Reach vs. Engagement: What Matters More

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Whether you are directly handling your social media marketing or outsourcing the job, chances are you have heard the terms “reach” and “engagement.” But what exactly do those terms mean and, more importantly, how do they affect the success of your marketing?

On the most basic level, these terms are defined as follows:

  • Engagement: The number of interactions your content received from users (likes, comments, shares, saves, etc.)
  • Reach: The number of people who see your content

Let’s dive a little deeper into the definition of these terms and how they all affect the success of your marketing campaigns.

Social Engagement

Engagement is, arguably, the most important of the three metrics to pay attention to when you’re measuring social media success. Why? Having someone simply see your content is one thing, but involving them and moving them to take action is another.

When your content inspires a user to take an action, that moves them leaps and bounds ahead in your brand’s funnel of awareness and hopefully a sales funnel.

Social Reach

It’s helpful to think of “reach” as the number of unique people who actually see your content. First, a piece of content must be delivered to a feed (see: impressions), then a user has to interact with the platform to actually see the piece of content in their feed (reach).

What About Impressions?

An “impression” means that a piece of content was delivered to someone’s feed. Whether they saw it or not is a different matter (see: reach). Impressions measure how many times a post was displayed, no matter if it was clicked or not. Meaning, one person can create many impressions – BUT they only count as a single “reach.”

Does Reach or Engagement Matter More?

Social reach and engagement both influence customers at different levels during the buying cycle. You cannot have a good engagement rate if you don’t reach enough people – and to have a good reach you must have a sizable number of followers. Once you establish a good fanbase, you need to keep feeding them with good content for the reach to turn into an engagement.

When people start following you, they get to understand you, what you stand for, and what your niche is. You can then use this knowledge to promote a brand, without sounding like a pushy, in-your-face kind of advertisement. And if they value your opinion, they will engage with your post which will generate leads for the brand you are promoting.

Where Reach and Engagement Come Into Play

As mentioned, both reach and engagement play a role in the success of your marketing. Depending on the campaign or its objectives, either of the two could be more valuable.

Different campaigns with different goals prefer different metrics. Social reach could work wonders for branding and awareness campaigns, but brands that need to generate traffic to their website would want a high engagement rate.


  • Direct Sales
  • Traffic
  • Brand Awareness
  • Product Launch


  • Brand Loyalty
  • Customer Service
  • Product/Service Feedback
  • Lead Nurturing


  • Assisted Sales
  • Promotions
  • Hiring
  • Fans/Followers
  • Thought Leadership

In short: To fulfill multiple marketing goals through social media, your brand needs to optimize for reach AND engagement. 

How To Boost Those Numbers

The difference between social reach and engagement may be clear – but remember, rarely do higher reach numbers mean a higher engagement rate.

You may be targeting your audience right and you might even be reaching them but getting the audience to interact with the content can be tricky – and will certainly take time.

Here are a few points to consider while creating posts to increase your engagement rate:

  • Craft your posts with your customers in mind, as opposed to your business. Think about what your customers find most important and post information they’d be likely to share. Remember – it’s not about you.
  • Incorporate things for your audience to actively engage in such as polls and questions for them to answer. 
  • Take out time to interact with your followers and reply to their comments.
  • Be visual – include pictures in your posts that relate to what your followers like to see.
  • Stay consistent.
  • Stay on brand.
  • Stay authentic.

What Have We Learned?

The final word – You can’t complete the puzzle if either of them is missing.

If you’re struggling to measure reach and engagement, or are looking for a boost in those numbers, reach out to the Pathfinder team today! We’re here to help bring your digital marketing to the next level!