Social media analytics, reach vs impressions: what’s the difference?

This is one of those questions that we get asked a lot and we can understand why. These terms are often used interchangeably causing confusion about the difference between them and ultimately making accurate analysis of your social media activity much harder!

Those Social Media Managers with targets for brand awareness and audience growth in particular need to know which of these two metrics will provide the right analysis of their progress.

With that in mind, today’s blog is going to be a quick introduction to social media reach and impressions with some tips and tricks for how to improve your results!

So, let’s start with some quick definitions:

What is Social Media Reach?

Social media reach is the total number of social media users who have seen your content, and in this respect are unique views.

What are Social Media Impressions?

Social media impressions is the number of times your content has been viewed on social media, including repeat views by the same individual.

The difference between reach and impressions

You might be thinking that each piece of content you create will reach each of your followers on social media. However, organic content can often struggle to reach all your followers due to the way that the networks prioritise content. You can find out more on how you can work with the social networks’ algorithms here: LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook. However, reach is often a more accurate indication of the number of people who have been shown your content.

Whereas impressions register when your content is delivered into someone’s feed who may be a follower or a friend of one of your followers if the content has been shared. That person does not have to engage with your content in any way for it to count as an impression and simply scrolling past it multiple times will count as additional impressions.

Of course, because of this you might find that your impressions are often significantly higher than your reach which is important to bear in mind!

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Social media management platforms like SoCrowd can help you to quickly and easily analyse and report changes in your social media results, providing you with the information required to make management decisions.

Platform, Analytics, Social media performance

To find out more about how SoCrowd could help you or request a free demo, click here.

What impact does this have on your social marketing strategy?

Once you have access to these metrics, it’s time to put that information to good use by using it to inform your social media strategy.

Let’s say you’re not getting the amount of reach that you expected or are struggling to hit your targets, there might be two factors at play:

1. Your content could be fantastic and built entirely around your target audience, but if your current following on your social media accounts are not your customers and prospective customers then your returns won’t improve. It’s so important to regularly review and edit your social media followings to ensure that you are continuing to attract followers for the right reasons — that they’re interested in your organisation and your products/services!

2. As we know, Facebook and Twitter reach and impressions algorithms will only show your content to a select portion of your followers based on several factors. However, the most crucial factor that both platforms consider is RELEVANCE: how relevant your content is to your audience. Again because of this, your social media following needs to be right, but also your content must revolve around the needs and interests of this audience so focus content planning effort on specific and targeted themes.

On the other hand, if your impressions are lower than you hoped its time to consider the ‘shareability’ of your content. Impressions really provide an indication of how likely individuals are to engage with your content and thus share it with friends. So, if your impressions aren’t growing think about what you can do to improve engagement with your content such as:

  • Asking your audience questions — polls and surveys are fun ways for your audience to have their say and spread the message as they do!
  • Running competitions that encourage participants to share or like your content.
  • Creating emotive content that simulates thoughts and feelings is also a great way to build conversation around more challenging topics.

For more ideas, check out our related blogs:

So that’s our introduction to reach and impressions which of course is only one set of metrics by which to analyse your social media activity. Let us know @SoCrowd what questions you have around engagement metrics, customer service metrics, reporting on paid social and more, and we’ll be happy to answer them in our next post.