If you're using Instagram as part of your social media strategy, you've definitely come across the concept of impressions. But what exactly are impressions? How accurately do they indicate success? And how do they differ from reach, another very similar Instagram metric?
First things first: to understand what Instagram impressions are, you need to know how they relate to Instagram's reach metric.
Here's an easy way to distinguish impressions from reach.
Impressions measure the number of times your post or ad appears to users. This metric doesn't take into account unique users -- so, if your post or ad is shown 100 times to the same person, it would technically count as 100 impressions.
In contrast, reach measures the number of unique users who view your post or ad. So, if your post is shown 100 times to the same person, your impressions would be 100, but your reach would be one.
What are Instagram impressions?
Instagram impressions measure the number of times your post or ad appears on screen. Impressions do not take into account unique users, so if your post or ad is viewed by the same person multiple times, it will count as multiple impressions on Instagram. We'll discuss why impressions matter below.
So, when should you prioritize impressions as a key performance indicator in your Instagram campaigns?
When you want to increase awareness among your target audience. Many marketers getting started with Instagram focus on reaching the most people possible -- but in reality, it doesn't matter if you reach 10,000 new people if none of those people are interested in what you're selling. In some cases, it's more valuable to your business to focus on cultivating deeper brand awareness among the audience you already have. Instagram Impressions can be a valuable KPI when you want to focus on increasing awareness among your target audience.
Consider your own Instagram scrolling habits: if you see an ad or a post just once, it likely isn't going to have a big impact on you. But, if you start to notice more posts or ads from the same company, your familiarity of their brand is bound to increase. Even if you aren't in the market for what they're selling right now, your awareness of the brand might lead you to make a purchase down the line.
Since impressions on their own don't take unique users into account, it isn't the best stand-alone metric to use when you run an Instagram campaign focused on reaching the most people possible. But, it can be monitored alongside impressions to track how many times users are seeing posts or ads from you.
For a deeper dive on how to set up and start tracking impressions (and other metrics) in Instagram Analytics, check out this article we wrote.