The ancient parable of likes versus impact

How you measure success determines what kind of content you're create. And according to this parable, one metric is better than all the rest.

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Something that’s been bothering me for a long time is that we use the wrong metrics to track the success of our content.

It’s all about:

- Reach

- Engagement

- Likes

- New subscribers / followers

- Click through rate

These metrics are low hanging fruit because they are so easy to measure. And they make sense if you are a direct response marketer.

But what is precarious is that most creators track their success this way too. Which is indicative of the real purpose of the content they create.

It’s all about me: My audience, my growth, my brand, my income.

But what if you were to track a different metric:


Or rather, the number of people who take action or make a change based on your advice.

Difficult to measure, to be sure. But I believe this is the best metric to follow for a couple of reasons.  

When your success is tied to the outcomes of your customers, you are aligned with them. You have what Nassim Taleb calls “skin in the game.” It’s a win-win situation.

Contrast that with an industry like insurance. Their business model is dependent on them NOT paying you. This means every outcome is a win-lose or lose-win at best.  

This is what it’s like if your entire focus is on growing your audience. Your goal isn’t to help people, it’s to get their attention.

“But Andrew, don’t you have to get somebody’s attention before you can help them?” You ask.

Yes, but there are many ways to do this.

You could interrupt everyone on social media.

Or you could focus on creating impact. Impact leads to results. Results lead to happy customers. Happy customers leave testimonials and make referrals. And when someone is referred to you, they take you much more seriously than a random prospect on Facebook.

You have their attention.

There is an old parable of two men who were tasked by their king with bringing water to the village.

One man went out and started hauling buckets. It was hard work, but he delivered water immediately and consistently.

The other man went home and drafted up plans for a pump station and pipeline. It took him 5 years to build it.

For those first 5 years, everyone relied on the guy carrying buckets. That was the optimal strategy. But it was over in an instant. He could only carry so many buckets. He could only hustle so hard.

The man who built the pipeline flipped a switch and delivered more water than the village could use. And he didn’t even break a sweat.  

This analogy fits well with the idea of likes vs impact.

You can go out and chase likes every day. But no matter how much you do it, you’re still going to have to get up and chase likes tomorrow.

Impact lasts. It is sustainable. And in some cases even compounds on itself, bringing you a seemingly unending supply of new leads.  

Of course, this idea of prioritizing impact over likes isn’t new. It’s simply a reframing of Kevin Kelly’s article, “1000 true fans.”

If you’re struggling mentally, remember that it takes a long time to build a pipeline. But rest assured that it will pay off in the long run.

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