What is Facebook Reach and How Is It Calculated?

Understanding performance should be an integral part of any social media marketing strategy. And what better way to start than by brushing up on key metrics? 

Even though Facebook is the number one social network in terms of global monthly active users, and a key focus of many brands’ digital marketing efforts, some of the platform’s metrics are not exactly straightforward.

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? 

If you’ve ever asked any of these questions, or you generally want to better understand Facebook reach and find out how it’s relevant to your social strategy, keep reading. We will go over how Facebook defines the metric, how many different types of reach there are, and what marketers should do with all this information. 

It’s not that complicated, we promise!

So, what exactly is Facebook reach?

Let’s start with the very basics: definitions. According to Facebook, reach is the number of unique users who had any content from your Facebook Page or about your Page enter their screen. So, in simple terms, it’s the count of Facebook users who came into contact with your brand on Facebook.

The definition alone seems straightforward. What makes matters a bit more complicated, is the fact that reach is calculated in 1-day, 7-day, and 28-day increments

For example:

  • If a user sees your content twice in one day and then twice the next day, and you choose to view reach in 1-day increments, the user will be counted once on day 1 and once on day 2;
  • If you choose to view 7-day or 28-day reach, the same user will only be counted once in the 7-day and 28-day periods, respectively, regardless of the number of times they see your type of content.

What does this mean? The exact same performance in terms of reaching Facebook users can be represented in a few different ways, depending on the timespan you take into account. Keeping this in mind when analyzing your results will help you avoid misunderstandings. 

What are the different types of Facebook reach?

Understanding how Facebook reach is calculated is a good start, but it’s also important to know the differences between the different types of reach:

  • Post reach is the total number of people who saw a particular post from your Page 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 3 categories:

Organic reach

This is the reach that you get 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. 

You can boost your organic reach by finding out when your audience is the most active and working towards increasing your engagement.  

Viral reach

Viral reach consists of the people who saw your content thanks to a third person, as opposed to directly through your Page. So, for example, if one of your fans shares your post and their Facebook friends see it – they would be counted as viral reach. High viral reach is a sign that your community is highly engaged and willing to act as your ambassadors online.

Paid reach

This category is pretty self-explanatory and consists of all the users who saw your content through Facebook advertising (aka your target audience). 

You can increase your paid reach by optimizing your Facebook campaign settings: experimenting with targetting and bidding, creating new target audiences, and testing multiple creatives.

What does all this mean?

Theory is one thing – the way you apply it to benefit your strategy is another. Here are some key takeaways you should keep top of mind when analyzing your reach on Facebook.

You cannot sum up reach

Reach is a key metric that is based on the number of unique users exposed to your content.  It only makes sense when viewed in the context of the 1-, 7-, and 28-day timeframes defined by Facebook. 

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 for any of the predefined timeframes.

Understand total reach

Another thing that should be mentioned is total reach. This is not, as some may believe, a sum (again, adding reach is a big no-no) of reach calculated in shorter increments. 

Total reach is another way to call the reach of a Page or an individual piece of content in a certain timeframe that includes the different types of reach: organic, paid, and viral. 

Social media analytics

Measure your social media marketing results. Track competitors and improve performance using simple dashboards.

Try NapoleonCat free for 14 days. No credit card required.

Your number of fans does not equal your organic 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. The actual reach depends on the type of content you post, the time you post it, and many other factors. 

Second, organic reach isn’t limited to your fans. It also includes events like mention views from users outside of your fanbase.

The future of Facebook reach

Since 2014, organic reach on Facebook 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 practical decision to not show everyone everything there is to show. Instead, users would only see the content that Facebook’s algorithm deemed most relevant to them. This, of course, meant that audiences of individual Pages and profiles would shrink, and the reach of organic posts would continue to decrease as well.

Even more changes came in 2018, when Facebook decided to overhaul the algorithms that dictated what was shown in users’ feeds. In January 2018, Mark Zuckerburg wrote a post, explaining that the company was shifting its focus towards maintaining connections between people. Sounds great, right? For business owners trying to get through to new audiences with their marketing, not so much.

One of the things that changed wasn’t reach as such but the way reach was calculated. Up until February 2018, the reach metric took into account how many times your content has been loaded in individual news feeds. As of today, Facebook calculates reach based on how many times a post enters a person’s screen. This is supposed to make the organic reach of Pages more consistent with the way Facebook measures reach for ads.

Find out how we manage your personal data. You can unsubscribe at any time.

Wrap up

Facebook reach is a metric often used to assess the performance of businesses on the platform, however, it’s not as straightforward as vanity or engagement metrics. Understanding reach is a crucial step to fully understanding the effectiveness of your Facebook marketing and refining your strategy. 

We hope our guide helped make things clearer. Let us know in the comments if there is anything else you would like to know about Facebook reach!