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The Difference between Reach vs Impressions?

Enquiring minds frequently ask what the difference between reach and impressions is on Facebook and Instagram.

When marketing strategically, it is crucial to know your position in real-time. How do you know how successful your content is if you don’t know what you should be measuring?

Many of us may understand the term Social Media Engagement but fail to understand what it is, why it is necessary or how to understand the numbers.

At Think Tank Digital Marketing, we tell our customers that engagement is key, which is why most platforms offer us a way to measure it.

Engagement refers to the interaction your audiences have with the content you’ve published. After all, you want their attention and quality content is how you stand out from your competitors.

Engagement covers a broad range of actions across all social platfroms and may include:

  • Likes or Emoji’s
  • Comments, Replies
  • Direct Messaging
  • Shares
  • Mentions
  • Clicks

If your content resonates with your audience, it stands to reason that you’d have a reasonable number of the above.  However, there are higher numbers elsewhere that are also measured. Facebook and Instagram also measure reach and impressions.  Less visible than Likes, Comments, and Shares; the measure of reach and impression provides a more in-depth understanding of what is working and what is not.

Ok, so. What is the difference between reach and impressions?

People often confuse engagement with reach and impressions, and though they’re all ways of measuring the success of your content, they’re ostensibly different. In truth, they’re part of the same overarching machine, however;

Reach is the number of people who may have seen your content. While the same set of eyes may fall upon your content multiple times, they are counted only as a single reach. To put it simply, reach equals people. If 100 people have seen your content, then your reach is 100. 

Impressions are the total number of times your content appears on screen. If your post was displayed 200 times – Your impressions are the number of times it has shown up in newsfeeds (or paid ads) as people view it. Marketing science states that a brand requires a minimum of 20 impressions before the conscious mind takes note.

Not unlike how a person who buys a car suddenly realises how many of that very same car they come across every day.

With this in mind, it’s reasonable to assume that Reach numbers will always be lower than your impressions. 

Now to confuse you;

While low results in Impressions and Reach correlate with an unsuccessful campaign or poor content; High Impressions and Reach do not necessarily mean success. 

Contrariwise, a high result in both will absolutely be achieved when your strategy is sound.

To confuse you further;

High numbers of Likes, Shares, Comments, and so don’t necessarily mean that your campaign is successful. Likewise, low numbers of the same don’t necessarily mean that your content isn’t on point.

If your Reach and Impressions are lacking, you may have a loyal and active audience, but they may have already purchased from you and may not need to do so again.

So what’s the right balance?

Well, it would be reasonable to assume that when Engagement, Reach, and Impressions are high, you’ve mixed yourself up the recipe for success.


In truth, the right balance is different for every business, every piece of content, and every audience. But that’s why we choose social media as our marketing tool of choice. With its array of tools for measuring the success of your content strategy in real-time, your options are always open to you, and every dollar is a step closer to success.

Now with this power of understanding, go and reach your people and impress them.

Blog By Jason Armstrong