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Reach vs Impressions: What’s The Difference?
1 min to read ✭ In this post, you will learn the difference between reach and impressions, and what each measure means for your nonprofit's content strategy.
Measuring impressions and reach on your nonprofit’s social media will help you gauge how your content is resonating with your audience. However, while the two touches on similar concepts, impressions, and reach are not measures of the same thing. This article will help break down reach vs impressions and show you the difference between the two!
What are impressions?
Impressions on Facebook tell you how many times your content was displayed on a screen. For example, if your ad was displayed on one user’s phone screen, then again when the same user browsed Facebook on their desktop, both of those instances would be counted as an impression.
Impressions are not a measure of how many people click on your ad, nor does it measure what they do with it after it is displayed. Instead, impressions are used as a general insight of how many times Facebook, or whichever other social platforms you’re running ads on, shows your content on any device.
What is reach?
Reach refers to the total number of individual, or unique, users who saw your ad or content. There are three types of reach measured on Facebook; organic reach, paid reach, and viral reach.
What is organic reach?
Organic reach is a measure of how many people saw your content for free, or organically, in their Facebook newsfeed. For example, if your free post was viewed by a user when scrolling through their timeline, that would be counted as organic reach, since it was not a paid posting.
What is paid reach?
Paid reach is a measure of the number of people who saw a piece of content that you promoted, or paid for, like an ad. An example would be if you paid to promote a posting, each unique user who saw your post as a result of the paid boost would be counted as paid reach.
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What is viral reach?
Viral reach measures how many people saw your content after one of their friends interacted with it. For example, if Abby likes one of your posts, each of Abby’s friends who saw you post on their feed as a result of that interaction would be counted as viral reach.
Organic vs. paid vs. viral reach
To better understand the differences between these three types of reach, consider the following scenario. Someone who “likes” your nonprofit’s Facebook page is likely to see what you post organically because this person chose to follow you. Thus, your posts will naturally appear on their newsfeed. On the other hand, people who don’t follow your page, but who follow a similar Facebook page make a good target audience for your ads. So, when you run an ad to target this said audience, paid reach will measure the number of people who see your promoted, or paid, content. Finally, say someone comments on one of your nonprofit’s posts on Facebook. This person’s friends might now see your post simply because their friend commented, making this an example of viral reach.
Reach vs Impressions: What’s More Important to Measure?
Ultimately, focusing more on reach vs impressions should be dependent on what your organization’s goals are. You might want to track impressions if you are worried about overwhelming users with your content, as, again, this measures how many times your ad is displayed on a screen. Measuring impressions can also help you to see if there is anything wrong with the framing or content of your ad, because if there are no impressions, that means that it’s not being displayed at all. So, you can look at this to also see if you need to revise anything within your ad. However, focusing on reach can also help you to further understand if your content is resonating with your audience. If your ad has reached a lot of people but hasn’t led to any conversions, take this as a note to revise something within your content or within how you are framing the ad itself. With all that being said, both reach and impressions go well hand-in-hand as they are metrics of two very distinct activities. Monitoring both metrics will help you understand how your ads are performing and how quality your content is.