After Facebook announced that a bug led to reported reach being lower for many pages, social media expert Jon Loomer started wondering why several marketers see reach as the holy grail of insights. Facebook claimed that the bug only tweaked the reporting, but not the actual results, meaning that reach was actually higher than realized for many pages. Loomer feels that engagement, not reach, is what page administrators should strive for.

Loomer noted that reach is nearly impossible to accurately track, as it just gives page managers a statistic showing how many people might have seen a post, and not how many actually did:

Facebook reach measures the number of users who may have seen your content because it was displayed to them during a designated period of time.

 It’s not the number of people who saw your content. It’s not the number of people who engaged with your content. It’s the number of people who could have seen it if they were focused on a specific part of the page at a specific time.

Measuring reach is an inexact science. It can’t be proven. You have to take Facebook’s word for it. As a result, I refer to reach as the “imaginary stat.”

Loomer crunched the numbers on his own Facebook page, monitoring the reach and engagement on status updates, photos, and links. He found that (for his page, at least) there was no direct correlation between reach and engagement. Loomer noted that for admins who are focused on getting engagement, reach should not be the primary metric examined.

Loomer also wrote about how marketers who have been angry with Facebook (especially after November changes to the news feed algorithm commonly known as EdgeRank) should re-examine their strategies and stop focusing on reach as the sole marker of post performance:

Are you motivated to promote a post because the reach is lower than you’d like? Because if you do, please stop.

When you measure the success of your Facebook marketing, do you create a report highlighting how many people you may have reached to make your point? Because if you do, please stop.

I won’t claim that no marketers do either of these two things. But bug or no bug, it’s a recipe for marketing failure.

The suggestion is that we should be furious that Facebook didn’t do a better job of correcting the bug associated with an inexact measurement; a measurement that can easily be reported differently — and truthfully — because it is inexact and can’t be proven.

Readers: Do you agree or disagree with Loomer?

Image courtesy of Shutterstock.