The Difference between Reach and Followers

the difference between reach and follower

The biggest mistake companies make when talking about Influencer Marketing is considering Followers and Reach to be the same thing. 
Previously, it came naturally to purchase and evaluate campaigns with influencers based on the overall number of their followers. This happened for two reasons: the number of followers is publicly visible and thus easy to monitor, plus all social platforms used to give it a high relevance. 
Back to that time, perhaps by assonance with a metric used in traditional media planning, the sum of followers of all the influencers involved in a campaign was considered to be the Reach. This meant that in a campaign with 10 influencers, each with 10k followers, the Reach was thought to be 100k people.

This linguistic approximation might not have been noticed in the past, but today it is unthinkable to mix these two numbers for at least three reasons.

  • Influencer Marketing can no longer be evaluated on the basis of an ordinary media activity, i.e. a mere purchase of advertising space on Influencers’ profiles. Those who still do this are actually relegating the Influencer Marketing to a tactical role without considering its strategic importance. Today, if you want to get the most out of Influencers engagement, you should think in a strategic way: Creators shouldn’t be considered passive figures who just repeat pre-packaged messages, but “creative messengers” instead, able to add real value to the brand and its audience.
  • The number of followers is not a reliable indicator of effectiveness. Following the huge growth of subscribers, all social platforms now use algorithms to sort content to users. This means that only a minimal percentage of the followers, changing along with the extent of the follower base, will be able to see the content published by a certain profile. Evaluating a campaign by looking at the number of followers would thus be a mistake. Even bigger if you add up the followers of all the influencers involved in a campaign, because there will probably be overlaps. 
  • Social platforms now allow to get the Reach or Effective Reach, that is the number of unique people or accounts that saw a certain social content because it has appeared on their screen. This is a net value as it counts the person and not the times that this has seen the content, likely from more devices.
    Besides, this metric is only visible to those who produced the content. In case of Influencer Marketing activities, companies usually ask the Creator to provide a screenshot to prove the result obtained. As these images could be fake, the best solution would be relying on companies that have access to the actual Reach. Buzzoole platform is one of these, as it can automatically recover this result from the profile insights (thanks to first-party data).

It is now clear how important it is to know and manage all these different metrics as they are essential for efficient Influencer Marketing activities.

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This post is also available in: Italian

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Vincenzo is the Head of Marketing Italy of Buzzoole. He worked for Microsoft, Digital PR, Blogmeter. He’s the author of “Social Media ROI” and “La Società dei dati”. His blog www.vincos.it is well known for analysis related to social media and communication. He loves to take pictures and brewing specialty coffee. You can get in touch with him at @vincos.

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