How to track and calculate social media post reach and potential reach

Reach is essential to social media because it will help you understand the potential impact of your posts. It is crucial to quantify the size of your message's universe and know if your social media efforts are successful.

How to track and calculate social media post reach and potential reach

In an ocean of social media metrics knowing all of them could be a tedious task. However, in an article I published previously titled "The most important social media metrics worth knowing", I highlighted the ones I feel are important and worth knowing. To make it easy for you to digest these metrics, I employed Hootsuite's four-stage social media funnel to categorise them in order of importance.

The four-stage social media funnel comprises awareness, engagement, conversion, customer, and my bonus customer care metrics. 

A list of awareness metrics make up the awareness category, and I believe every social media manager or digital marketing specialist should master and know the distinguishing differences amongst them. Suppose you don't know what I am referring to about awareness metrics; this article titled "Understanding the difference amongst the 14 most popular social media awareness metrics" will help you have a good understanding.

But just to give you a high-level overview, the awareness category is made up of the following awareness metrics; post reach, potential reach, post impression, potential impression, brand mentions, video views, social share of voice (SSV), social media engagement rate, share of engagement, audience growth rate, share of audience, social media audience sentiment, influence score and conversation rate.

This article will focus on the first two metrics, post reach and potential reach and how to track and calculate them.

  1. Post reach

Reach is one of the most common metrics and represents the number of people who have seen a specific piece of social media content since it went live. The content posted can be an image post, video, infographic, and even just text. 

Neil Patel suggests that reach can help you understand the context for your content by seeing how far your content spreads and how big the audience is for your message.

If your social media goal or overall business objective is to increase brand awareness, then reach is the best metric to track. However, if you aim for better audience engagement, reach is best with other engagement metrics. You will get an engagement rate percentage by dividing reach by engagement metrics such as the number of likes, clicks, retweets, or replies.

Please refer to my previous article to get a detailed guide on how to master the skill of calculating social media engagement rate.

Post reach is essential because it's actionable, affected by the timing(i.e., when is your audience online?) and your post's content (i.e., what does your audience find valuable?). 

How to track post reach:

Step 1: Measure the total reach of any given post.

STEP 2: Divide the reach by your total number of followers and multiply by 100 to get your post reach percentage.

How to calculate post reach:

How to calculate social media post reach - Lerato Monareng

  1. Potential reach

 As mentioned above, post reach captures the actual number of people who have seen a post. Potential reach looks at estimating the number of people in a brand's target audience that could potentially be reached (i.e. theoretical reach). Courtney Seiter notes that potential reach is compounded by friends of audience members or others in a community who could have the opportunity to see a piece of content during a period.

In other words, if one of your followers shared your post with their network, approximately 2% to 5% of her followers would factor into the post's potential reach.

If your main objective is brand awareness, understanding potential reach is vital because it will help you expand your audience and gauge your progress.

How to track potential reach:

Step 1: Use a brand monitoring tool to track your total number of brand mentions.

Step 2: Record the number of followers of the account that mentioned you.

Step 3: Multiply those two numbers together to get your Theoretical Reach, or the absolute maximum number of people who could, in theory, see your brand mentions.

How to calculate potential reach:

How to calculate potential reach - Lerato Monareng

Reach is essential to social media because it will help you understand the potential impact of your posts. It is crucial to quantify the size of your message's universe and know if your social media efforts are successful.