Facebook post reach, explained
How do I calculate monthly reach? Can I just add daily reach and get a nice sum for a longer period of time? What’s the difference between average reach and total reach? While many social media metrics are straightforward, nothing causes more confusion than reach. Read on to find out how Facebook defines it, how many types of reach there are, and what that means for you.
So, what exactly is Facebook reach?
According to Facebook, Post Reach is the number of unique users who had any content from your Facebook Page or about your Page enter their screen. To make matters a bit more complicated, it’s calculated in 1-day, 7-day, and 28-day increments. For example:
- If a user sees your content twice on one day and then twice the next day and you choose reach in 1-day increments, the user will be counted once on day 1 and once on day 2.
- If you choose 7-day or 28-day reach, that user will only be counted once in the 7-day and 28-day period, respectively. Regardless of the amount of times they see your type of content.
What are the different types of Facebook reach?
Facebook defines two basic types of reach:
- Post reach is the total number of people who saw a post in their Facebook news feed
- Page reach is how many people had any of your content enter their feed
Both of these types of reach can be further divided into:
- Organic reach – this is the reach that you got for free thanks to Facebook’s algorithm. It includes your fans seeing your content in their feed when you post it, people seeing your pictures and albums, or users who see mentions of your profile in their feed
- Viral reach – these are the people who saw your content thanks to a third person, not directly from you. So, for example, one of your fans shared your post and their friends saw it – they would be counted as viral reach
- Paid reach – this one is self-explanatory. These are all of the users who saw your content through Facebook advertising (aka target audience).
What does all this mean?
The most important thing is that you cannot sum up reach. This is a key metric that is based on unique users and only makes sense if viewed in the context of the 1-, 7-, and 28-day timeframes that Facebook has defined. For example, when analyzing reach in 7-day increments, a user may have seen your content 2 times in one week, and 2 times in the second week. In both cases, they should be counted as 1 user per week. However, you can’t add them up, since the sum will no longer convey unique users.
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Another thing that should be mentioned is total reach. This is not, as some may believe, a sum (which, as we already know, is a big no-no). This is just another way to call page or post reach over a certain period of time and it includes both organic and paid reach.
Some social media marketers still believe that organic reach on Facebook is generally equal to the amount of fans you have. This is not the case. First of all, the Facebook algorithm decides who gets to see your post, and that’s not going to be your entire fan base. Second, organic reach isn’t limited to your fans, it also incorporates events like mention views.
The future of Facebook reach
Since 2014, organic reach has been steadily declining, mostly due to the platform’s growth and larger amounts of content that suddenly started appearing. The ad content space became more and more competitive with time, and Facebook made the decision to not show everyone everything there is to show. Instead, users would see only content that was most relevant to them. This, of course, meant that audiences would shrink, and organic posts’ reach would continue to shrink as well.
More changes came in 2018, when Facebook decided to overhaul the algorithms that decide what gets shown in users’ feeds. In January 2018, Mark Zuckerburg wrote a post, explaining that the company will drive its focus towards maintaining connections between people. Sounds great, right? For business owners, not so much.
One of the things that changed wasn’t reach per say, it was the way reach was calculated. Up until February 2018, the reach metric took into account how many times your content has been loaded in the news feed. As of today, Facebook calculates reach based on how many times a post enters a person’s screen. This is supposed to make organic reach of Pages more consistent with the way Facebook measures reach for ads.