Reach Vs. Impressions – a metric explained

A social media strategy evaluation metric depends on two things- reach and impressions. But how do know what to focus on in the Reach vs. Impressions dilemma? While both are extremely critical to the success of a strategy, every strategist faces a situation where they need to choose between Reach vs. Impressions

While commonly reach and impression both are considered together, there are times when they need to be measured individually.

What are Reach and Impression

To understand what they individually mean, we need to understand our scrolling pattern. We generally scroll through posts visible on our feed. We only interact with a few that capture our attention.

Impression- The number of times a post or advertisement is visible on feeds. For example, if your post has been *seen* on 500 feeds, your impression is 500.

Reach- The number of times the same post or advertisement has been seen, interacted or chosen to be seen by a user is the reach. If out of the above 500 visibility, 250 people choose to click on the post and see it, then 250 is considered as reach.

Understanding Reach vs. Impressions

  • Impressions deal with exposure. It is a measure of how many people were exposed to your content. Whereas, reach deals with getting social media users to click and view your content.
  • Impressions do not measure link clicks, interactions or any activity on your content. Mostly an impression will at max be equal to the number of followers you have. Impressions only increase the number of followers when your content has been viewed more than once. Like people going on your feed to check it.
  • Reach measures the number of clicks, plays, interactions the followers have with your content. It is not dealing with just visibility but reactions to the posted content.

Which metric is more important between reach and impressions?

Both reach Reach vs. Impressions have their advantages.

Impression as a metric is used- 

  • When you run ads on social media, you would want to track impressions. It helps you to know whether the ads are overwhelming users by becoming too many. An overwhelmed user will be less likely to click.

    Increasing impressions without conversion into reach may best be avoided.

  • When the need is to track your ad’s progress moment-to-moment basis. When an advertisement goes live and the impression is very less, it could indicate a content failure. A high impression could suggest a viral campaign.

Reach as a metric is used-

When you want to figure out why your advertisement is not working despite being visibility, you need to check the Reach.

If the content has a high reach and no or very little conversion, then the content or messaging of the advert needs to be changed.

A campaign with broad reach implies a successful campaign and which means that it’s more likely to bring new customers and get more traction.

Both these metrics are used as:

  • Effective Frequency- 

Most of the time, the impressions are equal to or higher than the reach. Every reach has an impression. Meaning, every user clicking or interacting with an ad has seen the ad.

Therefore, to get the approximate number of times your ad has been viewed, you need to divide your total reach by the average number of impressions for every user.

The figure thus obtained is called ad frequency or average impressions per user. The ad frequency needs to be greater than 1 before a viewer is converted to a user. It is because the user needs to see an ad several times before they become aware of the brand and the product.

This figure is thus called an effective frequency. effective frequency is the number of times a customer views the ad before he reacts to it. There is no benchmark figure here. It depends on brands, products and niches. Therefore, it is important to evaluate the Reach vs. Impressions.

  • Frequency and Ad Fatigue-

As discussed there is an effective frequency for an advertisement to be viewed. Overviewing of ads can overwhelm and annoy your potential customers. Therefore, it is important to prevent it.

If you want to promote an event, a cause, or just get visibility, an impression is a good metric to track.
For everything else, it is important to track the reach.

To conclude we’d say both Reach and impression is important data to consider. But there are situations when the campaign needs to have a reach vs. impression analysis too. This analysis help brands, creators to focus on what they want and how to get it.

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