It’s Facebook Friday — each week we’ll offer one tip for leveraging Facebook to increase customer awareness of and engagement with your brand or business. This week we’ll talk about the definition of Facebook’s “Reach” metric, and what the figure on individual Page updates that says how many people “saw this post” means.

The latter in particular might seem straightforward: It’s how many people saw the post that you published, right? Well, that’s absolutely true, but some folks miss an important detail.

The number represents not just the number of people who’ve seen the post you published, but also the number of people who saw the post if it was republished to them by someone else.

The same is true of the metric called “Reach” in Facebook Insights or in Sprout Social’s own Facebook reports tool. It’s not just the number of people who’ve Liked your Page and thus see your update. Every time someone shares (or in some cases Likes) your content, that content can be seen by their own friends, and the Reach number represents these impressions.

It may seem like a fine distinction, but it can make a big difference when posts go viral. If you share stuff other people want to share, you could reach many multiples of the number of individuals you’re publishing to directly.

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[Image credit: Evan Hahn]