New Pulsar feature: Reach, for audience measurement

How many people did that message reach?

It’s the big question when you’re running a marketing campaign. You want to know how many people have been exposed to your message to understand how effective your campaign has been in generating awareness. Reach has long been the key metric in TV and radio audience measurement, and services such as Alexa and Quantcast provide reach figures for websites – the number of visitors they get a day.

But reach has been incomplete in social media measurement.

Facebook Insights provides both Reach and Impressions metrics – Impressions being the number of times a Facebook page is displayed, and Reach the number of unique individuals who see it. And in August 2014, Twitter opened its Analytics dashboard to everyone – showing an impressions metric for each tweet, alongside the number of enagements (link clicks, retweets, & so on).

Thing is, Facebook Insights and Twitter Analytics only cover owned channel content.  It’s great to know how well your brand’s own posts are performing, but that’s not very, well, social! What about the things other people were saying about your brand? (What about the value of the posts produced by your expensively-wooed ‘influencer’ programme?) It’s all been a little unknown.

Social media monitoring tools have let you track the number of people saying things about your brand. But that’s only one side of communication. What about the number of people reading them?

Fixed that for  you! Our December Pulsar update includes a new Reach metric to solve exactly that.

Reach provides an estimate of how many impressions a piece of content would have generated.

It works across all social media channels – not just Twitter but Facebook, news, reviews, blogs and forums too.

This is an addition to our Volume and Visibility metrics, which have been helping you identify the most active and the most impactful content in social since we launched. Now our Reach metric will help your social media reports fit in with stats from owned channels and above-the line media.

The response from our media and PR agency clients in particular has been super-positive – with this update, we’re providing something that’s immediately useful for helping them communicate the impact of social media activities to their clients. We’re glad to hear it!

4 key things to know about Reach:

  1. It works on all social media channels – not just Twitter! Use it to compare the reach of a forum post to a Facebook one, or compare news reach against blogs
  2. You get Reach figures for every post in your search, not just owned channels. So use it to compare the value of owned & earned content
  3. See the Reach of an individual post in Results, or look at it aggregated over time in the Overview Dashboard
  4. Pulsar gives you 2 ways to understand reach: Potential Estimated Reach, and Actual. That means you can use the metric that fits best with your other reporting

Pulsar Reach visualisation

Let’s say a little more about that last point, as this will help you really customise how your brand or agency use Reach. The Pulsar dashboard shows Reach in two formats:

1. Potential Estimated Reach (PER)  

The maximum potential reach of the piece of content. The algorithm assesses the size of the audience of the author or website, plus the audiences of people who have shared that post.

Use this when: Your client needs the ‘big number’ to go “Wow, that had the potential to be seen by millions of people!”

The Potential Estimated Reach when One Direction talk about your brand might break our dashboard, the number will be so big – so do be careful! 😉

2. Actual Estimated Reach (AER) 

The actual likely number of people who’ve seen this piece of content, based on that fact that not everyone who could potentially see the post actually will see it.

For each channel, the Actual Estimated Reach is benchmarked as a proportion of the Potential Reach. We’ve done a bunch of maths based on brands’ real reach percentages from Twitter Ads API and Facebook Insights, plus industry benchmark figures and publicly available studies. From this, we’ve calculated what percentage of your total followers on each channel will on average see that post.

Use this when: You want a realistic figure for the audience reached by a particular post, to use in comparision against other media channels.

Sounds great! I want to get using Reach right away. Where do I find it on Pulsar?

  • Overview dashboard activity graph: measure volumes, visibility or Reach by day
  • Results view: sort content by Reach, and see it next to every mention (see picture below)
  • Filter panel: select content within a certain Reach range
  • Clusters: build custom charts using Reach
  • Influencers : rank authors by Reach as well as Volume, Visibility and Engagement Network

Pulsar Reach in Results view

We hope you find the Reach new feature useful in helping you get the most from Pulsar. If you have any questions, please email: and he can give you a call to discuss further. 

Otherwise please do keep in touch about how you’re finding using these features. Your feedback is invaluable in helping us create new features and improve existing functionality.

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