[This was originally posted several weeks ago. For some reason, the link to the original post is broken and fixing it is beyond my meager web skills. Since there were more than a couple requests for the post, it is reproduced here.]

Alia and I recently had the pleasure of spending a few days with 120 friends and colleagues at the 2014 Web of Change conference. One of the recurring conversations among this seasoned and accomplished group of digital communicators was the growing problem of vanity metrics.

A vanity metric is a measure that looks great in a CEO’s memo to her Board, but are not in fact useful indicators that anything is  being accomplished. A notorious example, and perhaps one of the most pernicious vanity metrics of all, is email list size.

It’s not only possible, it’s bloody likely, that your list is composed mainly of people who don’t know they’re on your list at all and who never open or engage with your emails. It’s equally likely that a small percentage, perhaps 10%, of the list consists of would-be super-volunteers and lifelong donors, who get nno special recognition or treatment.  For the most part, communications are geared to the swollen majority who are not paying any attention at all.

The notion that a rock solid, responsive, productive list is more important than a big fat total is a hard sell to the C-suite. But it’s more important than ever to try.