A look at how different social platforms compute metrics, and how it is done at Scrunch
At Scrunch, we work with influencers and social media platforms every day. A question that comes up quite regularly is “Why is your data different to Instagram / Twitter / etc?”. So, in this article, we explore the reasons why data and metrics might not be the same on every platform, and how to make sense of it all.
What does Reach, Engagement and Impressions mean?
Language is imprecise: we often use the same words, but assign different shades of meaning to them. In normal conversation, these discrepancies are largely normalised by the enormous amount of non-verbal cues that makes up any conversation… tone of voice, gestures, the flick of your eyelashes. All of this extra information is lost when we map words to numbers.
At Scrunch, we define reach, impressions and engagement by the below definitions.
- Reach is the predetermined size of the audience, so in the case of influencer marketing, it is how many followers an influencer has on a specific channel.
- Impressions is the total number of different people or households exposed, at least once, to a piece of content. Impressions = eyeballs.
- Engagement is an interaction, such as a comment, a like or a share.
However in the broader advertising and marketing space, these words take on a slightly different quality. To make things more complicated, each social has a slightly different definition for the above terms, and a slightly different formula for computing the metrics behind these terms. What this means is that impressions on Instagram is not at all the same as impressions on Twitter, or LinkedIn, or Scrunch.
On Instagram, reach is calculated as the number of unique times a post has been seen, while on LinkedIn it is the total number of times that a post has been seen. So, if a photo of a hotdog appears in your Instagram feed, that will count as 1 unit of reach, even if you looked at that hotdog ten times. On LinkedIn, however, the same hotdog viewed by yourself 10 times equates to a reach of 10 units. This is a small example, yet clearly shows why it’s important not to compare results between platforms, and assume that they have the same meaning.
At Scrunch, we calculate reach as the total of number of followers for an influencer. Hence, an influencer with a following of 10K represents a reach of 10,000 people. That doesn’t necessarily mean that their content reaches all 10,000 people though. This is the accepted definition of reach in influencer marketing.
On Instagram, impressions are the total number of views. Going back to our hotdog example, if I look at a picture of a hotdog ten times on Instagram, this will count as 10 units of impression. On LinkedIn, we speculate that impressions have the same meaning, but it’s hard to say as we have found no definition for what “number of times seen” corresponds to.
At Scrunch, we define impressions on the number of eyeballs on the content, so the number of views in total. This data is not always public and sometimes influencers don't even have access to it.
For example, on Instagram, impressions are a private metric and are only available to the influencer if they have a business account. When working with influencers on Instagram, we request that they send a screenshot of their impressions.
Where this is not available, you could calculate the average impressions, which is helpful if not all influencers have access to this data, but the majority do. To do this, you can divide the total number of impressions available by the total follower count of the posts that have impression data. You can then use this percentage and apply it to the whole campaign to get an idea of the average impressions for all posts.
Engagement is generally considered the most significant metric in influencer marketing, as it represents an active, rather than a passive, interaction between a consumer and the content. Intuitively, if you scroll past a hotdog in your Instagram feed, that passive interaction is “worth less” than if you stop, like, and perhaps even comment about how much you enjoyed eating that specific hotdog.
Not surprisingly, the way that engagement is computed varies quite a lot between social platforms. On Instagram, engagement is the total number of likes and comments on a post. On LinkedIn, it is the total number of likes, clicks, comments and shares. Twitter changes the formula up yet again: calculating engagement as the total number of times a user interacts with a Tweet, which includes clicks on the Tweet, Retweets, replies and Tweet expansions.
At Scrunch, we calculate engagement as the total number of likes and comments on a piece of content.
So, that provides a little insight into why the data in Scrunch might be different to the data displayed on other social channels or platforms. Just like the data in Twitter is different to the data in Instagram, because each platform has its own way of calculating, processing and displaying data. To make it even more complicated, there are multiple definitions for reach, engagements and impressions.
It doesn’t mean that one source is more accurate than the other, however it is important to keep this in mind when comparing different data sources.