What are impressions on Instagram? A guide to understanding the metric, including how to track and improve it
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  • Post published:09/04/2021
  • Post last modified:09/04/2021
  • On Instagram, “impressions” are when any of your content is shown to a user.
  • Impressions don’t track when someone interacts with your posts, or whether they’re a new viewer.
  • You can use an Instagram Business Account or third-party apps like Hootsuite to get more detailed analytics.
  • Visit Insider’s Tech Reference library for more stories.

Social media feels simple when you’re scrolling through posts, but anyone who’s spent time on the backend knows it’s anything but.

Business owners and social media professionals have a ton of data at their disposal, and to the uninitiated, it can be like trying to read a new language.

To help break things down, here’s what you need to know about impressions on Instagram, as well as how it differs from reach and engagement.

What are impressions on Instagram and how are they calculated?

Impressions track the number of times your content (including stories and posts) is shown to users on the platform. In other words, if someone is scrolling their feed and passes by your post, that’s an impression.

This doesn’t track unique viewers, just viewers. So if the same person scrolls past your post twice, that’s two impressions — but only one “reach,” which tracks uniques.

Impressions are meant to track awareness, and in theory the more impressions you build over time, the more familiar a unique user will be with your brand. Familiarity will then hopefully lead to that user purchasing your product, or just looking at more of your content. 

Instagram notes that some metrics are estimated.
William Antonelli/Insider

How impressions on Instagram differ from reach, engagement, and engagement rate

  • Reach refers to the number of unique users who saw your content.
  • Engagement, on the other hand, refers to any time someone (including you) interacts with your content. This includes actions like:
    • Commenting
    • Sharing or saving
    • Liking
    • Following
    • Mentioning your account (with or without tagging you)
    • Using branded hashtags
    • Clicking through a story or link
    • Directly messaging you
  • Your engagement rate measures how many people saw your content vs. how many interacted with it. So for example, if ten people see your post, but only five people like it, you have an engagement rate of 50 percent (or 0.5).

    You can calculate your engagement rate by dividing your total engagement (on a single post or across your entire account) by your amount of followers, reach, or impressions. How exactly you calculate it will vary depending on your individual social media goals.  

Here, an account’s reach is shown in a bar chart within the Instagram analytics tool.
Devon Delfino/Insider

How do you track reach, impressions, and engagement?

You can gain access to your account analytics if you have an Instagram Business Account, which you can also link to your Facebook business page if you have one.

Once set up, go to the “Insights” section of your profile to view the your profile analytics. Here you’ll see information and data that can help you improve your content strategy and assess what’s working and what’s not.  

Click on “Insights” to view your business account’s analytics.
Devon Delfino/Insider

Aside from Instagram’s native analytics tool, you can download a third-party app like Hootsuite or Sprout to view more detailed data beyond what Instagram’s built-in analytics can provide.

These integrated programs can also serve as scheduling apps that assist with publishing and monitoring comments and hashtags. However, you might have to pay to use these apps, especially when it comes to their more advanced features.

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