Lots of LinkedIn observers have said that post impressions on the platform are going down.
Here’s my analysis of what that means for small business owners and solopreneurs trying to build a personal brand on LinkedIn.
- What are post impressions?
- Are impressions down?
- Do impression counts matter?
- An important point about impression counts
- Let’s wrap up
What are post impressions?
Before we discuss the implications of post impressions being down, we have to understand what we mean by impressions.
An impression is an instance of when a LinkedIn post was loaded and shown on the screen so that it could have been read by a member.
It doesn’t mean a post was read – only that it could have been read.
The full definition of an impression is in my LinkedIn dictionary.
Are impressions down?
Most observers would say yes, post impressions are down in 2023 compared with stats from 2020 to 2022.
This stands to reason. Think about it:
- More people are joining LinkedIn all the time. About 25 million members join each quarter. You can see the growth since 2019 in my LinkedIn membership tracker.
- The people who join LinkedIn now are often coming over from platforms where they may already have been creating content. So, the likelihood that a new member will create content on LinkedIn is higher than ever before.
This combination of more users and a greater chance of new users being content creators means that it’s no surprise if there’s a smaller slice of the pie for everyone already creating content on LinkedIn.
Despite this increase in competition for attention, only 5.2% of LinkedIn members are creating content regularly (source: LinkedIn algorithm report, November 2022).
Whether you’re an experienced operator on LinkedIn or a complete newbie, simply by creating content regularly, you’ll be putting yourself ahead of 95% of users.
My own data over the past couple of years shows a drop in average impressions but a less severe drop in average reactions and comments.
The numbers alone might not look convincing, but if you look at the downward slope of each graph below, you can see that average impressions are dropping at a steeper rate than reactions or comments.
Do impression counts matter?
Impression counts are a measure of how many times a piece of content has been loaded and could have been viewed.
But that’s far from the whole story. Consider this:
- Did anyone consume the content?
- Did anyone engage with the content?
- Did anyone remember the content?
- Did anyone take action on the content?
The impression count doesn’t answer these questions, making the raw number less meaningful than you might think.
It’s far more important to consider other metrics if you’re going to measure the real impact of your content:
- How many people reacted positively to the content?
- How many comments (public conversations) did the content generate?
- How many direct messages (private conversations) did the content generate?
- How many referrals or direct leads did the content generate?
(Don’t get too hung up on the final point. Content marketing and social selling is more about building long-term trust than it is about seeing each piece of content as a business transaction. Results come from playing the long game, as I set out in Content DNA.)
An important point about impression counts.
Although impression counts are down from where they were between 2020 and 2022, there’s one big reason why I don’t think there’s cause for concern.
The drop in LinkedIn impression counts does not seem to be matched by a proportional drop in several other metrics:
- Profile views
- Post reactions
- Post comments
- Post reshares & reposts
- Direct messages
A genuine decrease in content visibility would mean that impression counts would be down AND would be accompanied by a proportional drop in all the other metrics listed above.
The stats above show that, for me, numbers are down across the board – but they’ve dropped at different rates.
I’ve often said that comments and direct messages in particular are the most important ways of engaging with others on LinkedIn, and that they open doors to new business opportunities.
If those numbers remain buoyant, or at least don’t go down as much as impressions have, isn’t that what really matters?
If you’re still seeing good numbers of public and private conversations per day, that’s what’s going to drive your business forward. The impression count itself isn’t going to pay any bills.
Let’s wrap up.
Impression counts may be down but these figures matter less than other metrics.
Worry less about your LinkedIn impression counts and put more time and effort into generating public and private conversations through your content and approach to DMs.