When Facebook acquired Instagram in 2012 for nearly 1 billion cash and stock, several doubters thought it was a terrible mistake by Facebook. Fast forward 8 years later, Instagram has now become the third most popular social media app behind Facebook and YouTube. With such a large user base, it can be difficult to separate yourself from the crowd, but one simple way to get more engagement on Instagram is by optimizing your posting schedule and to know when exactly is the best time to post. And yes it’s all about timing!
So if struggling to find the secret sauce for your posting time or how to find the perfect hashtag? We have broken it all down for you even for different business niches.
What Are The New Changes To Instagram’s Algorithm
Instagram changes its algorithm frequently and the new algorithm change prioritizes “new” content on user feed. So today producing unique, striking content on a consistent basis is more important than ever, that is why you need to optimize and strategize. The algorithm primarily focuses on how much engagement your Instagram post gets and how quickly you get that engagement so timing is everything. I admit that it’s not easy to find the best time to post on Instagram, but with some experimentation it is possible. Each account is unique and will require careful consideration to beat the algorithm change and increase your reach to get more likes and followers.
Why is this so important? If an Instagram post goes out when 98% of your followers are online, you increase your chance of accumulating likes very quickly. If a post gets a lot of likes and comments shortly after being posted, Instagram recognizes the post as quality content and shows your post to even more followers.
So lets go over the rest of the winning formula…
What Are The Best Days To Post On Instagram?
It’s a question that bugs every Instagram curator—when is the best time to post? The answer is complex, but there are numerous experiments that show some days are better to post than others. What we can say for sure is you should be posting frequently, as it will promote engagement from your followers and continue to put yourself in their feed.
The best time to post on Instagram on Sunday
- Morning to Late Afternoon-posting time (10 a.m. to 4 p.m.)
- For most individuals, Sunday is fun-day—it’s a time to rest, socialize with friends and family, or take some time off for good ol’ self-care. Whether it’s posting photos of the latest posh brunch place or your outing with a visiting relative, Sunday tends to see a spike in user engagement, whether it’s posts or comments. Activity usually peaks around noon and tends to ebb off in the evening when people start preparing for the upcoming weekday grind.
The best time to post on Instagram on Monday
- Early Morning, Noon, and Late Night-posting time (6 a.m, 12 p.m, 10 p.m.)
- With Monday comes the start of the workweek and a more broken-up time frame compared to Sunday. Activity spikes within three separate zones, primarily in the early morning when those who particularly commute via public transportation take time to go through social media, lunchtime, and late-night when all one wants to do is just unwind and relax with some cute cat videos.
The best time to post on Instagram on Tuesday?
- Early Morning to Evening-posting time (6 a.m. to 6 p.m.)
- Roughly covering the span of working hours as well as the necessary amount of time needed to commute to as well as from work, the activity on Tuesday is spread more evenly throughout the day. After all, who hasn’t had spent their break scrolling through new updates on their Instagram feed or catching a glimpse while preparing for dinner?
The best time to post on Instagram on Wednesday?
- Early Morning and Late Night-posting time (8 a.m. and 11 p.m.)
- Hump day is more than a struggle to the average working person as the central day cushioned in the middle of the workweek; it can also be a struggle in getting more social media engagement on Instagram. However, don’t be disheartened by this—take advantage of those commuting hours, breaks, as well as late-night unwinding hours to dish out consistent content. It pays to stay consistent, and even though Wednesday is a harder day to receive activity, it doesn’t hurt to benefit from the advantages already present.
The best time to post on Instagram on Thursday?
- Early Morning, Noon, and Evening-posting time (7 a.m, 12 p.m, and 7 p.m.)
- The final push before #TGIF! Thursday has similar patterns to Monday and Tuesday, but as the weekend draws closer, so does the temptation to open up one’s mobile device and take a glance at one’s social media feeds. Though it’s almost the weekend, we would suggest not posting in the late evening or the heart of night—consecutive days in the workweek will probably push your followers to go catch their beauty sleep first before they catch up on other activities or socialize during the weekend.
The best time to post on Instagram on Friday?
- Early Morning, Late Afternoon and Late Evening-posting time (9 a.m, 4 p.m, and 7 p.m.)
- Friday is the day everyone wants to leave early for the weekend—but also check their social media as well. Compared to other workdays, Friday sees a spike in Instagram usage from 4 p.m. to 5 p.m. when everyone who is working standard office hours finally gets off work. Though a younger demographic may be out and about until very late hours, some individuals may also opt to just beeline home and take a much-needed break from a merciless work-week. While Friday evening is a good time to take advantage of social media posting, we suggest dispersing your Instagram posts to keep these two demographics in mind.
The best time to post on Instagram on Saturday?
- Late morning and Night-posting time (11 a.m. and 7 to 8 p.m.)
- Given the temptation to sleep-in is very strong for those who only have Saturday and Sunday morning to catch extra rest, it comes as no surprise that Instagram activity starts in the late morning. As people take time to de-stress at night, whether it’s going out or spending time home, engagement on social media rises as well. Saturday night is also one of the best times to go live as well, as live videos are great as a spontaneous form of entertainment for those staying at home, especially after 9 p.m.
Now that you have a general overview of the best times to post, the next question many Instagram people usually have is: how do I figure that out, especially for my Instagram’s unique audience? Since not all content is given an equal start with what fits best for your audience and the goals you have for your Insta-presence as well as the reach of your Instagram’s posts.
One of the most common ways to figure this out, particularly for those who have an Instagram business profile, is to simply check your Instagram Insights. If you don’t have access to your Instagram Insights or a business profile, know that all it takes is the creation of a business Facebook page as well as linking that page and your business’s Instagram account to get an Instagram business profile. This service is completely free and gives you access to powerful data analysis tools.
Instagram Insight essentially gives you the impression analytics for every post made, including demographic breakdowns and most importantly, the time of day that your posts see the most activity. By using Instagram Insights, you can easily pinpoint which hours on which days of the week attract the most engagement as well as which hours you should avoid. However, like with all analytic tools studying the flow of user traffic, whether it’s for a website or Instagram, it does take time as well as consistent traffic to have visible trends. When using Instagram Insights, we recommend giving your growing business/brand an ample amount of time to see these trends regarding hours of engagement.
1) Post for your most active time zone(s):
Sure, you may live in New York, but if most of your followers are in Los Angeles, you should be posting with the PDT time zone in mind. If you have followers in two very different time zones (such as New York and London), posting at “odd” times in your time zone may be helpful for account growth.
Unsure of what time zone your followers are in? Instagram Insights has you covered – and it’s free! After making sure your account is a business profile, click the bar graph in the upper right-hand corner and discover the amazing data in analytics! You’ll learn where your followers are located (you can filter this by city or country), their gender, their age, and, of course, the most popular days and times they are using Instagram.
2) Post more during off-work hours:
Your audience is busy! Think about the times of day you check personal accounts on social media – during your spare time. Prioritize scheduling during lunchtime (11 am-1 pm) and evenings (7-9 pm). You don’t want users to miss out on your stellar content simply because they’re too busy.
3) Save the important stuff for Monday through Friday:
Though just slightly, the average engagement does shift depending on the day. Per Later’s research, Wednesdays and Thursdays drive the most engagement, while Sundays drive the least.
4) Experiment and measure:
If you’re the kind of person who prefers to pull numbers yourself, Later has a task you’ll enjoy! Create a spreadsheet and track the amount of engagement each post receives at respective times. Here’s the best way to organize it:
- Pick five different times throughout the week that falls within the time your followers are most active. For example, if your followers are most active between 12 and 4 pm EST, schedule your posts to appear at 12, 1, 2, 3 and 4 pm.
- In a spreadsheet, track how many likes and comments each post receives, along with the day and time each was posted.
- The following week, switch up the timing of your posts! If you posted on Monday at 2 pm during week 1, post at 3 pm during week 2.
- Continue this cycle for a few weeks and identify the times and days that your audience responds to best.
5) Consider you business niche:
Did you know that different sets of audiences tend to engage with posts at different times? Sprout Social advises adjusting your posting schedule according to your brand’s purpose.
Nonprofits: Nonprofits are turning to Instagram to help their audience visually engage with their brand.
- The best time to post for nonprofits is Friday at 2 pm.
- Other notable times include Tuesday at 3 and 9 pm, Wednesday from 3 to 4 pm, Thursday from 2 to 3 pm and Friday from 10 am.
- Saturday has the least amount of engagement for nonprofits.
- The safest times to post are weekdays from noon to 5 pm.
Education: It makes sense! School systems need to be where their students spend their time, and that’s online.
- The best time to post for education is Monday at 8 pm.
- Monday also has the most engagements overall for the week (consider the weekly updates for students!).
- Sunday has the least engagement for education on Instagram.
- The safest times to post are weekdays from 11 am to 4 pm.
Consumer goods: Instagram Shopping has provided consumer goods brands with an easier way to sell on the app.
- The best time to post is Saturday at 11 am and 1 pm.
- Wednesdays tend to see the most consistent engagement overall throughout the week. The safest times to post are every day from 10 am to 3 pm.
- Monday is the least engaged day for consumer goods.
6) Post when everyone else isn’t:
5 pm seems to be a great time to post for optimal engagement. Why? Matt Smith, the founder of Latergramme, has a theory:
“We think this is because fewer people are posting at that time and that more engaged users are using Instagram at that time”.
This, of course, makes perfect sense. At 5 pm, people are just ending their workday and procrastinating those final minutes. However, try avoiding Monday at 5 pm. It’s a pretty crummy time to post – perhaps because employees are getting out of work later due to the post-weekend rush?
7) Stick to it for 30 days:
Jumping from one strategy to the next will only hurt you. Stick to a daily posting schedule for 30 days to ensure the most accurate results possible. Daunted by the idea of posting 30 days in a row? Check out Plann’s 33 Amazing Instagram Content Ideas Guide!
How to Schedule for Your Best Time to Post?
Congratulations, now you’ve identified when your audience is most active! The next step is to schedule your posts at the ideal times you’ve identified. A great way to ensure you are consistently posting when your audience is most active is by using scheduling tools. With hundreds of different versions circulating the Internet, it can be difficult to choose. Here are a few strong contenders that will ensure you are posting at the most optimal time possible:
Tools to Find The Best Time To Post On Instagram
Now we have given you everything you need to know on the best time to post on Instagram and covered the average best times to post (listed above) are a great starting point, but in 2020 and forward to get the edge you might want to use a few tools: To help you nail down your personal best times to post for your audience, here are a few tools we recommend. While Instagram Insight provides a great deal of useful information for you to tailor your Insta-presence and the pace of content production, the following tools will help you streamline the process of managing your Instagram account and posts:
While users of Later can use it for other social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter, Later provides a whole bevy of benefits for all Instagram users. With their auto-posting function, their post-scheduling function, and their Link.in function that directly connects the photos of your posts to links such as your business’s online store, Later can be an invaluable tool that can keep up your posts even when you are away from your phone. Later also provides an option for users to see what their future feed may look like with posts scheduled for publishing.
ViralPost truly is a social media genius. It regularly analyzes your audience data and detects the most active times for authentic engagement and rates different posting options with a star system. Five stars at 1:23 pm? Go on and publish. One star at 6 am? It might be best to hold off.
Hootsuite is marketed more like a personal assistant than as an Instagram management companion—on top of being able to schedule and auto-publish posts, you can also take a peek at your competition as well as explore relevant hashtags to add to your posts for an extra boost. We recommend Hootsuite as a streamlined app that allows you to have healthy levels of engagement with your audience.
Buffer also allows for post-scheduling but its main appeal point is its facilitation for teamwork: you can add up to 25 team members to this platform and even give varying levels of access to different features within the application. Perfect for the mid-size marketing team, Buffer combines both the essentials of managing Instagram content and the facilitation of teamwork.
Quick Schedule allows you to create your queue based on your best times to post. Simply select your posting times once, and each time you queue up Instagram posts they will automatically be scheduled for your best times to post.
Now that is convenient! Later’s Quick Schedule Tool also includes automatic posting. Yep, simply schedule it and Later will take care of the rest. This is particularly helpful if your followers are in a different time zone than you.
So, what is left? Just one question remains: How often do I post?
It’s recommended for businesses to post between 1 and 2 posts per day. Does that seem like a lot? Remember to factor in curation as well. The most effective feeds are composed of 50% original content and 50% curated content (quotes, stats, facts and even images from other users). Just be sure to always give credit in the copy! Posting frequency should always be consistent with your goals. Adobe says some brands succeed with as many as 10 photos per day (when sharing photos from an event, for example).
Regardless if you’re posting 1 time per day or 12, always focus on consistency. Try your best to maintain the same cadence each day.