The Difference Between Reach and Impressions in Your Social Media Campaign

Reach vs Impressions

If you’re reading this, there’s a good chance you’re already starting to create a solid social media marketing strategy for your organization. That’s probably because you also already know how important social media is for helping you grow your bottom line — but it doesn’t just end with posting and crossing your fingers in hopes that the content will help convert an audience into loyal customers.

Just like with any business process, you must track your efforts to know what you’re doing right and what you could be doing better. In the world of marketing metrics, and especially when it comes to social media, reach and impression are two very different numbers to watch. There’s a common misconception that the two are synonymous, but they indicate two different ways your social media followers interact with your content.

Breaking it down: Reach vs. Impressions

When looking at reach, this is the number that indicates the total number of unique people that see your content. Impressions are the number of times your content has been seen in total, regardless of if anyone clicked on, engaged with, or shared your post. In a perfect world, all of your social media followers would see every post, but because of algorithms and social media use behavior, that’s rarely ever the case.Social media users don’t even have to click on a piece of content for it to register as an impression, and one single user can see a post multiple times — either in their feed from the publisher or as a share. 

To put this into numbers: If you have 100 followers and you post one post to your feed and every single one of your followers sees that post then your reach would be 100 along with 100 impressions. If the next day you posted twice and everyone saw it, then your reach is still 100, but your impressions would be 200. This can explain why your impressions may be higher than your reach when looking at social media stats.

How do I track these important engagement metrics?

Because these engagement terms mean something a little different for every main social media platform, your approach needs to be tweaked on each. Let’s focus on the Big Three platforms included in your Emphatic strategy: Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter.


Reach and impression on Facebook can be delegated to three categories that you may already be familiar with; paid, organic, and viral. Ads that you pay for, of course, are paid content and free content is organic. Viral impressions happen when friends see posts that their friends either engaged with or shared.

Look at the bottom of your Facebook posts or at your Insights data to find numbers that indicate reach and impressions for both your business page and your individual posts. If you invest in Facebook Ads, also keep served and viewed impressions in mind: Served is the number of times an ad is delivered and viewed is how many times it’s been seen, and often there can be a large gap between the two. 


This platform is a bit more streamlined and less data-rich when it comes to these metrics. Twitter doesn’t track reach but it does track impressions, and this platform defines that by anyone who sees your tweet. They don’t necessarily have to click a link, share, or engage with your tweet for it to be registered as an impression. You can view this metric on each individual tweet and see a more comprehensive number under the Analytics tab from your profile avatar.


LinkedIn also offers users access to impression and unique impression metrics. Impressions are defined as how many times people saw your post in total, and unique impressions are the numbers that saw the post at least once (not including revisits). Now that LinkedIn offers paid ads, you can segment these numbers even more by separating them into paid and organic impressions. Head to your business page dashboard and explore the Analytics tab to see these numbers.

How do I improve social media reach and impressions?

Ultimately, higher “reach” numbers means more of a chance for engagement, better traffic to your business website, and ultimately more sales. Impressions are important because it can indicate how well optimized your social media marketing strategy is working; the more impressions you get, the better your content is circulating throughout the platform.

  • Build a relationship: Brand loyalty goes a long way to building revenue, and it can all start on social media. Use what you know about the breakdown of the audience behind both impressions and reach to start a relationship when they engage with posts and form a bond that other brands don’t.
  • Post with a purpose: While social media post consistency is key, what you publish needs to have some meaning and value for your audience to want to engage. Whether content is educational, informative, or just fun, make it matter.
  • Shift the focus: Too much sales-y content or an overly promotional strategy on social media could push users away. It’s okay to toot your own horn from time to time, but customers are increasingly looking for authenticity to engage with on your profile or page.
  • Optimize your audience: Whether you’re updating your target demo on Facebook for more people to see your content or you decide to tweak your social media strategy for better content, remember to write for your audience and show them the content they’re looking to engage with and share.

Now that you know where to find these important engagement metrics, go take a look. Do you like the numbers your seeing? Is it time to change up your content to boost those metrics? If you already have an Emphatic strategy in place, get in touch — let’s talk about your dashboard to see how we can help you get those numbers up. Even if you’re not leveraging Emphatic to help boost engagement, we still want to talk about how to get started feeding your customers the content they want to see.