Digital Marketing

Why You Need to Know the Difference

Regardless of the type of business you run, social media marketing can be highly effective when it comes to reaching out to your target market. Never before was it so easy to precisely target an audience without burning a hole in your wallet. However, the fact is, true social media marketing success only comes to those who regularly analyze their analytics. And learn from their own performance.

In order to see how well you are reaching your social media marketing goals, it’s crucial to focus on the right metrics from the beginning. That’s the only way you’d be able to improve your efforts and get a higher return on your investment in the long run.

When leveraging social media marketing, two critical metrics to monitor and understand are:  “Reach” vs “Impressions”.

If you have managed a Facebook Page before, you may have already come across the “Reach” metric. Upon making a post via your business page, your Facebook shows you the number of people you were able to “reach” with your post.

Facebook reach

In the above example it can be seen that 104 individual Facebook users have seen this post. In other words, this many people have had the post displayed on their screen in their newsfeed.

If you’ve used Facebook Ads in the past, you should already know how both, Reach and Impressions are displayed together, side by side.

reach vs impressions

Every social media marketer has read into these two crucial metrics (Reach vs Impressions) at some point in time. But not all of them put in the effort to truly understand what they mean. Also, it’s easy to confuse Reach with Impressions and vice versa. However, these terms have their own definitions, and they differ in a major way.

Each of these metrics is important in its own right. Unless and until you spend time analyzing them, you will fail to get the most out of your social media marketing campaign.

Even if you do acknowledge the importance of social media engagement and how it can impact the overall success of your campaign, you still need a firm strategy to succeed. You can only have a proper strategy in place when you properly measure these important metrics and see what you can do to improve your efforts.

Here’s why it’s crucial to know the real difference between Reach vs Impressions:

Difference Between Reach and Impressions

1. Brand Awareness

If your reach increase, it would definitely also increase awareness. A post’s reach is important to every brand. They have to reach as many users as possible. But keep in mind that even if a post reaches 5,000 users, it will be pointless if only a quarter of them are truly interested in what you offer.

So if you’re using popular social media channels (such as Facebook and Twitter) to build brand awareness, then you need to know how Reach differs from Impressions. Or else you will end up investing your time and effort in the wrong direction. Which may hurt your brand image rather than improving it in the eyes of your target audience.

2. Audience Growth

Growing your social media audience allows you to reach out to new people and expose them to your brand and products. Knowing the key difference between Reach vs Impressions and understanding these metrics will help you create the right kind content. Content that attracts more fans and followers. Who in turn share more of your content, leading to higher growth.

3. Audience Influence

What’s the use of building an audience if you’re not influencing them and consistently growing your authority? Knowing your Reach as well as your Impressions allows you to build and nurture strong relationships with your existing fans and followers.

Before you can start measuring Reach vs Impressions, you first need to learn more about these two metrics, and get more clarity on how they work.

Reach vs Impressions: Defining Reach

Reach denotes the total number of users who actually got to view your content. Contrary to popular belief, your content does not reach all of your social media followers/fans — even if you’re a big company like Pepsi or Starbucks with millions of followers.

Since you spend so much time building your follower base, it’s only natural to want all of them to see your content. But the truth is, only a small percentage of them (about 10% or less) end up seeing it each time you post. This is partly due to the site’s algorithm and partly because of your posting time and frequency.

For instance, even though Hershey’s has 9.9 million fans on Facebook, their post doesn’t have as much engagement as it should. Only a small number of their fans actually get to see their post in their newsfeed. And an even a smaller group engages with the content in terms of likes and comments.

engagement reach and impressions

Since “Reach” is only the measure of how many people see your content, it’s a metric you cannot afford to ignore. Instead of looking at the total number of followers your page has, you should focus on how many people you were able to reach out to. This helps you optimize your content and work on improving your organic reach.

reach on Facebook

Reach vs Impressions: Defining Impressions

Impressions refer to the count of how many times your content was displayed to users.

This metric vastly differs from reach, which only measures the number of people that have viewed your content. Impressions are not unique to one user, which means the same piece of content can be displayed to the same user multiple times. Also, impressions are counted even for those users who haven’t engaged with your content.

So if you “see” a post shared by a page you follow (eg: Red Bull) in your Facebook newsfeed, which is then re-shared by two of your friends, it would count as “one” when you’re measuring Reach. On the other hand, it would count as three impressions because the content was shown to you from three different sources: one from the official page that posted the content, and two from your friends who shared it.

Facebook engagement

Let’s understand this with an example. Say your cousin goes on a family holiday and posts pictures to their Facebook account. Which will then be displayed in their own newsfeed and will be shared with their friends/followers, including you. Whether you see the post or not, the “Impressions” will continue to be counted. But when you actually “see” it, only then will you be included in the “Reach” metric.

Reach vs Impressions: Understanding the Two Metrics Better

For many new social media marketers, Reach vs Impressions may look the same on the surface, when in reality, they are not. If you look deeper you’ll see that they differ in terms of engagement. Whether you are on Facebook or Twitter, the same principles apply, which means your understanding of reach vs impressions doesn’t change.

So if you have 500 followers on your Twitter account, and one of your tweets reaches all of your 500 followers, then your reach and impressions both are 500.

However, your next tweet is only seen by 250 of your followers. In this case, your reach will be 250, but your impressions will be 1,000 – adding the 500 impressions from your last tweet. This is exactly why your follower count is often lower than the number of impressions generated.

impressions generated

For some this whole “Reach vs Impressions” measuring may sound confusing and even challenging to understand. However, if you turn a blind eye to these metrics, it’ll become difficult to track how successful or not-so-successful your social media campaign is. Unless you know what to fix, how will you fix it?

Once again, to make both these metrics clear, understand that “Reach” is the total number of users who have viewed your content. And impressions is the amount of times your content is displayed to users.

Reach vs Impressions: What Metric Should You Focus On?

If you ask any experienced social media marketer, he or she will tell you that measuring metrics effectively is what ultimately helps you win the social media game. When you focus on the right metrics from the start, you’ll find growth is easier to come by and the ROI is much better.

Whether you should focus on the Reach metric or the number of Impressions (or both) completely depends on what you’re trying to achieve with your social media marketing. If you know your goal and are clear about it, it’ll be easier to take advantage of these two powerful metrics.

impressions vs reach

For many brands, especially the new and emerging ones, the goal is to reach out to a new audience and attract more customers. They are more concerned about expanding their business in every possible way. In such a scenario, the Reach metric is the most appropriate measurement to look at. It’ll help you as a brand to understand how your social media marketing efforts are helping you become a bigger company.

However, if you are at a stage where your goal is to impress your current prospects/customers and get repeat business while building a brand, then it makes sense to focus on boosting the number of impressions.

People who are familiar with your brand and products may give you more business when they notice consistency. While you’re focusing on nurturing your current audience, you’ll also be able to reach out to new audiences by default.

reach vs impressions

When it comes to Reach vs Impressions, it’s not about which metric is better. But more about how well you understand and analyze these two important metrics together.


Because other social media metrics such as shares, clicks, and likes will only make sense to you when you study them along with reach and impressions. Proper analysis not only gives you the bird’s view of your campaign but also a detailed understanding of how your social media marketing is working for your brand.

Remember, as a business your social media marketing strategy gets shaped and strengthened by consistently analyzing the right metrics. So just the way it’s important to have proper social media marketing goals in place, it’s also critical that you keep measuring your success to see how close you are to these goals.

Reach vs Impressions: How the Metrics Work on Facebook

Every social network you are operating on, you will find various kinds of metrics to measure. But when you’re using social media for marketing purposes, Facebook is a different beast altogether.

While most social networking platforms don’t go into too much detail or specifics when it comes reach vs impressions, Facebook does. Since it is the biggest and the most popular social network out there, it gives you access to detailed metrics that can help you make your social media marketing campaign successful.

When it comes to improving and growing your campaign, it’s extremely important to know what’s working and what’s not. Fortunately, Facebook understands this well enough. Which is why it breaks down both the metrics (Reach and Impressions) not only by post type but also by other categories.

Understanding Facebook Reach

Creating great content for Facebook is one thing, but making sure it gives you a decent ROI is something else. Because no matter how good your content is, it’ll fail to give results if people aren’t going to see it in the first place. While focusing on improving the number of “likes” or “fans” on your page is integral, it’s not nearly as important as focusing on understanding and working with the “Reach” metric.

understanding Facebook reach

Calculating Facebook Reach

With Facebook Reach, there are three main components that you can analyze, depending on what you’re trying to achieve.

  • Organic Reach: The more the number of “unique” users who view your Facebook content for free, the higher your Organic Reach is. This could be either in their own newsfeed or directly on your Facebook page. Improving your Organic Reach means getting your content in front of a higher number of eyeballs without paid advertising.
  • Paid Reach: It’s the opposite of Organic Reach as it shows you the number of users reached through a paid content promotion on Facebook. 
  • Viral Reach: Since Facebook is a place where good content often goes viral, it’s no surprise that the social network gives you access to Viral Reach. Which is simply the number of people who have viewed your content as a result of someone in their own network sharing or mentioning it.

Tracking your Facebook Reach by type is a great way to understand and improve your content based on who saw it.

  • Increased Organic Reach can lead to more likes or more engagement.
  • Paid Reach tells you if investing money into ads is helping you reach the right people.
  • Viral Reach shows you how spreadable your content actually is, and if you should focus on producing similar shareable content.

reach vs impressionsBy keeping a track of the above components, you get a real understanding of how your target audience is evolving. And what you can do to connect to them better.

The best thing about Reach on Facebook is the fact that it is not limited to individual posts. You can choose to view the metric for your business page as well. This gives you a fair idea of the number of unique users viewing one single post when compared to how many people saw all the content posted the page.

Why Measure Facebook Reach?

Without the Reach metric provided by Facebook, it would be impossible to know what part of your audience is the most effective. People who see your Facebook content may or may not be your fans, and not all people who like your page will end up seeing your post. So in order to accurately measure your marketing efforts, Reach gives you the clarity you are looking for.

reach vs impressions

Facebook determines your Reach based on different factors, such as the EdgeRank algorithm. This complex algorithm determines who will see your content in your immediate network of followers, and which of your followers’ friends see it.

Improving your EdgeRank is directly tied to improving the reach of your content. Different type of actions such as getting more engaged fans, creating shareable content, etc. contribute to a stronger EdgeRank,

In short, your business can connect with your target audience much better on Facebook if you work on improving the Reach.

Understanding Facebook Impressions

Let’s face it, Facebook is a powerful marketing medium, which continues to get stronger. On the flip side, as more and more businesses try to tap into Facebook to promote their own brand, it’s becoming a challenge to actually get seen by your target audience in their newsfeeds.

In order to get a true figure of how frequently people are exposed to your Facebook content, the social network gives you access to an important metric: Impressions.

Calculating Facebook Impressions

Similar to Facebook Reach, even Facebook Impressions consists of three crucial components to focus on.

  1. Organic Impressions: How many times your Facebook content was shown in your fans’ newsfeed or on your official page.
  2. Paid Impressions: How many times your paid content (sponsored ad) was shown to your target users.
  3. Viral Impressions: How many times your content (organic or paid) was shown to friends of your fans.

reach vs impressions

One of the reasons why many marketers confuse Facebook Reach with Facebook Impressions is because both of these metrics work in a similar way and share the same components.

However, when analyzing these two metrics, you should keep their biggest difference in mind: the number of times your content is displayed in a users newsfeed is Impressions. And the number of unique users who actually view your content is Reach.

So if twenty users see the same Facebook post thrice, it equals to 60 impressions and a reach of 20.

Why Measure Facebook Impressions?

In order to find success with Facebook marketing, you need to know how users are consuming your content. Facebook impressions is a metric that lets you know how many people have been exposed to your content. It gives you a clearer understanding of how often your fans are seeing content posted by your page.

Getting more organic impressions depends on how well you optimize and tweak your content from time to time. Keep creating content that is not only engaging but also gives people a reason to share it with their immediate network. Also, work on bringing down any negative feedback.

organic impressions

If you’re serious about generating more impressions on Facebook and reaching out to a bigger audience quickly, you can also use Facebook ads. But even with ads, you need to invest time into keenly analyzing reach and impressions to…

  1. Avoid overwhelming Facebook users by showing your ad too many times, which can lead to ad fatigue.
  2. Keep full control over your ad’s performance by diagnosing and eliminating any potential problems.
  3. Get a clear measurement of the number of prospects in your target audience who you were able to reach.

Reach vs Impressions: It’s All About Engagement

If you’re just starting out with social media marketing or have been making slow progress, then you may have had a hard time understanding the main difference between Reach vs Impressions. However, a little effort and a bit of practice can make it a lot easier.

Because when you truly are able to know the distinction between these two metrics and analyze them the way they should be analyzed, you start making progress towards higher social media engagement.

Whether you’re using social media to build your brand, grow your audience or get more sales, ultimately you will want to experience more engagement. Your social media marketing success depends on how much engagement your content is able to drive. If you’re unable to gather enough shares, replies and likes then you may have to reposition your strategy. Which could mean creating better, more relevant content or doing a better job targeting.

Remember, in order to get people to take action and engage with your content, you need to build strong awareness. By focusing on both Reach and Impressions when needed, you pave the way to making your target audience more aware of your brand. So if you have a goal to increase the engagement levels, then try to understand how working with the Reach and Impression metrics can help you get there. Need help creating goals and building awareness for your social media marketing? If so, drop us a note to schedule a meeting, and we’ll help you every step of the way.

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About EagleView Consulting

EagleView Consulting is a full-service consulting agency that helps brands, retailers, and manufacturers launch, grow, and scale on Amazon. We create beautiful brands and help Amazon Sellers to dominate on the Marketplace.

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