An Explanation of Social Media Reach

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An Explanation of Social Media Reach

You hear people use the word “Reach” more and more when they are talking about Social Media Marketing, but what does “reach” really mean?  As a business owner reach is the first step to making a sale.  You have to reach people to be able to market to them.  If you are not “reaching” people, you cannot show off your product or services. 


Facebook defines Post Reach as:


Post reach is the number of people who have seen your post. Your post counts as reaching someone when it's shown in News Feed. Figures are for the first 365 days after a post was created and include people viewing your post on desktop and mobile.


Reach, for the most part, means the same with every social media platform.  Keep in mind reach does not mean activity.  Reach only means you have gotten in front of someone; you’ve made your content available for consumption.  It does not mean anyone has actually consumed your content.


Newspaper.pngReach is similar to a newspaper being delivered.  The newspaper has “reached” its destination, your doorstep, but the recipient, you, still have not looked at it.  The more doorsteps the newspaper is delivered to, the better chance you have that people will read it.  So we want to “reach” as many people as we can.


This is what happens when your content reaches people.  Some may look at it right away, some may put it away for later and others may throw it away and never look at it again.  When it comes to email marketing, reach = the number of emails delivered.  In other words the number of emails sent to addresses that did not bounce. The email has to reach the recipient to be counted as reach.  Reach is just the first step.  Now that we’ve reached people, we want them to take some kind of an action, but we have to tell them what we want them to do.  This is called a “Call to Action,” but that discussion is for another day. 


Facebook is the easiest example to use to explain reach.  Let’s take a look at a Facebook Company page; in Facebook language it’s called a “Page” or “Pages.” For our discussion we’ll call it a company page.  


To find out the reach of a particular post we have to go to our company page Insights (aka analytics).  Insights are located toward the top of your company page under the search block.




When you select Insights you will be taken to an overview screen.  At the bottom of the overview screen you will see the last 5 posts you’ve made and analytic information about those posts. 




One of the pieces of information you will see is reach, but the overview only shows reach for the last 5 posts.  There is a way to see the reach of all your posts, not just the last 5.  Keep in mind the first Insights screen you come to is an overview screen.  To drill down to more granularity you will have to make another selection.  You’d think you need to go to the “Reach” page,




but “Reach” will not tell you how far a single post reached, it only shows the number of people all your posts were served to.   




…but you need to know exactly how many people you reached with each post.  The reason you want to know your reach is to determine what is reaching people and what isn’t.  It’s called the fruits of your labor.  You want to find out what types of content reach the most readers so you can continue feeding the most popular content to them. 


You also want to determine what content doesn’t work so you can stop wasting time developing content that doesn’t reach people.  The first step is reach, then you have to decide what your call to action is.


For now let’s take a look at how to read Post Reach analytics.  To do this go back to the column on the far right side of your screen and select “Posts”.


This selection gives you access to what I believe is the “honey-hole” of Facebook analytics.  From this screen you will find analytics about when your fans are online, how each post is performing, top posts from pages you routinely watch and best of all, the reach of each post you’ve ever posted. 


The first analytics you will see when you select posts from the left menu is what we affectionately call “the whale.” The whale is extremely important.  It tells you the day and time most of your fans are online so you can make an educated decision about what days and times to post, but the whale is not what we’re here for. 



We’re here to look at post reach, so scroll down below the whale and you will see an area heading of “All Posts Published.”  This is right where you want to be to research your post reach (the number of people who have seen your post).  Not only will you get information on reach, but you also see the title of your post and engagement.  Let’s take a look at a typical “All Posts Published” area. 




When you first arrive in this area you will find posts arranged chronologically with the last post first.  This arrangement allows you to see how the most recent posts are performing.  Keep in mind as the posts age, your reach will grow.  Your reach will grow significantly for about the first 3-4 days, then start dropping off.


In our example the last post reached 136 people, the next post reached 261, then 239, then…WHOA!! The next post reached an amazing 496 people, then 372, then the last post in our example reached over 1,000 people.  These numbers show a fairly consistent performance with small to medium sized business who are active with social media.  A larger business should see many times more people reached than this. 


I know we are talking about reach, but I also want you to look at engagement for a minute.  You can quickly scan down the page and see which posts engaged the most people.  The interesting thing is the post reaching 498 people had more engagement than the post that reached 1,000 people.  Remember what I said.  You first have to reach people, then engaged them with a call to action.  Let’s keep moving.


Now that you have reviewed the most recent posts you need to drill down to a more granular level.  To be efficient with post creation you need to know which posts perform the best and which perform the worst.  This is done by reordering the reach column.  To reorder the reach column, roll your cursor over the word reach.  When you see the word “Reach” turn blue, click on it and it will reorder the entire column from best reach to worst reach.




This gives you the ability to find out exactly which posts had the greatest reach.  As you follow your analytics over time you’ll begin to realize what we’ve been talking about with respect to reach and engagement.  Reach does not necessarily mean engagement. 


Now that you’ve reordered reach with the greatest reach first, try reordering it again.  To reorder the column, roll your cursor over the word reach again.  When you see the word “Reach” turn blue, click on it and it will reorder the entire column. 




The post with the lowest reach will become the first entry followed by the post with the second lowest reach and so on.  This gives you the ability to find out exactly which posts are NOT performing as compared to the posts that are performing. 


Using this information you will start seeing post trends so you can put together a story of your readers.  This tried and true process allows you to see into the minds of your readers and find out what your readers like and what they like the most.  How’s that for immediate and accurate market research?  The goal is to attain the greatest reach possible.  After you’ve identified content the drives the greatest reach, start working on calls to action to engage your readers (Engagement). 


The Reach analytic tells you how many people receive your content.  It does not mean they are reading or engaging with your content.  To find out who is engaging with your posts watch the column “Engagement.”  It will tell you what action, if any, readers took after reading your posts.  You can reorder the engagement column the same way you reordered the reach column to find out the level of engagement you fans have with each post.


Use analytics whenever you can.  Your time is an unrenewable resource.  Get the most out of your time and above all go forth and be prosperous.








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Mike Bitter
Affordable Social Media, Inc.
(402) 216-8126

Re: An Explanation of Social Media Reach

Great article Mike! I have been having this conversation with a few clients and I think sharing this with them will help a lot.



Participating Solution Provider

Re: An Explanation of Social Media Reach



Thank you for the feedback.  I don't always know what to write and sometimes I just choose information I feel would be helpful to me.  Thanks again for the feedback.  






Mike Bitter
Affordable Social Media, Inc.
(402) 216-8126
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