What does Facebook’s ‘people saw this post’ number mean?

14 Oct

If you’re a Facebook page admin, you have surely noticed the “people saw this post” number at the bottom of every post.

By Facebook’s definition, that stat represents the number of people who saw the post in their screen. They didn’t necessarily click on your link/photo/post – though they may have – it just means the post appeared on their screen.

Because the statistic doesn’t tell you whether someone clicked your link, it may not sound useful. But don’t discard it completely, even if it is a vanity statistic.

Here are the pros and cons:

Bad

So you know how many people saw your post? Great. That’s about as valuable as your number of fans. It’s nothing but an indicator of potential. The number of people who could have clicked your link, answered your question, entered your contest, etc.

Penny Hardaway had a lot of potential. So did Michael Jordan One of them won six NBA championships, the other didn’t win any.

Good

This statistic is quite useful for gauging how well you’re doing in Facebook’s News Feed. Although the proprietary formula has more than 100,000 variables, monitoring your “people saw this post” number gives you a solid idea of which posts you create are most engaging, and which fell flat, so you can do more of the latter and less of the former.

Organic vs. Paid

Organic reach is the number of people who saw the post because they like your page, or someone who likes your page interacted with it so their friend(s) saw it.

Paid reach is the number of people who saw your post because you “boosted” it (another topic altogether) and wouldn’t have seen it.

You can find each number by hovering over the “people saw this post” number on any given post.

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It’s worth nothing there used to be a “viral reach” number, which was users who don’t like your page but still saw the post because their friends “created a story” from your post – by liking, sharing or commenting on it – and it showed up in the non-likers newsfeed. This is no longer part of Facebook insights.

What affects it?

In a word: interaction. If people click on your post – the link to your Facebook page, a photo you included, an outbound link, the like button – that boosts its score. If they comment, even better. The holy grail, though, is the “share.”

Sharing on Facebook is equivalent to retweeting on Twitter. And that’s the item most likely to boost your “viral” number. If someone with 1,000 friends shares your post, that’s up to 1,000 more people who could see your post that wouldn’t have otherwise, assuming none of them already like your page.

If someone shares your post on their page, you could reach thousands, or even millions more people, depending on their following. (There’s no limit to how many fans a page can have, but the maximum number of friends for personal profiles is 5,000.)

Compare the difference a share made on one of these two posts from my Facebook page.

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To be sure, these are modest numbers because my page only has a few dozen fans (you can change that!). Regardless, getting strong interaction on your posts is primarily about two things:

1. The content of your post. 2. The quality with which you present it. If you do those two things well, everything else will fall into place.

A final note

There’s no telling how these numbers will be affected when Facebook finally rolls out its new News Feed to everyone. But until then, have at it.

What tips you have for increasing the reach of posts on your page?

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11 Responses to “What does Facebook’s ‘people saw this post’ number mean?”

  1. David Read December 25, 2013 at 4:38 pm #

    How does “number of people saw this post” correlate to the quality of the post? FB either puts in their feed, or doesn’t. And some of a page’s fans don’t open their browser. Others have their Newsfeed automatically repopulate, and may never even look at their screen. Kinda like the number of cars driving down a road doesn’t correlate to views of a billboard.

    • bradgerick December 29, 2013 at 10:12 pm #

      Using your great analogy, the “better” the post (the more interaction/clicks it gets), the more cars Facebook puts on the road. Sure, they may not all look at the billboard, but it increases the number of drivers, and therefore opportunities, for it to be seen.

  2. NVus Designs January 15, 2014 at 12:02 pm #

    I wonder how it is possible that our page with 1150 real likes has posts that are only seen by 100 people, it’s not that you can skip it in your newsfeed.

    • bradgerick January 15, 2014 at 3:52 pm #

      True, and the problem is Facebook chooses what to display, so even if you post, it’s not guaranteed to show up in your fans’s News Feeds.

      The more they come to your page and interact with posts they _do_ see in their Feed, the more likely Facebook’s algorithm will be to put your posts in your fans’s feeds more often.

  3. Legrand Gkid Gakosso Edouard April 8, 2014 at 11:17 am #

    How do I remove the ”people saw this” tag from my status? so only I see it and not everybody else.

    • bradgerick April 9, 2014 at 4:10 pm #

      I don’t believe it’s public. You’re probably only seeing it on pages for which you’re an admin. Correct me if I’m wrong.

  4. Anne April 22, 2014 at 3:59 pm #

    Thanks for this great explanation. I’ve been trying to figure out how the numbers could vary so widely for this one statistic, and I (think) I almost understand it now.

  5. Robert Dunstan May 13, 2014 at 12:52 am #

    Thanks for this. Very informative and I understand it much better now. Cheers.

  6. alenistar May 16, 2014 at 9:00 am #

    Thanks for the insight this was helpful!

    • bradgerick May 16, 2014 at 7:53 pm #

      Glad to help! Glad you found it useful.

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