On the Facebook platform, the term impressions simply means the number of times a post from your page is displayed. While this might sound similar to the definition of “reach”, it is significantly different.
Individual users may actually see multiple impressions of the same post. If someone sees your post in their feed and then sees it again when a friend re-posts it, that would count as two impressions. The reach count for that same post would be one because the term reach only counts individual users once, no matter how many times they see a post.
Although reach often gets more attention, impressions are an important metric in social media marketing. There is plenty of research to support the idea that individuals need to be exposed to a brand or product multiple times before they feel connected enough to take action. Impressions, especially in relation to reach, let you know when your posts are giving users repeat exposure to your message.
Another interesting fact is that for a post or an ad to count as an impression on Facebook, it has to be considered “visible” on a user’s screen. Facebook has been proactive in making a clear distinction between “served” impressions and “viewed” impressions. This has been an important development for marketers who use impressions as a key performance indicator.
The difference between the two has to do with how digital information is delivered. On many platforms, if an ad or post is sent to page, it is counted as a “served” impression. However, this content could actually be placed in a spot on the page where no one can see it – at the very bottom “below the fold”, for example. Or a visitor could leave the site so quickly that the content can’t be rendered.
Improvements in technology have allowed Facebook and other platforms to register when this happens and exclude it from their metric. The result is “viewed” impressions – content delivery that is reasonably likely to have been seen by a user because it is actually visible on their screen and is available for a reasonable amount of time.
This refinement is a great example of how important it is to understand the definition of the metrics you are using. Facebook impressions is one of those measurements that can give you a real understanding of the scope and impact of the content you post.