Digital Traces in Context| Otherwise Engaged: Social Media from Vanity Metrics to Critical Analytics

Richard Rogers


Vanity metrics is a term that captures the measurement and display of how well one is doing in the “success theater” of social media. The notion of vanity metrics implies a critique of metrics concerning both the object of measurement as well as their capacity to measure unobtrusively or only to encourage performance. While discussing that critique, this article focuses on how one may consider reworking the metrics. In a research project I call critical analytics, the proposal is to repurpose alt metrics scores and other engagement measures for social research and measure the “otherwise engaged” or other modes of engagement (than vanity) in social media, such as dominant voice, concern, commitment, positioning, and alignment. It thereby furnishes digital methods—or the repurposing of platform data and methods for social research—with a conceptual and applied research agenda concerning social media metrics.


social media, digital methods, alt metrics, vanity metrics, critical analytics

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