The Possibility of vanity metrics (and copying others)

I see a good deal of startup entrepreneurs copying successful businesses. The entrepreneurs observe what those companies do and assume it would work for them. Or they attribute the success of a business to a specific strategy or practice.

The confusion has gotten worse with the publication of “The 4-Hour Workweek.” By way of instance, a lot of entrepreneurs and companies search for social proof from the beginning. They hope to get featured on media outlets or gain a ton of social networking followers until the company has achieved success and altered clients’ lives, which would cause those things to happen naturally.

It is not all bad. It is just advertising, even quite good marketing. But, copying what others do can cause unintended outcomes.

Following is a story of how it went hilariously weird for me.

Back in the early days of FringeSport, I was obsessed with building our audience. I had been interested in what I believe are vanity metrics — the largest email list, tons of Facebook enjoys, the most Instagram followers.

The trouble with this approach is when you pursue vanity metrics, you may end up with many followers but not a great deal of results.

… when you pursue vanity metrics, you may end up with many followers but not a great deal of results.

Years ago I understood that Instagram was an up-and-coming station for brands. I had friends who had attracted many followers on Instagram. They explained that FringeSport could do it, too.

So I hatched a plan: Get as many Instagram followers as possible. Not only did I need Instagram followers for FringeSport, but I also wanted to build my own personal feed. The more overall followers the better, so I believed.

My aim was to use my private Instagram to put out a more comprehensive message about FringeSport. I also believed that my personal feed could establish my personal brand.

FringeSport could be the brand for our garage health and strength and conditioning efforts. However, what if I wanted to establish a traveling brand or become an authority in entrepreneurship? Certainly a huge following in my Instagram would help these efforts.

I got to work building my personal following — using white hat and grey hat practices. I monitored the posts (photographs ) that received the most response and then generated similar content.

Short shorts

There is an important aside here. I have always enjoyed short shorts. It comes from the fact that my dad is from Brazil, and my mom used to let me swim in Speedo-type swimsuits. When I was in school I played rugby (more short shorts). As soon as I got into strength and conditioning, I started exercising at a fitness center in Austin called Atomic Athlete. Among Atomic’s owners is an ex-Army Ranger. He introduced me to Ranger Panties.

Ranger Panties are incredibly short shorts. Oftentimes, they are shorter than boxer shorts. However, Army Rangers and other branches of the armed forces wear them with pride. And that is what we did in Atomic Athlete. We wore our brief Ranger Panties with pride.

Moreover, Austin, Texas, is sexy. We frequently work out with no tops.

The result is a whole lot of sweaty dudes, wearing Ranger Panties and not much else.

I began to notice my workout photographs, which I posted my private Instagram feed, received lots of engagement. I thought it was a fantastic thing. I said to myself,”All right, this is where I want to be. I want to be the short shorts man. That will be a part of my personal brand.”

After all, my follower count was climbing.

The first symptom of miscommunication was when I began getting plenty of direct messages on the platform. And, coincidentally, the messages were largely from men. They would often ask what I was doing, but nothing regarding FringeSport or entrepreneurship.

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And then the underwear began to appear. 1 man began sending fresh underwear from Amazon. And then he began sending direct messages asking to see pictures of me wearing this underwear.

Call me slow. But that is when I got it.

I had managed to construct a following in the gay community. My followers evidently enjoyed seeing the pictures of me wearing shorts while sweaty. There is nothing wrong with that. However, to quote the famous Seinfeld episode, it was not the demographic I was going for!

The seasoned caused me to think twice about my personal brand, and after others.

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