Marketing for Dummies: Reach vs. Impressions

It’s no secret that data-driven marketing is crucial to any company’s business strategy.

And the debate over reach and impressions continues to rage among marketers and social media content creators.

What is the difference between reach and impressions and which one should you track?

We’re here to clarify everything.

Let’s talk social media metrics.

Marketing for dummies: reach vs. impressions

  1. What are reach and impressions?
  2. The difference between reach and impressions
  3. Why are reach and impressions important?
  4. Which one is better for your business — reach or impressions?
  5. Reach vs. impressions on Facebook
  6. Reach vs. impressions on Instagram
  7. Reach vs. impressions on Twitter
  8. Reach vs. impressions on LinkedIn
  9. Native platform insights vs. third-party analytics tools

What are reach and impressions?

Reach is the total number of people who actually see your content.

Impressions are the number of times your content is displayed on people’s feeds — whether clicked or not.

The difference between reach and impressions

In an ideal world, all of your followers would see and engage with every piece of content you share.

But that just doesn’t happen.

So that’s why it is important to understand the difference between reach and impressions.

Consider an Instagram ad.

You could have seen that Instagram ad five times in the last week. This indicates a total of 5 impressions.

The reach, however, is one because the ad was only delivered to one account.

By default, the number of impressions will always be higher than the number of reached accounts.

If the number of impressions is equal to the number of reach, your campaign might not perform that well. Viewers might not convert when seeing an ad just once.

Why are reach and impressions important?

Marketers typically track reach and impressions to see how well their paid campaigns are performing.

You can use reach to improve your audience targeting. The number of unique users who see your content is directly proportional to your reach.

If your reach is high but your conversions are low, your funnel isn’t as successful as it could be. In this case, you’ll need to repurpose your efforts toward groups more likely to convert to your campaign goals.

Impressions may quickly inform you whether or not your content is effective. If the ad receives no impressions, you may wish to modify the content to prevent wasting time and money.

Remember that — to avoid targeting the same people with your ad — you should focus on increasing your reach instead of impressions.

Which one is better for your business — reach or impressions?

As much as we’d like to say one is better than the other, there is no straight answer to it.

It all comes down to your campaign’s goals.

More impressions indicate that your adverts are being viewed by a broader audience. A higher reach suggests that your content is being interacted with.

As explained above, you can adjust your target audience or repurpose your material by looking at the outcomes.

Reach vs. impressions on Facebook

Facebook estimates reach and defines the metric as the number of people who see any content from or about your Page.

Facebook also lists impressions as the number of times any content from or about your Page enters your screen.

If each of your ten Facebook friends saw your post twice, you’d get a reach of ten people and twenty impressions.

Both metrics are broken down into paid, organic, and viral.

While organic reach represents the total number of individuals who saw your article in the News Feed for free, paid reach refers to the number of people who saw your paid content (Facebook ads).

Finally, the viral reach represents the number of people who saw your post or Page mentioned in a post that was shared, liked, or commented on by someone else.

Reach vs. impressions on Instagram

Instagram tracks both impressions and reach for Creator or Business accounts.

Instagram Insights breaks down your top-performing content based on its reach. The app also displays the total impressions within a set period of time.

instagram insights top-performing posts based on reach

Moreover, you can also see the percentage of users who have accessed your content but are not your followers.

On Instagram, impressions refer to the number of times a user has seen your story or post, while reach shows the number of unique users who see your content.

instagram reach and impressions instagram insights

Reach vs. impressions on Twitter

Some platforms make it easier to calculate reach than others.

twitter analytics twitter insights impressions

It appears that calculating Twitter reach is challenging, which is why the platform does not focus on tracking this metric.

It does, however, track impressions; when a Twitter user views your Tweet, it is called an impression.

Reach vs. impressions on LinkedIn

LinkedIn impressions are a good starting point for measuring content success.

On LinkedIn, the main distinction between reach and impressions is that reach is based on unique views, whereas impressions include all views.

LinkedIn reach and impressions analytics via socialinsider app

Impressions represent the total number of times your posts were seen. Unique views (reach) only count the number of users that saw your posts.

If a person looks at your post twice, LinkedIn will count two impressions and one unique view.

Having to learn each platform’s lingo and educate your clients accordingly can be rather frustrating and a complete waste of time.

This is why using a third-party app that integrates all multiple platforms can come in handy. Third-party apps are an all-in-one solution for small brands or agency social media managers.

Screenshot of Twitter data as it appears on Socialinsider’s dashboard

Reach and impressions are two KPIs that your social media analytics tools can track.

Socialinsider, for example, offers a fast and straightforward social media analysis across Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, and TikTok.

Socialinsider allows you to analyse and report your brand’s impact on social media and find the most engaging social media content for your brand from a single intuitive dashboard.

But don’t take our word for it.

You might want to compare these 50+ social media analytics tools and convince yourself.

mina ionescu head of digital geometry about socialinsider

One last thought

Whether you’re evaluating your current campaign strategy or trying to improve your overall exposure and engagement, tracking your reach and impressions may help you keep track of your success.

And now that you’ve seen how important reach and impressions are to your social media marketing strategy, it’s up to you to decide how to leverage them to achieve your campaign goals.


Recommended articles:

  1. Social Media Analytics – A Complete Guide
  2. 19 Social Media Metrics That Matter in 2022
  3. Social Media Benchmarking in 2022: An In-Depth Look




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