Reach vs. Impressions: What’s the Difference And What Should You Track?

Aug 09, 2018

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Reach vs. Impressions: What’s the Difference And What Should You Track? 

Both reach and impressions are crucial metrics to involve in any social media strategy, but they’re often muddled up or used interchangeably. It doesn’t help that they can have different meanings on different platforms, too. 

In short, Impressions are the number of times your content has been displayed, while reach is the total number of people who have seen it. Note that neither term indicates anyone has actually read the content, let alone clicked on it. 

About impressions

Your analytics software counts an impression every time your content lands in someone’s social media feed, regardless of how many people read or watch it. As impressions track appearances in feeds, not individual viewers, this figure will often be higher than your number of followers. 

Why track impressions?

Impressions can be a useful way of telling how many ads your users are seeing. No one wants to spam their potential customers, and if your metrics suggest that individuals are getting multiples of the same ad in their feed, you can change your strategy accordingly. At other times, increasing impressions might be the right move, and if the numbers are particularly low it could be a sign that your content needs attention.

What’s meant by reach

This number counts real people, rather than the number of times content appears, so it can give an idea of the potential audience size for each message. Facebook’s definition of reach is: “The number of people who saw your ads at least once.” 

Why track it?

As with impressions, reach can be a useful way to tell how your content is doing. For example, if you can see it’s getting in front of a lot of people, but not converting to clicks, it might need tweaking. Combining with other metrics can be helpful, here. You can work out a useful engagement percentage by dividing numbers of replies, retweets and so on by your reach number. This should give a sense of how many people are really engaging with your content. 

Which numbers you pay attention to will depend on the nature of the campaign. While mitigating ‘ad fatigue’ is often a good move, maximising impressions might be a better strategy for an intensive, time-sensitive promotion. Together, reach and impressions deliver vital information about how often your content is appearing, and whether that frequency is working.

Category: social media tips

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