The Value of Data (and the Foolishness of Vanity)

I have grown to love numbers. Numbers make clients happy.  Stepping from one number to the next gets you where you want to go. You can build a lot atop numbers. You can grow your audience. You can develop a user base. Your ads get clicked and viewed. The numbers pile up. But what numbers really matter?

Startup founders can become hypnotized by the vanity metric. The ‘hockey stick’ growth of  user adoption that actually does not indicate any revenue. The Twitter followers who are bought and paid for, who aren’t your audience at all. The Facebook and Instagram likes at a buck a click. The mailing list subscribers who actually don’t open and don’t read your newsletter.

There are only a few numbers that matter. Revenue and income, you’ll say, and you would be right. But in the warm-and-fuzzy world of marketing awareness and other soft targets there are some funny numbers that matter.

Potential users seek validation when they look at social media user counts. If your startup has 10 Facebook friends, it isn’t a good sign. If your …

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