Engagement vs. Reach vs. Impressions: What Does It All Mean?

reach vs. impressions

User interaction with your social platforms has become a necessity in getting recurring content in front of your target audience. In a perfect world, every follower would see every piece of content you put out. However, with the social media algorithms, it’s not that simple.

Algorithms are the social platform’s way of sorting posts in a user’s feed based on relevancy. Essentially, these social networks do the “post prioritizing” for you, determining which content you see based on the likelihood you’ll actually want to see it. All this is determined by your content’s activity, such as likes, views, comments, and shares.

These analytics are available on your social media pages, and it’s important to understand what these key metrics mean in order to better improve the success of your content. While there are many different metrics used, we’re going to cut through all the jargon and explain the differences between the top three analytics: engagement, reach, and impressions.

It should be noted, that for this article we are analyzing how engagement, reach, and impressions are measured on Facebook and Instagram.


Let’s first break these down in the most simple terms.

Engagement: The number of interactions your content receives by users. This is measured by activity such as likes, comments, shares, saves, etc.

Reach: How many unique users see your content.

Impressions: How many times your content shows up to a user, regardless if they reacted to it or not.

Often times these three metrics are used interchangeably, however they are all very different.
Understanding these differences will help you improve your strategy and reach your social media goals. Let’s break it down.


Of these 3 metrics, engagement is the only one that determines a user’s action. Engagement is measured by activity such as liking, commenting, sharing, or clicking on a link, and is arguably one of the most important metrics to pay attention to when measuring the success of your social media.

The user’s action plays a huge role in determining who is going to see your future posts, which is why engaging content is so important to your overall goal. Having one simply scroll across your content is one thing, but being moved to take action is another. When your post motivates the user to want to respond, that speaks volumes on the quality of content you are putting out. You’re much more likely to convert users that engage with your content into leads or sales.


These two metrics often get grouped together, however, they are very different in how they’re measured. It’s also important to pay attention to these metrics when better determining your overall engagement.


The best way to think of reach is the number of unique people that actually see your content. First, a piece of content has to be delivered to a person’s feed (impression). Then, the unique user has to interact with that social platform to actually see the piece of content in their feed (reach).

If you open up your Facebook or Instagram insights, you’ll notice the platforms subdivide reach into 3 categories: Organic, paid, and viral. Here’s a breakdown of what they mean:

Organic: This insight provides the number of unique users who have seen your content for free. This means you did not pay to get that piece of content in front of them.

Paid: This describes the number of users that have seen your content because you paid to get it in front of them. You’ve created a paid ad using Facebook’s demographic targeting features to get that piece of content in front of those users.

Viral: This doesn’t mean that your content has “gone viral.” This metric describes the content that you are seeing because someone you are connected with has liked, commented, or shared that content. Because you are mutual friends, this post will appear on your feed.


Impressions mean the number of times a piece of content was delivered to someone’s feed. This does not mean the user even views the content – it just means that it showed up on their screen. Each time that content is displayed in front of a user it counts as an impression. For example, if the content is placed on their page and then the same piece of content is shown when someone shares it, that would count as 2 impressions.

A viewed impression is not how many times people viewed the ad, but rather, how many times users had the chance to view it. As long as it appeared on the user’s screen, whether they looked at it or scrolled past, it counts as an impression.

Video impressions work slightly differently, but with the same concept. A video is not required to start playing in order to be counted as an impression. Alternatively, a video is considered “viewed” when someone sees the first 3 seconds of the video, no matter the duration.


When measuring the success of your social media strategy, the end game is conversions, which means high engagement. However, increasing your reach and impressions are key to encouraging people to want to take action. In other words, it’s important to understand that you help drive a user’s engagement by improving your reach and impressions. You can’t have engagement without driving the other two.

Understanding your target audience, tracking your metrics, and improving your content, are all important factors to achieving the best results with social media.

If you’re looking for more information on how to improve your social media campaign or other ways to optimize your business, contact us directly at https://fusiononemarketing.com/contact-us/