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Wondering when’s the best time to post on Instagram?
It’s the million dollar question, and the answer isn’t as straightforward as you might think.
Here, we’ll take a closer look at how to perfectly time your Instagram posts whether you’re B2B or B2C.
Times have changed since Instagram was a reverse-chronological feed. No longer does the platform show the freshest posts first. It also considers interest, frequency, relationships, and how many accounts you follow.
In this article, you’ll learn:
- Why timing matters
- How the Instagram algorithm affects timing (and ways you can beat it)
- The best times to post on Instagram by industry
- How to determine the best time to post for your brand using analytics
- If timing is different for Stories and Live videos
Why Timing Still Matters
While timing isn’t everything, brands can’t just post whenever they feel like it. Recency is a ranking factor, after all.
Brands should aim to post when their followers are online. To grow a following, brands need to create content their audience wants to see. But, if you take timing out of the equation, followers might have a hard time finding that killer content you worked so hard on.
According to Pew Research, half of all Instagram users scroll through the app every day. Still, engagement rates vary based on when and what you post.
Users tend to check the app when they have a moment to spare. According to research from Sprout Social, these are the best times to post on Instagram.
All times listed below are in CDT time:
- 5:00 AM, Tuesday to Friday, is one of the busiest times on Instagram. People likely are waking up for the day and scrolling through their phones before they get up.
- 11:00 AM – 3:00 PM on weekdays is also an excellent time to post, as you’re catching people during their lunch breaks or as they start to run out of steam in the afternoon.
- 11:00 AM on Saturday is the best time to post on the weekend, as you’re catching the brunch crowd.
The best way to find your brand’s posting sweet spot is to play around with timing and measure your findings. Schedule posts at different times so you can be a part of your followers’ lunch breaks and morning routines whether they’re on the East Coast, West Coast, or in another country.
Of course, that gets a bit tricky if you’re operating on a global scale and therefore, have to consider the optimal time zone for multiple locations.
Ultimately, answering the “when is the best time to post on social media” question depends on more than considering the traditional 9-5 work week. It also depends on the industry and what kind of content you post.
On that note, let’s take a look at how the Instagram algorithm, in its current iteration, impacts timing.
How the Instagram Algorithm Affects Timing
During Instagram’s first six years, content was presented in reverse chronological order regardless of quality or relationship. So for brands, timing literally was everything.
But in 2016, Instagram announced that they were going to switch things up by prioritizing the “moments you care about” over the most recent posts in your feed. While the goal was creating a high-quality feed, the change didn’t go over so well with users.
Automatic refreshes made users lose their place, brands felt that their content wasn’t reaching customers, and a Change.org campaign entitled, Keep Instagram Chronological made the rounds on the web.
In 2018, the platform updated the algorithm again, this time building “recency” back into its signal lineup. Since Instagram has made new content a priority, brands do need to consider when their audience is most active to get the most mileage from their posts.
While Instagram stated they’d never go back to an entirely chronological feed, the most current iteration is something of a compromise. Feeds are personalized based on a handful of factors such as how users interact with the content, as well as timeliness, interest, and engagement.
Here’s a little about what those other ranking factors mean for your brand and how it affects when the post time to post on Instagram is for you.
You’ve Got to Be Interesting
Posting during peak hours means nothing if your content lacks personality.
Instagram’s machine-learning algorithm aims to deliver the content you care about based on how you’ve interacted with similar content in the past.
Brands can take advantage of this by focusing on engagement and being authentic. What this means is, identifying hashtags that will help you get seen, along with high-quality visuals, and well-crafted captions. In other words, your goal is to push out posts people actually want to click on.
The relationship element of the algorithm tries to determine the depth of a relationship between an account and its followers. This is where the “meaningful” content part comes in.
Instagram’s initial shift toward a more relevant feed sought to emphasize deeper connections, not engagement baiting or promotional spamming.
Use Instagram Insights to learn more about your follower personas and use that data to determine what kind of content to post.
Additionally, you can also increase engagement by commenting on followers’ accounts and responding to comments while they’re still fresh.
Let Followers Know How to Turn on Notifications
Instagram offers a feature that allows you to turn on notifications if one of your favorite accounts posts something new.
Remind followers that they can turn on notifications “so they don’t miss anything” by tapping the three dots icon on your page and selecting “turn on post notifications.”
While you don’t want to badger your followers into receiving notifications, a friendly reminder every now and then may lead to more engagement.
Run Paid Promotions
If your goal is to grow an audience, Sponsored Posts are a great way to put your content in front of a new crowd. Timing doesn’t come into play here, as Instagram handles the scheduling process for paid ads.
As with organic content, brands need to make sure they’re targeting the right demographic and paid ads feature compelling captions and eye-catching photos.
It’s no secret that Instagram posts featuring relevant hashtags receive higher engagement than those without. Use a mix of branded and community hashtags to increase your reach by helping you show up in related search results.
The Best Times to Post on Instagram By Business Type
When determining when’s the best time to post on Instagram, optimal posting time varies by industry.
B2B brands benefit from scheduling posts around the workday. B2C brands do better during typical break times or on the weekends.
According to the SproutSocial data we mentioned above, different industries have different peak posting hours. For example, they found that technology brands do well on Monday and Tuesday afternoons around noon.
HootSuite gathered data from their users, too, organizing their findings into helpful categories. They found that professional services companies do better on weekdays around 10 AM, particularly on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday. Non-profits saw the best results on Tuesdays at 10 AM and later at 4 PM, while educational institutions got better results around 4 or 5 PM Wednesday through Friday.
Based on this information, brands should preschedule posts—particularly those related to important campaigns—so that something goes out at your “optimal times.”
How to Determine the Best Time to Post for Your Brand
The Sprout and HootSuite reports are an excellent place to start if you’re looking to sort of “benchmark” of the best time to post on Instagram to get the most views.
But between HootSuite and Sprout, CoSchedule and Later.com, every social marketing platform has revealed slightly different insights. This doesn’t necessarily mean anything is wrong; it just means that there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to timing.
So to get the most accurate read on when is best to post on Instagram for your brand specifically, you’ll need to get up close and personal with your analytics.
Digging into the analytics will give you a better idea of what works for your audience. We recommend heading over to Instagram’s Insights to learn more about the best times for your audience.
Keep in mind, these Insights are only available for Business accounts.
To access them, go to Insights and hit the Audience option. From there, scroll down the page, and you’ll see the days and times that your followers are most likely to be online.
These reports reveal that maybe if you work in personal care, your audience preferences might overlap with brands like MAC or Kylie Cosmetics. But, you’ll want to check your Instagram analytics to see if that’s actually the case.
After you’ve used Instagram Insights to find the approximate times your followers are online, try playing around with specific times to see if there’s an optimal hour for engagements.
For example, if your insights say that your followers are most active from 3-8 PM, try posting at 4, 5, and 8 PM and compare the results.
Identify Your Top Time Zones
Schedule your posts according to follower time zones, not what’s convenient for you. If most of your followers are on the East Coast, and you’re based in California, schedule posts based on EST peak hours, not yours.
And Get the Demographic Breakdown
Again, it’s in your best interest to learn more about your audience.
This information (found in your Insights account) will highlight interests, age, and location breakdowns, as well as the days and times that perform best.
Plan Around the Workday
Unless your channel is all about shopping, you’ll want to avoid posting critical updates on the weekend. Stick to the mid-week for maximum engagement, but pay attention to how slight changes impact engagement.
The more you post, the more data you’ll have at your fingertips. Over time, you’ll start to get a sense of which types of content work best and if there’s a difference between posting a video on Monday night versus Saturday afternoon.
Is Timing Different for Stories and Videos?
When asking yourself ‘when’s the best time to post on Instagram,’ you need to take all formats into account.
One of the big myths surrounding Instagram posting times is that Stories get priority over static photo posts. According to Recode, the platform might prioritize Stories if it believes that your audience prefers Stories. However, the feed doesn’t inherently promote one type of content over another.
Still, you may want to experiment with this yourself to see how different types of content perform with your target audience. Keep in mind that users might not want to listen to videos during the work day, so you may want to add captions or save the Live content for later in the day.
This is another instance where your best bet is to analyze what content resonates most with your audience. They might not respond to static photos as much as Live video. If that’s the case, then adjust your strategy to give the people what they want.
So, what’s the best time to post on Instagram?
Finding the best time to post on Instagram is one step toward growing your audience, but it’s not the only thing to consider.
Instagram marketing success depends on a lot of trial and error, as well as understanding your followers. The algorithm is designed to give users a feed that works for them. Focusing on timing alone won’t give you the best possible outcome. It’s all about the full package: interesting, empathetic, and timely content.