A Guide to Reach vs Impressions

April 4th, 2022 by

Reach and impressions are two commonly used terms in the world of social media marketing. Given their common occurrence, it would surely be safe to assume that their importance is clear? 

Well simply put, no. Marketers often encounter these terms but it is not always transparently obvious what makes each metric so important. 

If your business is striving for better brand awareness and doing everything possible to influence your audience on social media, understanding the difference between reach vs impressions is crucial. 

Anywhere from Facebook to Instagram, you need to be considering what these metrics mean to you. 

Many understand the cruciality of having strong social media engagement, but if you are to realise your true social potential, accurately measuring your metrics will give you an insight into how you can improve your strategy. 

Let’s run through a short crash course on reach vs impressions and answer a few FAQs, so you can get a better understanding of what they are and then work on measuring them!

Reach vs impressions: Are they the same thing?

The easy answer to this question is no, and although they are somewhat similar to the untrained eye, they play a very different role in social performance analysis. 

Reach is the total number of people who see your content. Impressions are the number of times your content was displayed regardless of whether it was clicked on or ignored. 

Reach vs Impressions: Why are impressions higher than reach?

This question can be answered simply by outlining a deeper definition of reach vs impressions. Reach defines the number of unique viewers of the content, essentially how many individual people saw your post, with each person counting as 1. 

Impressions, on the other hand, measure how many times the content was seen in general, if the same person saw the same piece of content 5 times through different means (e.g. friends sharing) this would count as 5 different, individual impressions. 

Reach vs Impressions: Which is more important?

Well, this is entirely dependent on your goals as a business. Impressions can give an indication of people revisiting your content, or people sharing your content which means people will see it again. 

This can point you in the direction of content that people are resonating with and choosing to rewatch, to help you identify what content works best for your channels. 

Reach plays a different role and is a great way to measure how much awareness your brand is garnering through social, and can help you decipher if your social strategy is working or not.

What is more important, reach or engagement? 

These two metrics go hand in hand.  

When looking at reach and engagement on Instagram, if you take a brand like Moschino for example, it has over 11 million followers on its page, but posts from the brand don’t garner anywhere near as many engagements as that, and this is because not all of their followers will see the post on their feed. 

Therefore, as a brand/social media manager, you would be able to measure the engagement rate on the post in relation to the reach. You would compare the number of individual engagements against the number of individual people who have viewed the post. 

 Facebook and Instagram reach vs. impressions:

On Facebook reach and impressions are measured in three different categories, 

  1. Organic – this represents the number of people who are viewing your content – for free- in their newsfeed
  2. Paid – This is the number of people who viewed your paid content such as 
  3. Viral – This is the number of times content from your page was viewed in a story published by a friend of the viewer.

But of course, if you remember, reach and impressions each represent a different measurement!

What does reach mean for you?

As reach increases, as does your brand awareness, as a business expanding your reach as wide as possible is crucial. 

However, make sure your content has a strong message, because even if you’re reaching 1,000,000 people with your content, if only 1,000 are interested then it is a wasted endeavour. There is no value gained when messaging is ignored, so design a strong content strategy to compliment your rising reach. 

Finally, make sure to keep an eye on the content that is being shared, retweeted, liked or replied to, by tracking this, you can more easily find new users to target and extend your reach even further. 

What do impressions mean for you?

Impressions measure your ability to give your intended audience access to your content, when impressions rise, your content is likely to appear more often onto users’ social feeds. 

When impressions are high, it is an indication that your content is optimised for the channel it is on, but when they are low this is an indication to look at your content and think ‘why isn’t this working?’

The only way to know if your social strategy is working is to regularly monitor and analyse these metrics, and use these measurements to adapt, make improvements and experiment with new ideas. 

Our Influencer marketing agency and Social agency are located worldwide, with our agency network based in the USA, UK, UAE and China.

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