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Impressions VS Reach: What They Mean and WHY They Matter

If you’ve been on a mission to grow your brand online, and more specifically, on social media, you’ll know by now that there are a multitude of metrics that each platform uses to measure the success of your efforts. 


And if the term “impressions VS reach” sounds familiar, you’ve probably been wondering what they mean, why they matter, and what the difference is between the two. After all, they do sound very similar. 

Today, we’re going to talk about them, but more importantly, we’re going to teach you how to make the most of both of these incredible metrics and how you can improve your efforts to get even more of them. 

Are you ready to get started? Let’s hit it. 


Defining Impressions VS Reach

In order to really find out what this means, we have to dig into each of these metrics separately. So here goes!

logo-2 What are Impressions?

In short, this means that a particular piece of content, (either paid or organic) was delivered to a user’s feed. This doesn’t necessarily mean they SAW it or specifically interacted with it, it just means that it was put in the feed, and unique. 


logo-2 What is Reach?

Digital reach is the total number of people who actively saw your content. It means that a paid or organic piece of content was not only delivered to a user but truly SEEN by a unique visitor as each view by the same party still counts as an impression, whereas ONE view by a unique visitor only counts as one. 



Impressions VS Reach: A Deeper Look at the Differences Between the Two

Because the difference between the two metrics is vague overall, it can be difficult to comprehend what might actually be particularly powerful about either of them or find out why there’s such a demand for impressions VS reach or vice versa.

Here’s another example: 

Let’s say you have 500 followers on Instagram and you publish a short-form video. If every follower were to see it, you would have 500 digital impressions and would have reached 500 people

The next day, you might publish a graphic and once again all of your followers see it in their feed. Your reach would STILL be 500 because you’ve reached every single one of your followers, however, your impressions are now 1,000 because ALL of your followers saw both posts. 

Reach equals the number of people to who your content was displayed: aka, this doesn’t necessarily mean they actively SAW it. Just that it was delivered to their feed and it reached them. 

content deck Sociallyin 2021

Impressions: the number of people who SAW your content.

This is why you may have reports that show a significantly higher number of impressions than people in your followers. Confusing? Yes. Vitally important to the overall success of your campaign? You better believe. And that’s why it’s imperative to sort out why each one is important and what they mean. 

Not All Impressions are Created Equal

There are also different TYPES of impressions, with some having more of a positive impact than others. Let’s take a look at all of the types and discuss how each one can impact the outcome of your campaign. 

#1 Paid Impressions

Paid impressions can be incredibly powerful for getting your name out there. The number that this metric presents to you is the number of users who saw your paid content. Like a boosted Instagram or Facebook post, or a traditional Instagram ad or Facebook ad. The only downside? You’ve got to pay for them. 

#2 Organic Impressions

The number in your campaign results represents the number of unique users, (most often followers) who saw your content. Upside? It’s free of charge!

#3 “Viral” Impressions

Contrary to how it sounds, this does not mean that your content is viral or will go viral.

This number is the number of individual, unique views from people who saw your content via shares and/or Stories published by others and often includes other metrics like likes, shares, and comments.

...and Neither is Reach

Just like with impressions, not all reach is created perfectly equal. Each has their positive and negative aspects, with some being more powerful than others. Let’s take a look:

#1 Paid Reach

Paid reach equals the amount of times your content was displayed in the feed through paid advertising efforts like ads and boosts.

#2 Organic Reach

This is the total number of times your content was displayed in your audiences’ feed, but only through organic efforts. A.k.a you didn’t pay for this reach. 

And it can also be helpful to note that it’s not uncommon for your reach to be less than your follower count. So don’t get discouraged!

#3 “Viral” Reach

This is the total number of times people that your content was shared or displayed by followers and was seen, commented on, liked, or shared by their audience.

And just to reiterate: it does NOT mean that your content will or has gone viral. ;)

Going Beyond Impressions VS Reach and How it Plays Into Your Marketing Strategy Long-Term

We’ve gone into the deepest depths of definitions, but it’s time to take a wider glance at how impressions VS reach impact your marketing strategy in the long term. And why they matter. Ready? Let’s hit it. 

Reach Increase=Increased Awareness

As your reach increases over time, either because your followers are sharing your content, or because your audience is growing, you will experience a boost in awareness, too. 

Of course, we ALL want our reach to go as far and wide as possible. However, just because you’re able to cast a wide reach and bring awareness to your brand that way, you don’t get to just walk away with “all the success” and call it quits. 

You can reach a million people- but the only relevant people in one million are the ones who will actively purchase and engage with you. The individuals who will take an interest in your brand.

This means that the only true way to get value out of your efforts is to target your graphics, videos, copy, and messaging for the people who will be actively taking a part in your brand and in your business in the long term. 

Looking to increase your engagement even more?

Pay special attention to retweets, shares, saves, comments, and likes. These accounts and interactions can lead you straight to your next customer and help you increase your reach even more!

Facebook ads and social growth CTA

Why You Should Monitor Your Engagement Metrics (HINT: It Spells Success)

The more impressions you have, the more likely your content is popping up in users’ feeds. This is a great sign! But what can you do with this information? 

More impressions mean you’re doing something right, but the goal should always be to never stop improving. A/B testing and adjusting can help you unlock even more success. No brand should ever settle for less. You deserve to be able to unlock your full potential. 

On the other hand, if you’re not seeing a number of impressions you can be proud of, it’s time to make some adjustments. 

  • Is your content optimized for the social network you’re utilizing? 

This is a no-brainer, but something that often goes under the radar if you’re on multiple social media accounts. 

ALWAYS optimize your social media content for particular platforms. Your word count should be on point and for the love of tacos, don’t use “link in bio!” as a call to action when it’s not necessary. (aka, nowhere except TikTok and Instagram)

  • Put your focus on the community

Shifting your focus from results to the community can be a tough one because it often involves letting go of the “overnight” version of success all of us so often feel called to engage in. 

You can do this by publishing more shareable content, interacting with your audience and retweeting them, sharing their content (maybe on a Story), commenting on and liking their posts, and being a part of groups they’re active within.

  • Find out if your hard work is paying off

Now it’s time to do some SOCIAL LISTENING! 

Dig in, y’all. Find out just how successful your hard work has been and make notes about how you can continually improve to drive metrics. Who knows but that you might just get to a point where you can stop asking about impressions vs reach and which is more powerful. ;) (We’re just throwing shade. ;))

Frequently Asked Questions

If you don't have the difference down yet, don't sweat it. You'll get the hang of it! Re-read the blog post if you need to- or even get in touch with us HERE.

We are going to help you a little bit more by providing the answers to other frequently asked questions below, too. So keep reading when you think you've read the above enough times to be an expert. 😉

How to Calculate Impressions

Depending on what platform you're utilizing, it will do most of the work for you. Often "expanding the details" on a Tweet, looking in your Facebook business dashboard and Instagram's business metrics will tell you.

However, you can also use tools like Sprout Social and they'll track it for you!

Looking to calculate it on your own? Here's the formula:

Impressions = Cost / (Clicks Per Impression/1000)

P.S we love this tool for calculating the cost of impressions. Check it out!

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How to Measure Your Reach

Similarly to impressions, you can get this information straight from the platform you're using, or from another tool. 

Reach VS Frequency

Reach is the total number of potential customers who see your advertising efforts. Meanwhile, frequency is the number of times that those viewers will be exposed to your efforts.

One is not more powerful than the other because BOTH are necessary components.

Ready to Rocket Boost Impressions and Your Overall Reach? Sociallyin is Here to Help

Whether you’re looking to expand your reach or grow your impressions, Sociallyin is equipped and ready with a team of creative geniuses to make it happen.

We’ll evaluate your goals over a discovery call and learn as much about your business as possible before making plans. 

The strategy comes next. We spend the majority of our time putting together an in-depth description of what we’re going to do, how we’re going to do it, and how we’ll measure the success of our efforts. 

And then you’ll watch the results pour in! 

Are you ready? Click down below and let’s get in touch!

Keith Kakadia

I am a native of New Orleans, LA with a passion for social media marketing, entrepreneurship, and making new connections. I enjoy the opportunity to work with amazing individuals and brands everyday.

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