Reach vs Impressions: What Is The Difference?

by | Digital Marketing, Social Media Marketing

Social media metrics are one of the best tools for analyzing the performance of any brand. However, have you ever wondered about the difference between reach vs impressions? 

Everyone knows that reach and impressions are among the most important statistics in social media analysis. However, “reach” and “impressions” also turned into marketing jargon many are unfamiliar with or mix up! 

Social media marketing has become essential in a modern age that partially revolves around the internet world. Thus, many brands and businesses have jumped the bandwagon to establish their social media pages and accounts.  

But, just because everyone joined the social media bandwagon doesn’t mean they know how to navigate it to the fullest. 

At a glance, reach and impressions seem almost interchangeable, but we assure you, it’s not. 

In fact, these two metrics should be analyzed together for the fullest potential!  

Without further ado, we will explain the definition of these two terms and how they’re supposed to help you in digital marketing. 

Reach vs Impressions

So, what exactly is the difference between reach vs impressions? 

Although these two terms seem incredibly similar, they have distinct differences in what they measure.  Therefore, it is essential to understand what the terms mean.  

Reach:  Reach refers to the number of people that have seen your content.  Let’s say you have 50 followers. If you posted a new product and all 50 followers saw the post, your reach will be 50.  However, reach shouldn’t be mistaken for engagement. 

While reach refers to the total number of users that have seen your content, engagement refers to engagement with the post through likes, shares, comments and many more.  

Impressions:  Impressions refer to the number of times your content is displayed somewhere.  However, impressions don’t differentiate between the users’ engagement and displays. 

Still confused?  

If a user viewed a post from the original source and reappears from a friend’s share, this counts as two impressions.  If your content has been displayed 250 times, then you’ve earned 250 impressions regardless if users engage with the content or not.  

READ MORE: Website Design Checklist: 10 Checklist For Your Company Web Design

Now that we’ve established the differences 

It is important to stress that the reach and impression metrics should be analyzed hand-in-hand for a complete picture of how well your content appeals to audiences. 

However, every platform defines reach and impressions a little differently from each other.  Therefore, it is important to understand the subtleties between each platform. 

1. Facebook

Facebook defines reach as the number of people who have seen your ad at least once. However, Facebook has expanded “reach” into multiple categories for a more detailed analysis of where source reach is coming from. 

Facebook categorizes reach into organic, paid, and viral.  

  • Organic Reach: On Facebook, business owners are given the option to pay for promotional ads or boosted posts.  Organic reach refers to people who saw your page’s content organically for free. 
  • Paid Reach:  Paid reach is the antithesis of organic reach. It totals the number of people who saw your content through paid ads or boosted posts.  
  • Viral Reach:  Viral reach is neither organic nor paid because it relies on users seeing page content from another friend. The said content might have appeared due to friends interacting through likes, comments or shares.  

On the other hand, Facebook impressions are also categorized into the same categories.

  • Organic Impressions: How many times has your content been displayed on someone’s newsfeed for free? 
  • Paid Impressions: How many times was your content displayed on someone’s newsfeed, such as an ad or boosted post?
  • Viral Impressions: How many times was your content displayed through someone else liking, commenting or sharing? 

However, impressions are taken a step further for ads.  Impressions for ads have their own categories, served and viewed.  

  • Served Impressions: These impressions are said to remain “below the fold”, meaning nobody “actually” sees them.  It can be an ad placed in an ad box or the user never finished the ad.  
  • Viewed Impressions: Viewed impressions are only counted when the user views the ad without navigating or scrolling away before it’s fully loaded.  

READ MORE: Content Marketing Guide For Beginners In Malaysia

2. Twitter

Although reach and impressions are important for social media metrics, Twitter differs from other platforms because they only have impression metrics. That’s right, Twitter does not measure the reach of your tweets. 

In Twitter words, impressions are defined as the number of times your tweet appears on someone’s screen. Twitter only counts the number of times your tweet appears in someone’s Twitter feed or search results.  

For example, if you have 100 followers and all of them see your tweet. That means you’ve gained 100 impressions on the tweet.  But let’s say you reply to the tweet. 

The original tweet and reply will gain another 200 impressions, totalling 300 impressions.  

However, Twitter impressions are slightly complex. Depending on how you use Twitter drastically impacts impressions. 

Replies to a thread or user tend to earn fewer impressions than the primary tweet. Therefore, you’ll earn fewer impressions if you make more replies than main tweets. 

READ MORE: 5 Tips of Writing Call To Action That Works For Companies in Malaysia

3. Instagram

Instagram defines reach and impressions similar to Facebook. However, the statistics aren’t as divided as Facebook categories.  

Reach on Instagram refers to the number of users that have seen your content. Impressions total the number of times users see your content.  

There are multiple ways to analyze Instagram reach and impression metrics. If your Instagram impressions are higher than the reach, it highly implies that users may be viewing your content multiple times.  

Therefore, focusing on posts with higher impressions-to-reach ratios is good.  

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