All Collections
I need help with my social media
What's the difference between reach, impressions and engagement?
What's the difference between reach, impressions and engagement?

Sometimes the jargon can make no sense - let us break it down!

Nikki Plummer avatar
Written by Nikki Plummer
Updated over a week ago

You might be totally need to social media marketing or you might be a dab hand - either way, there is a lot of jargon out there and in a constantly shifting landscape it can be hard to keep up.

It's worth remembering that social media is a loose collection to networks and tools, so finding a commonly agreed definition for anything can be tricky. What Facebook calls one thing, Twitter might call something else (albeit slightly differently) 

This article will translate three very important metrics into plain English so you can understand how you they apply to your marketing efforts.


On a basic level "reach" is the combined number of people who saw your content on their feeds. This definition varies slightly depending on platform (and device) that the user is using - and always bear in mind how quickly your users might be scrolling. It's often not the most accurate metric for success. 


Impressions are simply the number of times your message was displayed - sometimes this is more useful for advertising content (i.e. paid adverts on a specific channel). Technically, your message is only displayed when someone in your audience meets the criteria they need to meet - e.g. they're following you, or a hashtag you've used, and therefore see the message in their feeds. Impressions are a great metric to see how effective a certain hashtag is. Sometimes using more generic hashtags can drive your impressions up - and therefore your reach. 


Engagement is without a doubt the most important metrics for beyond profits trying to spread their message. Regardless of the type of message you're sending out - fundraising, campaigning and everything in between - the success metric is how many people engage with that content.

Different platforms will have nuances in their definition of engagement:

Twitter: clicks on links, retweets, likes and @replies
Facebook: reactions (not just likes), comments and more importantly, shares
LinkedIn: reactions, comments and shares
Instagram: likes and comments

It's important to use a tool like Lightful Analytics when you're reviewing your reach, impressions and engagement. Don't be afraid to focus on content that is engaging first and has a secondary function - engaging content varies across different platforms but get in touch if you want some top tips!

Did this answer your question?