When measuring engagement on social media, there are two main metrics you should be aware of: reach and impressions. Reach is used to measure who sees your content and engages with it through likes, comments, or shares. Impressions, on the other hand, is defined by the total number of people that your content is visible to. Unlike reach, impressions don’t track people who click or engage with your content, only those who are exposed to it.

While both metrics are fairly similar, there are a few important patterns to be aware of. Typically, impressions are higher than reach, as impressions count exposure, while reach counts interaction, so impressions are often close to the number of followers you have. Different social media sites have their own rules for how they count impressions and reach, so keep reading to learn more about the differences between Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.


Facebook impressions are measured by the number of times your ad appeared on a user’s screen. If a Facebook user scrolls past an ad on their screen, then scrolls back up to that ad, it counts as one impression. If the ad appears for the user again within 24 hours, that is counted as two impressions.


Twitter counts an impression anytime a user sees a tweet. Threads own individual impressions, so if an initial tweet earns 400 impressions, and a reply to that tweet earns 200, your total impressions for that thread are 600.


Instagram impressions are defined as the number of times a user sees a story, IGTV video, or post. Reach is defined by the number of unique users that interact with your posts. In this case, “unique” means a mix of followers and people you see your content based on common interests. So, if a user is interested in fashion, their timeline will be populated with suggestions for fashion accounts. That user is considered a unique user in that category. If impressions are higher than reach, it is possible that your audience is looking at your posts multiple times a day, perhaps every couple of times they open the app.

So… which is more important?

When deciding which metric is more important to track, think about your business goals. If ads are something you want to pay close attention to, close in on impressions. This is because all of your promoted and sponsored content is measured by the number of people seeing your ad. Also, if this is your goal, think about using Twitter or Facebook, as these apps are driven mainly by impressions.

If raising brand awareness and engagement is your main goal, you may want to focus on reach, as you can get an idea of how many leads you are gaining with each interaction on your posts. And if this is your priority, Instagram may be a better place to start.

Regardless of your end goal, tracking these metrics will give you a greater sense of what you need to improve in your business plan. Different apps count impressions and reach in their own way, so understanding these differences will improve your analysis of your social media strategy, and will allow you to better achieve your goals for the future.

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