Why Reach and Impression Metrics are Just as Important as Likes

You’ve probably heard of ‘reach’ and ‘impressions’ before. These are common terms across all social platforms, from Facebook to Instagram, and play an important role in the way engagement is measured.

But, even though they often appear as big numbers (which always looks great), few people actually know what they mean and, more importantly, how to use them.

Unlike engagement stats, reach and impressions aren’t often seen by the audience, so they can be disregarded. However, they can be used to create a significant impact on brand awareness campaigns – and can help to drive huge growth.

Young girl using smart phone,Social media concept

What Are Reach and Impressions?

First of all, it’s important to explain exactly what these terms mean.

By definition, reach is the total number of people who have seen your content. It’s important to note that these are unique users, meaning this metric doesn’t account for users who return to your content.

Impressions, on the other hand, refer to the number of times your content has been displayed on-screen.

Both can be broken down into three further subcategories:

  1. Organic Reach/ Impressions
  2. Paid Reach/ Impressions
  3. Viral reach/ Impressions

Organic reach/ impressions mean how many people have seen your content for free in the Facebook news feed, for example. They’re your existing audience and your page followers.

When we talk about paid reach/ impressions, we are referring to the number of people who have seen your posts through paid means, which could be boosted ads or brand awareness campaigns.

As for viral reach/ impressions, these terms relate to how many people have seen your content because someone in their friends’ list interacted with it.

Choosing the Metrics to Suit your Goals

It’s important that you understand what you’re trying to achieve with your social media, so that you can more easily figure out which metrics are suitable for your goals.

Still, neither reach or impressions mean that a user has engaged or interacted with your content, so how are they relevant to you and your campaign?

To put it another way: if you’re using social media to drive more eyes to your content, then why judge success by engagement, when awareness is really the key here?

Reach and impressions should be used as indicators because they help you to see which posts, be it in the form of videos or images – or anything in-between – are being seen by people. If your goal is to draw attention to your content, then these metrics are the way to measure this.

For example, say that a post has a high number of impressions; this could be an indicator of a really strong piece of content that you should build on in future posts.

Social media concept

The Relationship Between Awareness and Engagement

One can’t be successful without the other, but this isn’t a ‘chicken and egg’ situation. Awareness has to come first and that’s why reach and impressions are so much more important than likes to begin with.

As more users start to see your content and you start to better identify your social media audience, interested parties will start to engage. This, in turn, will drive viral reach/ impressions your way, which will supplement great brand awareness.


Using the right metrics to guide you towards your goals is vital to social media success. By tracking, investigating and measuring these metrics, you’ll be on your way to better understand the effectiveness of your social media channels.

There’s just one thing you need to consider before that: what is more important to your business at this stage, awareness or engagement?

If you’re unsure how to even begin, SQ Digital can help. As a social media agency who also specialises in other elements of Digital Marketing, such as SEO, PPC and Content Marketing, SQ Digital will be able to work with you to create smart, engaging and helpful posts to boost your campaigns.

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