Are you paying attention to your social media metrics?
If you are, you’ve probably come across the terms impressions and reach.
While it’s easy to think social media impressions and reach are the same thing, there are some key differences between the two.
Understanding these differences is vital to increasing the number of engagements with your content.
If you want to follow an effective social media marketing strategy, you can’t afford to ignore how these metrics impact the awareness of your brand.
Here’s what we will cover in this blog post:
What are Social Media Impressions?
Social media impressions are the number of times your content is displayed to users.
However, just because your content is being shown to users does not mean they are engaging with your content.
It’s also important to keep in mind that one user can account for multiple impressions.
For example, if you have 1,000 followers on Instagram and they each see your post once, your content would have 1,000 impressions.
The Importance of Social Media Impressions
Tracking impressions is important because it measures your ability to get your content in front of your followers and your target audience.
When you see your number of impressions rise, you know your content is showing up in your followers’ feeds more often.
If you’re creating useful and shareable content, users will be more likely to engage with and share this content.
This should lead to even more impressions, which will increase your brand awareness.
What is Social Media Reach?
Social media reach, on the other hand, is the total number of unique users who see your content.
Like impressions, this number will increase regardless of whether these users actually engage with your content.
For example, let’s say you have 1,000 followers on Instagram and make two posts.
If each one of your followers sees both posts, your reach is still only 1,000.
This is because reach is about the number of unique users seeing your posts, not about the number of times your posts were seen.
The Importance of Social Media Reach
Tracking reach is important because it measures your ability to show your content to new users you haven’t connected with yet.
For a business, this is crucial because new users could equal potential customers.
If you’re not reaching new users, then you’d be showing the same content to the same users over and over again.
If you want to grow your brand, then you’re going to have to get your content in front of more people.
So, What is the Difference Between These Two Metrics?
The key difference between social media impressions and reach is:
➤ Impressions measure the total number of times your content was shown to users, while reach is the total number of users your content was shown to.
Social media impressions and reach play a vital role in your digital marketing funnel.
When you reach a new user, you are giving them their first exposure to your brand.
When you earn a new impression with someone you’ve already reached, you are helping them discover more about and remember your brand.
By marketing to users toward the top of your sales funnel, you help guide them down the funnel in the hopes that they eventually convert into a customer.
Conversion is, after all, the ultimate goal of your marketing efforts.
Facebook Impressions vs Reach
It’s important to keep in mind that there are some slight differences in the way different platforms consider impressions and reach.
Facebook, for example, makes a distinction between viewed impressions and served impressions.
➤ Viewed impressions are the number of times your content actually appeared on a user’s screen.
➤ Served impressions are the number of times a paid ad was loaded into a user’s news feed, although the ad wasn’t necessarily seen.
It’s possible that the served impression was loaded, but the user never actually scrolled down to see the ad.
It’s also important to note that impressions are only counted per page load.
So, if a user scrolls past your ad, but then scrolls back up and sees your ad again, this will only count for one impression.
Facebook also breaks reach down into three categories:
- Organic Reach
The number of people who saw your content without advertising.
- Paid Reach
The number of people who saw your paid content, like Facebook ads.
- Viral Reach
The number of people who saw your content because someone shared, liked, or commented on your content.
Impressions vs Reach on Other Platforms
Twitter, unfortunately, does not provide you with a reach metric. They do, however, track impressions.
The way Twitter tracks impressions is a bit different from other platforms.
For example, imagine you have a Tweet that gets 1,000 impressions. Then, you reply to your original Tweet and the reply gets 1,000 impressions.
Your original Tweet now has 2,000 impressions, because Twitter counts all of the impressions in the thread toward the original Tweet.
Instagram treats impressions and reach similarly to Facebook. This is unsurprising given that Facebook owns Instagram.
Snapchat also gives you impressions and reach metrics, though impressions are labeled as Story Views.
Finally, Google Analytics provides you impressions and reach metrics, though it labels them Page Views and Users.
Which Metric Should You Focus On?
Whether you should focus on social media impressions or reach will depend on the current needs of your brand.
However, it is important to remember that analyzing both your impressions and reach together will help you to create a more holistic marketing strategy.
If you’re running an ad campaign, both of these metrics allow you to determine your ad frequency.
What is Ad Frequency?
Ad frequency, or average impressions per user, is the average number of times a user has been exposed to your brand’s ad.
It is calculated by dividing your total number of impressions by your total reach.
Typically, a user will need to be exposed to your brand more than once before they become aware of or interested in your brand.
The average number of times a user needs to be exposed to your brand before becoming aware of it is called effective frequency.
Every industry and brand will have a different ideal effective frequency.
However, by monitoring both your impressions and reach, you can start to figure out what your ad frequency is and what you need to do to get to your ideal effective frequency.
When to Focus on Social Media Impressions
If your ad frequency is lower than your effective frequency, you’ll probably want to focus more on increasing your number of impressions.
Remember, a user isn’t likely to remember your brand after only one exposure to your content, so you’ll want to give them more exposure to your brand.
While reaching new potential customers is always great, if those potential customers aren’t becoming aware of and discovering your brand, that exposure isn’t worth much.
Focus on showing those potential customers more of your content, and you’ll likely be rewarded with more brand awareness and eventually more conversions.
When to Focus on Social Media Reach
If your ad frequency is higher than your effective frequency, you’ll probably want to focus more on increasing your reach.
While you do want users interacting with your content multiple times, showing them too many ads can result in ad fatigue.
Ad fatigue happens when users have had too much exposure to your content.
This can make them feel annoyed or frustrated. They can also become bored with your content and start ignoring it all together.
While lots of exposure may make users aware of your brand, if they aren’t enjoying or getting value from your content, they will not move down your sales funnel.
If you want to convert users into customers, you’ll have to find an effective frequency that keeps users interested and engaged.
Wrap Up: Understanding Social Media Impressions and Reach is Critical
While impressions and reach are one key aspect of optimizing your social media marketing efforts, there’s a lot more you should know if you want to market effectively on social media.
If you are a digital marketer who wants to know more about the vital elements of social media strategy, then check out our social media strategy guide!
There you’ll learn what a social media strategy is, why your company needs one, and how to build one for your brand.