One of the biggest dilemmas faced by social media users and marketers is ‘reach vs. impressions.’ These two social media metrics may sound like buzzwords but are extremely crucial when it comes to assessing and optimizing your business social media strategy. If you too are confused between the two and wish to understand them, then you have come to the right place.
These two-engagement metrics can provide you with crucial insights that you need for strategizing better and grow your customer base. Let’s start.
1- What Does Reach Mean?
Reachdenotes the total number of users who have viewed your content. Here it’s important to understand that regardless of the company size, your content may not always reach your target audience on social media. Therefore, the term ‘reach’ indicates the percentage of the audience that ends up seeing your posted content.
The key reason why only a small percentage gets to see your post each time they are uploaded is due to the site’s algorithm and partly because of the frequency and time chosen for posting.
Let’s look at an example to understand it better:
Hershey’s is an established brand with over 9.9 million fans on its Facebook page. Surprisingly, their Facebook page doesn’t have the kind of engagement that you would expect from a global brand. Only a small number of fans get to see their posts in their newsfeed while an even smaller group engages with the content in the form of comments and likes.
On Facebook, about 10% of users that you reach will engage with your ad, which makes it obvious why you would wanta higher reach as that results in a higher engagement rate, and this increases your conversion rate, which is the end goal.
Put simply, ‘reach’ is a crucial engagement metric that can’t be ignored. Therefore, instead of focusing on the number of followers your social media pages have, you should be focused on the ‘reach’ of your content. By understanding the importance of this metric,you’ll manage toformulate better strategies. It will also allow you to optimize content strategically and smartly to improve organic reach.
2- What Does Impression Mean?
Impressionscan be defined as the number of times your content was shown or displayed to users. What’s important to note is that impressions are not unique to one user. That meansthe same user may come across the same post multiple times. Moreover, impressions are counted even for users who didn’t engage with the content after coming across it.
For example, let’s assume you view a post shared by a page you follow in your Facebook news feed, andthis post is then re-shared by three of your friends. That would count as 1 when you measure reach but as 4 when measuring impressions.
Why is that? It’s because the content was displayed to you from three sources—one from the official page, and three from your friends who happen to share it.Here’s a short video that may explain the matter more clearly for you:
3- Reach vs. Impressions—Understanding the Difference?
Reach and impressions may look the same, but they are poles apart in terms of engagement.However, the same principles apply to all social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
So, let’s assumeyou have 400 followers on Twitter, and you send a tweet that reaches all 400 of them. This shows that your reach and impressions are both 400. However, your next tweet is only viewed by 100 followers, indicating that your reach isonly for 100 followers, and your impressions will be 500—adding the 400 impressions from the last tweet.In conclusion, your follower count is lower than the generated number of impressions.
4- How to Expand Reach and Impressions?
By using different digital marketing strategies, you can easily expand your business reach and earn more impressions. The two best ways to expand reach and impressions are:
4.1- PPC Advertising
Creating custom PPC ad campaigns allows you toconnect with your online business. These paid ads appear in the search results right above the organic listings. Once you run your pay-per-click advertisement campaign, you can then monitor the campaign’s reach and impressions. This will help you determine the success rate of your campaign and tweak it accordingly to get better results.
Pay-per-click advertisementsfocus on people who are already using keywords to search for products and services your business offers online, thus helping you to get more qualified leads. So, if 500 people see your pay-per-click advertisement, your ad ‘reach’ will be 500. But if the same ad is shown 700 times, you will earn 700 impressions.
Therefore, it won’t be wrong to say that by monitoring reach and impressions, you can determine the popularity of thetargeted keyword in comparison to the number of people who clicked on your advertisement.
4.2- Social Media Marketing
Another digital marketing strategy that allows you to monitor reach and impressions is social media marketing. Social media marketing provides an excellent way to see how your content is shared on social media pages. You can use SMM to view if your content is being shared.
Moreover, you can also keep track of your paid social media ad’s reach and impressions. Taking this step allows you to determine information about new leads that click on your ad compared to the number of times they view them. You canclosely monitor the performance of your ad and evaluate its effectiveness.
5- Importance of Tracking Reach and Impressions
If you’ve been involved in social media marketing for some time, you must already have realized the importance of tracking reach and impressions. It gives you more than a good idea of the performance of your social media posts and the content you’re sharing online. Here are some more reasons why you should be tracking reach and impressions. These include:
5.1- Evaluate the Effectiveness of Your Ads
Once you invest in your PPC campaign or social media ad, you want to know if they are effective and deliver the desired results. The reach and impressions can give you insight into the effectiveness of your campaign. For example, if your ad doesn’t perform well in terms ofreach but has a lot of impressions, it’s an indication that your ad isn’t effective or lacks the‘wow’ factor that engages audiences.
It’s a wake-up call for you to rethink the structure of your advertisement to make itmore appealing for your audience. Re-strategizing will help produce better campaign results and improve your reach.
5.2- Measure Brand Awareness
As a business, you want your target audience to be familiar with your brand, so they choose you over the rest of your competition. This is where reach and impressions play a critical role as tracking them helps you measure howfamiliar your audience is with your brand.
For example,if you see that bothreach and impressions on your posts are high, it’s a good sign thatyour campaign is reaching interested leads several times. It also shows that you’re successfully engaging and interacting with your audience through the content shared by your brand.
5.3- Identify Audience Growth
Growing your social media bases important for achieving exponential business growth.Social media platforms are interactive and hence can provide you with the reach and exposure that your brand needs. You can capitalize on this by understanding and tracking the two-engagement metrics ‘reach’ and ‘impressions.’
Based on the metrics, you can then create and develop the right kind of content, attracting more fans and followers who, in turn, view and share more of your content, resulting inhigher audience growth and better exposure.
5.4- Determine Audience Influence
What’s the purpose of audience building if you don’t influence them, and they don’t see your brand as an authority figure in the industry that you serve? It’s advised that you track the ‘reach’ and ‘impressions’ of your posts,so you can build and nurture strong relationships with your audience.
6- Learning More about Engagement Metrics
When it comes to understanding engagement metrics like ‘reach’ and ‘impressions,’ it’s crucial that you know they aren’t the same for all platforms. Each social media platform hasits ownreach and impressions metrics, and we’re going to be focusing on them in this section.
First, let’s look at the top three social media platforms to understand how the engagement metrics work on them:
6.1- Facebook Reach vs. Impressions
Facebook is the most popular and largestsocial media platformthat continues to evolve. The popularity of this platform can easily be gauged by the fact that 30 percent of internet users log onto Facebook more than once every day. This social network has more than 2.45 billion monthly active users, which is an 8% increase in the user base over the past year. Furthermore, users spend over 20 minutes every day on Facebook.
The level of user engagement on Facebookmakes it a great platform for both consumers and marketers. From the latest news to insights, pop-culture articles, dank memes, customer feedback, views, and opinions, Facebook provides you with everything.When we look at it from a marketing perspective, these insights are valuable as they help businesses make informed decisions and strategies that deliver results.
Looking at the massive potential for businesses on Facebook, it’s a no-brainer that brands want to capitalize on the digital platform, and the best way to do that is to become familiar with its engagement metrics.
Unlike other social media platforms,Facebook offers detailed and specific information about ‘reach’ and ‘impressions’ metrics. The platform gives access to detailed metrics, which can be used to make strategic decisions that will ensure success for social media marketing campaigns run by big brands.
What’s unique about Facebook when it comes to ‘reach’ and ‘impressions’ is that this is the only platform that breaks down both metrics by categories and post type. On Facebook, ‘reach’ falls into three categories:
Organic reach denotesthe number of unique users who have viewed your content in their newsfeed organically, i.e., without the push of your paid ad campaign. The ‘unique users’ metric represents users who viewed the content, and this metric ignores repeat views. Hence, you will learn how many users saw the content, whether they saw it once or repeatedly.
Paid reach represents the number of unique users who saw your content via the useof Facebook Ads.
Viral reach is the number of unique users who viewed your page or post due to the action of Facebook users who shared it. These users may or may not be following your page on Facebook but have viewed it because a Facebook friend shared it.
Numerous factors play a significant role in Facebook’s reach. Based on the type of reach that you wish to achieve, you may want to employ wildly contrasting strategies.You can easily improve your content and get better exposure by tracking the type of reach you want on Facebook.
For example, an increase in organic reach can result in more engagement and shares, while paid reach shows you how the money you’ve invested in your ads is helping you reach your target goals.Viral reach shows you how ‘liked’ or ‘relevant’ your content is with Facebook users and what you should do to develop similar viral content.
Tracking these components will help you develop a solid understanding of how your target audience is evolving. One of the best things about ‘reach’ on Facebook is that it’s not specific or limited to individual posts. In other words, it can be selected to view your business page metrics.
This gives you a better idea of the number of unique users that view one single post as compared to the number of users who viewed the content posted on your page.
Also, the ‘reach’ metric offered by Facebook helps you determine which segment of your audience is highly responsive to your promotional messages.Consequently,it helps you measure your marketing efforts accurately and gives you the clarity required for forming better and effective social media strategies.
Facebook usesEdgeRank, a complex algorithm that determines who views your content in their immediate network of followers and their friends. Different actions,such as developing shareable content, ensure a stronger EdgeRank. The stronger your EdgeRank, the better your content’s ‘reach.’
Likewise, Facebook impressions are also broken down into threecategories:
Organic impressions represent the number of times the content gotdisplayed via your page or in follower’snewsfeed. This reach is the one that is achieved organically and not by any paid ad campaign.
Paid impressions denotethe number of times that your paid content got viewed by users on Facebook with the help of Facebook Ads.
Viral impressions refer to the number of times your content on Facebook got viewed by the Facebook audience because users on the platform shared it.
By measuring Facebook impressions, you can ensure the success of your Facebook marketing efforts. Facebook impressions give you insights related to how users are engaging and reacting with your content and how many people have viewed and shared your content.
Furthermore, when tracking ‘impressions’ on Facebook,you should know about two more metrics, ‘served’ and ‘viewed.’
Which brings us to another important question: Do they matter? The short answer is ‘yes!’
Your business’s ad gets served on Facebook because the publisher (i.e., you or your social media manager) told the system to deliver the ad. So, when the system registers the delivery of an ad, it is counted as a success or a served impression. But it is a little sneaky as the system counts a success regardless of whetherthe ads were seen or not. Served impressionscan be inaccurate at times, and this can be observedwhen there is a gap between the number of ads served and the number of adsseen.
On the other hand, viewed impressions count from the moment the advertisement enters the desktop browser’s screen or the Facebook mobile app. If the ad doesn’t enter the screen, it won’t count.
6.2- Twitter Reach vs. Impressions
Twitter, unlike Facebook, does not measure ‘reach.’ It only tracks ‘impressions.’ This platform defines‘impressions’ as anytime your tweet is seen by the user. Atweet’simpression only gets counted when it shows up on someone’s mobile or desktop screen. It can either be in their search results, feed, or as part of a conversation.
Here’s an example to help you understand it better:
If you have 2,000 followers and all of them see your tweet or ad,then this tweet has received 2,000 ‘impressions.’ Now, let’s assume that you reply to the first tweet with another tweet. Here your followers will see two tweets—the original tweet and the new one, which is your reply to it. This results in an additional 4000 impressions, giving the tweet a total of 6,000 total impressions.
Remember that the way you use this platform will have a drastic impact on the average number of impressions/tweets. Also, note that replies to other people’s tweets will not get you the kind of impressions that you would otherwise if you publish tweets in the follower’s news feeds. Therefore, if you spend most of your time in replying to people, the number of impressions/tweets that will be reported in your analytics will be skewed downward.
In short, when you access Twitter analytics, you will see only impressions and total engagements but not ‘reach.’ Even when you expand the list and view all engagements, it will give you detailed insights about metrics like re-tweets, link clicks, and likes, but ‘reach’ will not be a part of it. As Twitter doesn’t track reach, you might want to use a third-party analytics tool to evaluate your ‘reach’ on Twitter.
You should alsomeasure tweet impressions as it indicates the strength of your brand presence. You can also pair these insights with other metrics to get a clearerpictureof your content’s relevance.
6.3- Instagram Reach vs. Impressions
Although this sounds appealing, it is important to note that impressions don’t take unique users into account.Therefore, it is not the best stand-alone metric to use when running a campaign on Instagram. So, use a combination of metrics to achieve the best results.
Here’s how to get started:
If you have a creator account or a business profile on Instagram, you can access the impressions metrics easily. All you have to do is click on ‘view insights’ under an Instagram post or swipe up the story that you want to view its performance.However, you will notice thatthe business profile doesn’t offer in-depth insights on ‘reach’ and ‘impressions,’but it does give you an overall idea about ‘reach’ and ‘impressions.’
Once you access Instagram analytics, you will be able to see the reach and impressions of your posts or stories. Additionally, you will be able to see the percentage of users you have reached that wasn’t following you. Instagram Analytics also shows you a breakdown of different impressions by a source such as hashtags, home, explore, and other sources.
If you wish to view a post’s general performance, you can access the activity tab of Instagram insights to see weekly ‘reach’ and ‘impressions.’You can see the numbers for ‘reach’ and ‘impressions’ in the ‘Discovery’ section. These numbers are shown at the bottom of the Insights page.
On the other hand, Stories Analyticsdoesn’t break down the source of impressions or the percentage of people that weren’t following you, but the number of userswho saw the story.However, it does show how many people saw the story and navigated back to the next story or went to the next story and how many users exited the story completely after seeing it.
If a user goes back to view your story one more time or they visited your Instagram profile several times, this won’t be counted as one reach but multiple impressions.
7- Reach vs. Impressions on Other Platforms
You can access four distinct reach metrics through YouTube Analytics. These include:
The unique viewers metricis like ‘reach.’ This shows the number of people who watched your videos.
Impressions display the number of times your video’s thumbnailwas shown to YouTube viewers.
Traffic Sources for Impressions show the location where on YouTube,the thumbnails of your videos were shown to the potential viewers.
Impressions CTR (Click Through Rate) shows the conversion rate. It displays how often users watched a video after being exposed to a thumbnail.
Just like YouTube, the concept of ‘reach’ and ‘impressions’ is the same. But the only difference is that impressions are called ‘story views.’
Google Analytics displays reach as ‘users,’ showing the number of people that visited your site during a specific time at leastonce.Impressions here are displayed as ‘Page Views,’ stating the total number of page views that come from all visitors.
If you are using Google Ads,you should know that Google Ads have two types of ‘reach’—unique reach and cookie-based reach. Unique reach measures the total number of usersthat were shown a Google Ad across devices, networks, and formats.
Unique reach can be divided into two further metrics:
Average impression frequency per user
Based on cookies, cookie-based reach is a metric calculated by counting the total number of cookies that have either recorded a click on the ad or served an ad. However, the cookie-based reach may calculate duplicate views.
8- Best Tips to Improve Your Reach and Impressions
As mentioned above, to drive better results for your digital marketing strategies, it is important to keep track of reach and impressions. Here are some of the best tips to help you improve these crucial metrics on social media platforms:
8.1- Get Insights about Your Audience
Remember thatyour campaign’s result depends on your audience’s response. Therefore, learn about your audience by getting insights about what they like and the type of content that they are interested in viewing.These insights will help you improve user experience and deliver better results.
The best way to get started is to create a campaign message, keeping your audience into consideration. Think about how your prospects will consume content and what they are likely to be interested in. Don’t worry if it doesn’t work. This is just a trial-and-error phase. Try to test different content types to see which tactics bring out a better response and which don’t. Also, you should monitor content to see where it is being shared, as it’s one of the easiest ways to understand what your audience likes and dislikes.
8.2- Monitor Engagement
Another great tip to improve reach and impressions is to monitor engagement, as it gives you insights on brand interaction with your audience. As mentioned earlier, impressions are indicative of how your content is being shared. Try to monitor content to see what content needs to be optimized to appeal better to your audience.
8.3- Produce Shareable Content
To improve reach and impressions, focus on creating share-worthy content, which is technically content that stirs engagement and compels the audience to share it.
Developing a solid understanding of impressions and reach won’t happen overnight. Therefore, if you want to save time and grow your business faster, it’s advised to work with a professional company experienced in developing result-based social media marketing campaigns, like SEO Resellers Canada. They will notonly help you monitor reach and impressions butprovide you with quality suggestions on how to improve social media marketing and get better results for your brand.
9- Final Takeaways
Since each social platform has a separate method for measuring reach and impressions, optimizing your campaigns with the help of these metrics can be complicated for those new to social media management. However, an experienced SEO and social media marketing company, like SEO Resellers Canada, can make a huge difference when it comes to gauging results of your current marketing campaign and harnessing data from metrics like ‘reach’ and ‘impressions’ to formulate winning social media campaigns that deliver results.
Jamie has more than two decades of experience in accelerating brand visibility for online businesses. His company operates SEOResellersCanada.ca, a white label SEO and digital marketing agency. With his unique and actionable business processes, agencies and small businesses can successfully expand online operations without the traditional associated cost overhead.
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