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What exactly is the difference between reach and impressions? If you have just launched an advertising campaign, checking the reaches and impressions will help you understand how well your campaign is doing. Reach and impressions have different meanings depending on each platform you use. As social media platforms continue to grow it is important to be aware of how to read reach and impressions.

Reach: Reach is the total number of people who have viewed your ad or content. For example, if 100 people have seen your post then your post’s reach is 100.

Impressions: Impressions are the number of times your content has been displayed on a screen. For example, if your ad from the reach example has popped up on those people’s screens a total of 250 times then the number of impressions for that ad is 250. This includes multiple views from the same person. In short, 1person sees your ad 8 times. That is 1 reach and 8 impressions. Neither reach nor impressions mean someone has clicked on the ad.

Facebook Reach vs. Impressions

Facebook defines reach as the “number of people who saw your ad at least once.” Facebook organizes reach into three different categories: paid, virtual, and organic.

  • Paid Reach: paid reach is the number of people who have viewed content that has been paid for like an ad. This can be affected directly by audience targeting.
  • Viral Reach: Viral reach is when one of your friends has shared or interacted with a post.
  • Organic Reach: This is the number of people who saw your content for free in the Facebook News Feed.

If the ad is a video, Facebook says play does not even need to be pressed for it to count as an impression. However, there are ways to figure out if your content has actually been viewed. Facebook divides impressions into two categories called “served” and “viewed.”

  • Served: Served means the ad has been paid for. It can not be posted yet for an ad to be considered served.
  • Viewed: Viewed impressions only count when the ad has appeared on the screen. If the user navigates away from the ad before it has loaded the impression will not be counted as viewed.

Twitter Reach vs. Impressions

Twitter does not track reach, only impressions. Twitter defines reach as anyone who has seen any kind of post whether it's on their feed, searched, or in a conversation. Therefore, if you have 100 followers on Twitter and all 100 of them see your tweet, you have 100 impressions. If you reply to your own tweet, your followers will see that tweet and the reply which is a result of 200 impressions for a total of 300 because of the original 100 impressions.

Instagram Reach vs. Impressions

Instagram does reach and impressions almost exactly the same as Facebook. Reach is the total number of times “unique accounts” have viewed your story and impressions are the total number of times viewers have viewed your story.

Why Focus on Reach and Impressions?

Focusing on reach and impressions will help you better understand your audience. You might want to track impressions to make sure you are not overwhelming your audience with content and ads. To avoid this you can focus more on reach than impressions. Impressions can track the early progress of an ad. If it is not getting any impressions when it is first posted something might be wrong with it. It takes an average of eight impressions to make a sale and the higher the stakes of purchasing the more impressions are needed. For example, it might take one impression for someone to check out a new restaurant; but, it might take over 100 impressions for someone to buy a home. Partnering with an ad agency will help you strategize how many impressions you need to make the sale on your product or service.

Reach is another way to figure out if something is wrong with your ad or content. If people are not having conversations about the ad, but they have reached a lot of people you might want to reframe the ad. If the ad is reaching a broad audience then it has been successful and should be shared and interacted with.

Why Track Reach and Impressions?

It is important to track reach and impressions because they tell you different things about your ads. You use metrics to measure the ad to determine its effectiveness. Determining your “effective frequency” will tell you how many times your ad has been viewed before the viewer gets annoyed. The number of impressions per user would be too little or too many depending on your social media goals. If you want to slowly build brand awareness for a small niche then in-your-face campaigns with lots of impressions might not be the way to do it. Time-sensitive campaigns would benefit from lots of impressions.

How We Can Help!

At Inner Spark Creative , we want to make sure your business is taking off! A way to do that is through social media marketing. We will evaluate your reach and impressions for different social media posts and platforms to see if your marketing strategy is successful. We can also offer alternatives to improve social media marketing. Contact us today to get started!

About the Author...
Inner Spark Creative Interns
Inner Spark Creative Interns
Inner Spark Creative is proud to foster the next generation of digital media experts through our comprehensive internship program. Our interns, primarily sourced from Auburn University, bring fresh perspectives and innovative ideas to our projects. As part of their hands-on learning experience, they contribute valuable content to our platform, demonstrating the skills and knowledge they've acquired. Inner Spark Creative is committed to contributing to the education and professional development of our interns, preparing them for successful careers in digital media and beyond.

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