common pitfalls of vanity metrics that create potential danger for people-powered organizations, and why we rely on them anyway.
  • The two key questions to ask about any key metric to understand how it influences your work.
  • The difference between the “Starters” and the “Seekers,” the two broad categories that most online campaigning organizations fall into, and how to tell which one best describes you.
  • Where to go next, from existing alternatives to potential starting points and advice for moving forward.
  • Concrete tips and questions to ask yourself to change the way your organization approaches metrics, alter the metrics you rely upon, and transform how you engage your membership.

Authored by veteran campaigner Colin Holtz, with advisors Jackie Mahendra and Michael Silberman, Beyond Vanity Metrics is based on methodology that includes in-person information gathering, an online survey, and in-depth interviews with leading practitioners.

In May, 2015, Colin Holtz and Bhavik Lathia from Color of Change joined us on MobLab Live to talk about vanity metrics. Watch a recording of their conversation here.

Read more about moving beyond vanity metrics at Stanford Social Innovation Review.

Beyond Vanity Metrics is a project of Citizen Engagement Lab and the Mobilisation Lab at Greenpeace.