Traditionally, marketing is a method of ensuring a business’s offerings or message are seen by as many eyeballs as possible in order to keep a business prominent and successful. This was the route taken when marketing messages circulated through mediums such as television and billboards. How consumers reacted to such messages was measured primarily by purchases. This approach is tried and true, but has recently taken a back seat thanks to social media.
In this digital age, social media has dominated, creating a more global network and more interconnectedness than ever before. It presents an opportunity for marketers to reach more people, or eyeballs, than ever before. But, there is one major difference: marketers can now gauge how many people have viewed their message and how many consumers have reacted to it. Therein lies the difference between impressions and expressions.
Impressions have served as a valid form of measurement in marketing for many years. They are a measure of how many people have simply seen your ad: the amount of eyeballs it has captured the attention of. But this type of measurement does not answer the question of how consumers felt about the advertisement. It fails to address whether consumers had a positive, negative, or even neutral reaction to the marketing message, which makes it slightly more difficult for marketers to adjust their message in a time-efficient manner. Linking sales data to impressions is not always cut and dry, which is why expressions are so significant.
While impressions are the amount of people that have viewed an ad, an expression takes the relationship between advertising and consumers a step further. Expressions are a measurement of a consumer's action in response to an ad beyond just viewing it. In terms of social media, this has come to mean ‘liking’, ‘re-tweeting’, or otherwise sharing a post. The extra time, albeit fleeting, that the consumer has invested in the marketing message by either reacting to or sharing it is incredibly valuable to marketers who want to understand what works for their target audience and what doesn’t. It is through amassing expressions that a post can go viral, any marketer’s dream.
Expressions provide a more in-depth measure of success for advertisers and can even increase the number of impressions. For example, if a social media user with 300 followers on Twitter re-tweets your marketing message, presumably, a large portion of their 300 followers will now see the ad. This means that your ad can reach more impressions than originally intended, which can’t hurt!
When working with your marketing team, be sure to ask them about their take on impressions versus expressions and how they plan to track both. Marketers that understand social media have the advantage of staying up to date on the latest trends in consumer behavior, which means they will have a better knowledge of how to reach your audience.