Impressions and reach are two different ways of measuring the viewership of your social media content.
The Difference Between Impressions and Reach
What counts as impressions or reach differs from one social media platform to the next, but the core difference between impressions and reach is simple:
Impressions measure the total number of times a piece of content was displayed to an audience, whereas reach measures the number of unique people who the content was displayed to.
In simpler terms, impressions are the number of times your content is viewed, and reach is the number of unique people who viewed your content.
If the same person sees the same piece of content twice, it counts as 2 impressions and a reach of 1. Because one person can have multiple impressions, impressions will always be higher than reach.
Here’s a slightly more complex example:
If 100 people saw your content, but 20 of them saw it twice, that would be a reach of 100 people with 120 impressions.
What are Impressions?
The definition of impressions varies between social media platforms, but impressions can be summarized as the number of times your content is viewed or displayed in someone’s feed.
On Facebook, “An impression is counted as the number of times an instance of an ad is on screen for the first time.” Scrolling past an ad and then scrolling back up is only counted as one impression, whereas seeing the same ad twice in one day is considered two impressions.
On Instagram, impressions are calculated the same way, but measure how many times people see your stories or posts.
On Twitter, an impression is counted when a tweet appears in someone’s feed, as part of a conversation, part of a Twitter Moment, or in search results.
Importantly, an impression doesn’t necessarily mean someone actually saw, read, or engaged with your content. It purely means your post appeared in someone’s feed. They could have simply scrolled past it.
Impressions are useful to track because they give you an indication of whether the platform’s algorithm is displaying your content, and the virality of that piece of content. If a piece of content is generating interest and receiving lots of engagement, it is more likely to appear in people’s feeds—potentially multiple times.
What is Reach?
Reach is a measure of how many people have seen your content.
On Facebook, “Reach gives you a measure of how many people were exposed to your message during an ad campaign.”
On Instagram, reach measures how many people have seen your stories and posts. Twitter does not measure reach—only impressions.
Reach helps you measure the spread of your content. It gives you an idea of what percentage of your followers are seeing your content and how many people your content is being shared to.
Track Your Impressions and Reach
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