Facebook Engagement is the new Reach

I always had a problem with the way Facebook marketers chase reach. But it is not for those typical reasons that you have heard “gurus” preach like a broken record.

I’m talking about the way that Facebook marketers view reach.

They think that it is a good measure of brand awareness contributed by their social media marketing efforts.

The more discerning marketers know that reach is not a good measure of brand awareness because it refers to how many people could have potentially seen your post as opposed to actually seeing it.

So they (not you, I know you’re smart) include other metrics like new Page Likes and Post Likes to give a more balanced measure of awareness.

But two wrongs don’t make a right. Marketers who continue to do so are painting a dangerous picture to their clients and bosses. When you present a ridiculously high figure like reach as a measure of brand awareness, you might mislead your clients and bosses to ask you the next question, “why are my sales not increasing then?”

So instead of looking at reach as a measure of awareness (and it should be a measure of exposure, not awareness), consider the safer bet: page engagement.

Facebook defines engagement as any form of click on your page content, including post likes, comments, and shares. I have also written extensively about what engagement means.

In short, Facebook engagement refers to anyone who has taken action on your page content. And since anyone who has clicked on something from your page is likely to have seen your page, you can safely claim Facebook engagement as your brand awareness level.

But what about those who might have seen your content but did not click on anything? This applies when you have a short status update or a single photo with a short copy that does not require the user to click on “see more” or the photo to consume the content.

Well, if you are that worried, then you could look at Facebook engagement as the minimum level of brand awareness your marketing efforts have achieved. On the other extreme, you have Facebook reach, which reflects the maximum level of brand awareness your marketing efforts have achieved.


An advanced perspective of awareness

Okay, now that we have ironed out the nitty-gritty of awareness, I would like to share my own perspective and how I usually measure awareness driven by marketing campaigns.

First, I like to break it into 3 levels:

  • Ad or Content awareness
  • Brand awareness
  • Message awareness

1. Ad or content awareness

Ad or content awareness refers to the number of people who can recall your ad or content, whether the recall is aided or not. Aided recall means that you provided some form of recognition or memory triggers to help the respondent remember what he or she saw.

2. Brand awareness

Brand awareness on the other hand refers to whether people remember that the ad or content came from your brand and whether they associate it with your brand when prompted.

Measuring brand awareness usually requires a targeted survey to be conducted, whether it is an online or offline survey. An online survey could be conducted on random website visitors or through Facebook, where you promote the link to your survey to the same target audience as your ad or content.

3. Message awareness

Finally, message awareness demonstrates whether people know and understand the message you are trying to convey with your ad or content. This is a big quality check on your ad and content because it isolates the objective of your ad from the creativity put into delivering that message. In other words, if your respondents don’t understand your ad or content the same way you intended it to, no matter how creative your delivery was, it is considered a failure.


The limitation of Social Media

Standalone social media cannot tell you exactly how many people are aware of your brand or message, although they are sufficient to reflect the primary level of ad or content awareness.

However, that is not to say that it is impossible to measure brand or message awareness, if these pieces of information are important to you or your clients. Less used methods such as running ads to promote marketing surveys can be highly effective and accurate in measuring these objectives.

The key lesson to take away from this article is that if you want to measure your KPIs, make sure you do it the right way and avoid taking shortcuts. If you are going to take shortcuts, then don’t measure it in the first place.

Do you agree with what I proposed? Do share or start a discussion with me in the comments below.

  • Abhishek Sharma

    Nice article. I do agree with you, while we look at actual performance measurement we should consider reach as a measure of exposure & engagement as awareness. But what about “Impressions”, are they not the measure of exposure?

    • http://jasonhjh.com/ Jason HJH

      Hey Abhishek,

      Impressions are indeed estimates of awareness. But impressions refer to the total number of times your ad was served, including the cases when it was served to the same person, while reach refers to the number of people who have seen your ad. I find that reach becomes more useful than impressions when you’re looking at how many people your ad reached, rather than how many times it was served to your target audience.

      Hope this clarifies!


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