reach vs impressions guide
Analytics & Reporting Facebook Analytics Instagram Analytics

Reach vs. Impressions: Data Differences and Importance

Anda Radulescu
Andreea Udescu
Anda Radulescu, Andreea Udescu
Table of Contents

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.

Reach vs. impressions on social media

  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 β€” reach or impressions?
  5. Reach vs. impressions on Facebook
  6. Reach vs. impressions on Instagram
  7. Reach vs. impressions on LinkedIn
  8. Reach vs impressions on Twitter
  9. Native platform insights vs. third-party analytics tools

1. What are reach and impressions?

At some point in your life as a marketer, you were surely asked to define two important metrics in social media: reach & impressions, and clarify the difference between them.

So, what is reach in social media?

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

And what are impressions on social media?

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

2. 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 1 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.

3. 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 β€” to avoid targeting the same people with your ad β€” you should focus on increasing your reach instead of impressions.

4. Which one is better for your business β€” 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.

5. 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 shows up on 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 and organic.

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).

facebook analytics reach

6. 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 top posts by reach native analytics

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 impressions native analytics

You can also track your Instagram impressions using a professional analytics tool like Socialinsider, but keep in mind that these insights are estimated.

7. Reach vs. impressions on LinkedIn

On LinkedIn, both reach and impressions are key metrics that help you understand how visible your content is and how much engagement it generates.

impressions on linkedin

Impressions are, however, considered to be more relevant than reach, which is why they displayed first under every post you share.

post analytics linkedin

8. Reach vs impressions on Twitter

Reach on Twitter represents the total number of unique Twitter users who have seen your tweet, in other words, the potential audience size that your tweet has reached. However, Twitter does not show this data.

twitter analytics impressions

Impressions, on the other hand, are the total number of times your tweet has been displayed on users' timelines, regardless of whether they interacted with it or not. Is reach more important than followers?

9. Native platform insights vs. third-party analytics tools

Having to learn each platform’s lingo and educate your clients accordingly can be rather headache-inducing use of your 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.

Reach and impressions are two KPIs that your social media analytics tools can track. However, you should keep in mind that these insights will be estimated. Particularly when it comes to Meta (Facebook & Instagram), only native apps can deliver the most accurate data.

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

Socialinsider allows you to analyze 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 20+ social media analytics tools and convince yourself.

mina ionescu head of digital geometry about socialinsider

Final thoughts

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.

Frequently Asked Questions about Reach vs Impressions

1. Which is better, reach vs impressions vs engagament?

All three metrics give you valuable information about your content's performance.

High impressions indicate that's your targeting the right audience and creating content that resonates with them. High reach tells you exactly how many people come in contact with your content. Engagement shows you how invested your audience is in the content you're sharing.

2. What is the difference between views and impressions?

While they can sometimes be used interchangeably, views and impressions are not the same. Views measure how many times a video has been watched, while impressions indicate how many times a post has appeared on users' feed (even if they haven't engagegd with the content).

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