When is the best time to post on Instagram?
It’s a question we hear all the time as a company that helps brands and influencers grow their Instagram accounts.
The question starting popping up a lot more around 2016 when Instagram switched to an algorithm based feed.
Here’s a graph of the search trends for the phrase “best time to post on Instagram” over the past five years. Notice it started to trend upwards in June 2016 when the new algorithm was officially released.
People knew that once the algorithm rolled out, they’d see dips in engagement, similar to what happened on Facebook. So they began looking for ways to get ahead of it by timing their posts for the highest engagement.
Fast forward to 2018, and post timing is starting to become even more important.
While Instagram’s feed is still controlled by an algorithm, earlier this year they did announce they’d be making changes to ensure users are seeing timely and fresh content in their feeds when they first open the app.
What this means is that if you’re able to start timing your posts to publish when your audience is most likely to be on the app, you’ll have a better chance of showing up in their feed.
So, when’s the best time to post on Instagram? The answer isn’t as clear-cut as you might think.
The Best Time to Post on Instagram According to Industry Research
There has been a ton of research done around the best time to post on Instagram. While the data from these studies shouldn’t be the deciding factor for when you post on Instagram, they can give you some guidance or a place to start—especially if you’re new to Instagram.
Best Time to Post on Instagram According to Sprout Social
Sprout Social’s data scientists analyzed what times and days of the week users received the most engagement on Instagram, then averaged the data. They even looked at the data per industry.
Here’s a summary of what their research found
According to Sprout Social, the best time to post on Instagram is Thursdays between 10am-5pm.
Wednesdays and Fridays in the afternoon also appear to be good times to post for the highest engagement.
The Best Time to Post on Instagram According to CoSchedule
CoSchedule also did some research into the best time to post on social media. Their findings are based on data from 23 different studies.
According to CoSchedule, the best times to post on Instagram are Mondays and Thursdays at 2am, 8am-9am or 5pm.
The Best Time to Post on Instagram According to Later
Later did a survey of social media managers, and the majority of respondents said lunchtime between 11am-1pm was the best time to post on Instagram, followed by 7pm-9pm in the evenings.
We gave you insights from three different sources to show you that there is no single best day or time to post.
The best way to find out when to post on Instagram is to test it out for yourself and look at your data.
How to Find the Best Time to Post on Instagram Through Analytics
If you’ve been active on Instagram for a while, you should have a decent amount of data you can use to determine the best time to post on Instagram for your brand.
The first place we suggest looking is Instagram Insights. This is Instagram’s native analytics built into the app for business profiles.
While you’re logged into your account, click on the stats icon on the top menu.
Then click on the “Audience” tab and scroll down to the Followers section.
You’ll be able to switch between two different graphs. One shows the average times your followers on Instagram on a specific day (Hours).
The other shows which days of the week your followers are most active (Day).
Another piece of data in Insights that’s helpful for determining the best time to post on Instagram is location. You can find this under the Audience tab as well.
Knowing where your followers are located allows you to account for different time zones. For instance, if you’re on central time, but most of your followers are pacific time, there’s a two hour time difference. That might impact when you choose to post.
Using this data, you can start to plan your Instagram posts around the days and times your followers are most likely to be on the app.
Another way to use analytics to discover the best time to post on Instagram is to look at your most engaged posts, and see if there’s a trend in when it was published.
You can do this within Instagram Insights as well. Go into the Content tab in Insights. Under the Posts section, select “See All”.
Then, filter by engagement, and select the time period you want to view. We suggest looking at 6 months or a year
Then, tap on any of the top posts. In the post, you should see “View Insights”. Tap that, and Instagram will show you the stats for that individual post, including the exact date and time it was posted.
Go through all your most engaged posts and see when they were posted. If you notice a trend of them all being shared around the same day of the week or time of day, you’ll have a better idea of the best time to post to your Instagram page.
But What if You’re Starting From Scratch?
Some of you might be wondering, “what should I do if I have a new Instagram page or don’t have enough historical data to use analytics?”
The answer is simple—experiment.
As with any experiment, you need to be strategic with how you test though. There are a ton of different variables that play a role in how much engagement or reach a post gets on Instagram aside from the time it’s published.
The content, caption, hashtags, whether or not you tagged anyone and other factors all play a role in how many likes or comments you receive.
So make sure you’re not posting drastically different content, and keep your hashtags somewhat consistent while you’re testing different posting times.
To run your experiment, try posting three times per day, (once in the morning, afternoon and evening) Monday-Friday. You can make a spreadsheet to track everything.
For each post, record the number of likes and comments each post received.
While our spreadsheet has 9am, 2pm and 7pm as the post times, feel free to change the times to whatever you’d like to test out. Just make sure the times are at least a few hours apart so it doesn’t skew your data.
We suggest getting at least four weeks worth of data, so you can potentially spot trends in the best days to post, in addition to the best time of the day.
How Often Should You Post on Instagram?
In addition to when to post on Instagram, you should also think about how often you’re posting as well.
For this, we’ll turn to some research conducted by CoSchedule, where they looked at data from 14 different studies.
As you can see, 1-2 posts per day seems to be the sweet spot. And it tends to be aligned with what we see from most brands and influencers.
There are exceptions to this though. A lot of media sites, for instance, publish a new post every 1-2 hours.
Tailwind found that there’s actually a correlation between the amount you post and the number of likes you receive on Instagram.
Not only that, but posting more also leads to more Instagram followers.
Despite all the data supporting the benefits of posting more, only 5% of Instagram accounts post once per day or more.
This is a huge opportunity to get ahead of your competition. If you notice most people in your industry or niche only post a few times per week, increase your posting frequency to get a larger share of the market.
And in case you’re worried about oversaturating your audience with too much content, you’ll be happy to know that a study of 55 top-performing brands on Instagram found engagement doesn’t drop from posting more often.
The takeaway from all this data is don’t be afraid to post more content on Instagram. The stats show there’s a ton of upside and almost no risk!
Tips for Finding the Right Time to Post on Instagram
In addition to the data and suggestions above, here are some general tips and best practices for when to post on Instagram to maximize reach and engagement.
Post the Most Important Content on Weekdays
While a lot the research and studies about the best time to post on Instagram varies, one thing most of them have in common is they suggest posting on the weekdays.
That makes sense, considering that’s when people are less likely to be out and about. During the week, people spend a bulk of their time at work or school. And during those 8+ hours, they like to take breaks.
One study from the Pew Research Center found that 77% of people use social media at work. And 34% of them do it get a mental break.
Capitalize on workplace boredom by posting the content you want to get the most eyes on during work hours.
Schedule Your Instagram Post
Believe it or not, some brands get the most engagement when it’s 2am in the morning in their timezone. Most people aren’t up at that hour in order to post a photo or video on Instagram.
Even if you plan to post during the day, you might not always remember or possibly not even have your phone on hand.
The best way to get around this and post at the right time is to schedule your posts in advance.
Focus on Your Audience
As we’re sure you’re starting to notice, there is no single best time to post on Instagram. It really comes down to your audience.
In addition to tracking engagement with the spreadsheet we gave earlier, also pay attention to how your audience responds to different posting times.
Do comments on content posted earlier on in the day have a more positive sentiment? Do you get likes quicker when you post in the evening?
All these details give you additional context around the best times to post on Instagram.
Just because an article tells you Thursdays at 5pm is the best time to post on Instagram, doesn’t mean it’s the best time for your audience.
So When is the Best Time to Post on Instagram?
It depends. Test different posting times, dive into your analytics and pay attention to how your audience reacts. That’s the best way to find the optimal posting time for your page.
Need more help getting more engagement and followers on Instagram? Give our service a try to amplify your results on Instagram.