Reach vs Engagement

Getting to know the basics: Facebook’s Reach vs Engagement

Social media – we love it and hate it, right? Whether you’ve never quite caught on, or you’d like to do a little better with what you have, there is no doubt that with some extra time and effort you can get your social media strategy roaring with success.

For the purpose of simplicity, this piece will focus on Facebook. Though, you could apply the following information with just about all of your social media channels.

Facebook has extensive data and ways to track success readily available for businesses to use – all for free! But before you can truly take advantage of the many features, it pays to understand the basics best, first.

I’d like to expand further on the difference between “reach” and “engagement” as these are the two most commonly seen statistics on your posts, and the one most people get confused by.

So let’s go ahead and break it down simply and then look at what it means for you.

What is Facebook Reach?

Reach is the number of people who have seen your post. This is different from impressions in that the number of people is unique. Impressions count the total number of times your post has appeared on a screen, whereas reach tracks the number of unique views on a post.

There are two main ways your posts achieve their reach: organic and paid. Paid is, well, obviously paid for. This is when you “boost” content or create an ad. While boosting is tempting – because you want to see your reach grow, I understand – it’s recommended you avoid that option all together. Ads on the other hand are just fine.

But that’s a topic for another time. What you really want to do is focus on your organic reach. 

What is Organic Reach?

To put it simply, organic reach is the number of people who see your post without putting any money into it. Your organic reach starts with those who follow your page and grows depending on the engagement you get from your followers. However, your posts are not guaranteed to reach all of your page followers. 

Depending on how your posts typically perform, Facebook’s algorithm will either push your content to your followers, or hinder it. For example, if you typically have the same six people who engage with your content, Facebook will assume those same six people would like to see your new posts. Your posts will almost always appear in their newsfeed. 

If a post of yours gets more likes, comments and shares than usual, Facebook will treat it as a viral piece of content and push it to more of your followers who may be more likely to engage with it, thus increasing your organic reach. 

Let me step back for a second. I feel I should explain this snowball effect of a climbing organic reach..

When you like or comment on a public post, your Facebook friends see this. Your friends can then choose to engage with the same content. This is organic reach. This is the bread and butter of social media. 

You want your content to be so engaging that people will interact with it without you having to spend a cent. Even better, Facebook rewards those who post engaging content because you’re assisting in keeping users on the app. So the more engaging your content, the more people Facebook will put it to.

If you aren’t getting good traction on your posts, then you need to sit down and reevaluate your social media strategy, and you need to find a way to create better content.

But don’t let numbers get you down! It’s okay to have just six people ‘liking’ your content if your page has 600 or fewer followers. Why is that? Well that brings us to engagement.

What is Facebook Engagement?

Facebook engagement calculates the number of times people clicked to read or view your post, liked, commented, and shared. So, basically any interaction on a post.

While engagement and reach measure two completely different outcomes, they work hand-in-hand to help guide you in your social media strategy.

Let’s say your post has a reach of 410 people and your engagement is 68. This does not equate to 68 people engaging with your content. It could be 34 people who clicked to read and then like, or it could be 18 people who liked or commented and another 32 who clicked but didn’t interact.

To reiterate, engagement tracks all activity on a post. So while high engagement is great, it’s relative to the reach.

An easy way to tell whether a post is successful is to take note of the engagement to reach ratio. A good engagement will be at least 1% that of the reach – a ratio considered to be successful on Facebook

The same works for your followers. If you have 1000 followers and at least 10 people are consistently interacting with your content, then you’re doing okay.

But you’re not striving for okay, are you? 

If you’re hitting 1% engagement, that’s wonderful. You can use this as a stepping stone to hit 1.2%, 1.5%, 2%. 

When your page is consistently getting 2% to 5% engagement – congratulations! Your content type is on point and your fans are happy with what you’re posting.

The next steps…

Wanting to increase your organic reach and post engagement? Firstly, forget about your page followers. I know the first thought is, “I need more page likes”. But actually you could cause more damage to your brand by growing your page likes before your engagement.

If your page followers grow but your engagement remains stagnant – or worse, decreases – you’re making it much more difficult to win against Facebook’s algorithm.

The trick is to focus on your current following, and look at what works and what doesn’t. If you can increase engagement with your current fans – which will have a positive affect on your organic reach – this can lead to a natural increase in followers.

In any case, you want your engagement to be strong as that indicates to yourself that what you’re doing is right.

But how do you know what to post? Finding the right brand, voice and style will have to be saved for another time. However you can start today by using Facebook’s nifty feature, ‘Insights’.

Under ‘Insights’ is a section called ‘Posts’. Here you can see all of the posts you’ve made. Look at the post type (whether it were a photo, a video, a link), the reach, and the engagement. Make sure you also consider post times, as this can also affect the success of a post. 

You might find some post types work better than others. And within a certain post type, you might find a certain style or topic received a better response.

Analysing the success of posts may be tedious, but it’s worthwhile. I recommend starting a spreadsheet and plotting in the information monthly. Every three months, have a look and adjust accordingly.

And most importantly – have fun! Social media is about being social. If you’re not enjoying yourself, it’s not worth it.

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