The REAL difference between potential vs. actual impressions

Understanding the difference between actual and potential Twitter impressions can seem confusing to those who don’t consider themselves media analytics experts, but don’t worry! It’s much more simple than you think, and very similar to understanding the difference between paid advertisements and public relations when assessing the value of your Orlando marketing agency. To help guide your media analytics spend, we have broken down the difference between each category, as well as when, and how to use them. 

What is an actual impression:

An actual impression is the equivalent of paid media. It represents the actual number of times your tweet (or ad) is seen by your prospective audience. When you send content into the Twitterverse, your actual impressions track the exact number of people who have seen your post. We liken this to your paid advertising initiatives because when you buy media, you often know exactly how long your advertisement will run, how many people will see it, and the scope of your campaign. Actual impressions represent that same raw data.

When and how to use actual impressions:

Tracking your actual impressions can give you a clear understanding of week-over-week or year-over-year growth. It can unlock your ROI based on the number of people who have seen your content versus sales coming in, and is the general foundation of your media analytics dashboard. Actual impressions are a critical KPI that shows how far your content is going.

What is a potential impression:

Potential impressions align best with public relations mentions because they represent what “could” or “might” happen. Potential as a KPI reveals your brand’s influence or clout. When a publicist secures a product mention on your favorite blogger’s site, there is no guarantee that every single one of the blogger’s followers will read the article and notice your product placement, but the potential is there. Similarly, if a celebrity or tastemaker shares your posts, your content’s potential to influence new prospects has increased exponentially based on their pool of followers.

When and how to use potential impressions:

Tracking potential impressions is critical if you are partnering with other brands, engaging with other accounts, and encouraging the viral spread of your content. The impact is a little less straightforward than actual impressions because the figure represents total potential views, rather than what has historically taken place.


Any media analytics expert will tell you that tracking both actual and potential impressions blends nicely; depending on the type of campaigns you’re running and the information you want to learn about your customers. Our team can help you dig into which is right for your brand and tailor a campaign around your needs.

And More