The Difference Between Instagram Impressions and Reach

It is not strictly necessary to understand all the technicalities of Instagram to run a successful campaign. Nevertheless, getting to grips with the platform’s most important social signals and ranking factors is essential.

Two examples of which are impressions and reach - often confused as one and the same.

The difference between impressions and reach is fairly subtle, but important nonetheless. Tracking, monitoring and analysing both impressions and reach should form a core part of your content strategy on Instagram.

An exercise that begins by drawing the line between these two metrics.

What Are Impressions on Instagram?

According to Instagram itself, impressions are “the total number of times that your post has been seen”. A description that sounds fairly broad, but is nonetheless right on the money.

In an everyday example, a post on Instagram with 50,000 impressions will have been seen 50,000 times. However, this does not indicate that the post was seen by 50,000 different people. It could be that some of those who saw the post saw it multiple times.

In addition, impressions do not provide any indication of interaction or engagement. Even when something appears on a user’s feed and they simply scroll past it without looking at it, this still qualifies as an impression.

As for why this matters, impressions are one of several metrics analysed by Instagram’s indexation algorithm. Impressions are a measure of popularity and relevance in the eyes of Instagram’s bots, influencing which posts are recommended, promoted and showcased.

The more impressions a post accumulates, the more likely it is to benefit from heightened exposure.

What is Reach on Instagram?

By contrast, reach refers to how many unique users have seen a post on Instagram within a specific time period. Reach differs from impressions in its indication of unique views - not the total number of views.

This therefore means that if the same person views a post 10, 100 or even 1,000 times, its reach ‘value’ is still just 1.

Reach is another a major ranking factor on Instagram, though again offers no insights into engagement or interaction. It simply gives you an indication of who you are reaching with your content.

Why is it Important to Analyse Impressions and Reach?

Tracking impressions and reach matters at it is the only realistic way of finding out who is actually seeing your posts. Engagement holds the key to a successful Instagram strategy, but engagement cannot occur if you are not reaching the right people.

Analysis of impressions and reach can help you determine if your posts are being seen by an appropriate audience. You gain insights into how many people are seeing your content, where they are located and other demographic-specific data.

All of which can subsequently be used to refine and improve your content marketing strategy accordingly.

The easiest way to track reach and impressions is to use Instagram Insights - the platform’s own analytics tool. Third-party tracking applications are available, but Instagram Insights is by far the easiest to use.