As a social media marketer, it is essential to know exactly how many people are seeing each of your messages. But you first understand what the Reach metric in Facebook Insights really means.

According to Facebook, “Reach is the number of people who have seen your post.”

Well, ok. That’s kind of what you assumed it meant, but that definition doesn’t really explain the full extent of it.

Post Reach

When you are on your Page, you’ll notice a reach count under each post.

Facebook Post Reach

Reach is a measure of unique visitors who have seen your post. Unlike Impressions, the previous metric, which counted the number of times you post was rendered in a browser (and thus counted someone who may have see your post, left Facebook and then logged in and saw it again), Reach measures unique visitors who have actually been exposed to your post. It has showed up on their news feed.

So why doesn’t everyone who likes my Facebook page see my post? Well, it all has to do with a little system called EdgeRank. EdgeRank ranks every piece of content on Facebook to determine where t fits on a user’s news feed. The algorithm is based on affinity (how often a fan views & interacts with your page), weight (the type of content – status update, link share, photo, video, comment, etc.) and time (how long ago the post was created). EdgeRank determines which posts show up in a user’s “highlighted stories first” newsfeed (the default setting, formerly “top news.”)

Don’t be alarmed if your post reach numbers seem fairly low. A recent study showed that on average, only 3-7.5% of your fans actually see your posts. The Social Amateur page, for example, currently has 359 fans. One of our recent posts promoting an article on blog topic ideas for the new year reached 37 people – or 10%. Although 37 people doesn’t seem like a lot, and we’re continually looking for ways to better reach more of our fans, we are ok with 10%.

Page Reach

If you want to understand who your page is reaching and how they found you, you’ll want to check out the Reach tab in your Insights. On this tab, you’ll see the following demographics:

  • Facebook ReachGender and Age
  • Countries
  • Cities
  • Languages
  • How You Reached People (Reach and Frequency)
  • Visits to Your Page
  • Total Tab Views
  • External Referrers

You’ll notice that you can see your entire reach, whether from (fans reached directly from your content), paid (fans reached from ads and sponsored stories), or viral (friends of fans who see content they share) content.

Why is it important to know your weekly page reach numbers? Well, it’s a base number, and one that can be used with other Facebook metrics to understand your audience and make strategic adjustments to your messages. Tim Wilson recently discussed a metric he called called Page Virality.

Virality is a way of quantifying the effectiveness of your recent Facebook posts. Out of everyone who was exposed to your page, “what percent of them actively engaged with it to the point that their interaction generated a story.” Now that’s an important metric to follow!

Wilson explained why Total Reach is essential to this equation:

There’s a subtle (but important this time) reason for using Total Reach in the denominator rather than Page Likes. If you have a huge fan base, but you’ve done a poor job of engaging with those fans in the past, your EdgeRank is likely going to be pretty low on new posts in the near term, which means your Reach-to-Likes ratio is going to be low (keep reading…we’ll get to that). To measure the engage-ability of a post, you should only count against the number of people who saw the post (which is why Facebook got the Virality measure right), and the same holds true for the page.

 So… What Does This All Mean?

Reach is just one metric in Facebook insights, but it is an important one. Reach is your base, and it is a base that can (and should) grow. But essentially, your Reach is the foundation from which you can determine the effectiveness of your posts and your overall strategy. Likes, shares and comment metrics mean little (from a statistical standpoint) without knowing how many people saw your post/page.

I hope this post helped explain Reach a little better and perhaps answered some of your questions. Leave a comment and let us know! In future posts, we’ll delve into the specifics of Like and Talking About This metrics.