Building an Instagram strategy? You are probably wondering “How often should I post?” You might also wonder if there is such a thing as posting too much.
The question is simple, but the answer is complex and depends on your specific audience.
This post will cover best practices as well as how to determine the best time to post for your specific brand.
But first: Why should you bother with Instagram to begin with?
Instagram Has Over 95M Posts and 400M Stories Per Day
Instagram isn’t a new platform, but it has been increasing in popularity recently. Currently, the platform boasts 1 billion active monthly users, who post over 95 million posts and 400 million stories every day.
And, according to research by Pew Research Group, Instagram is the third most popular social media platform in the US.
It is clear that Instagram is a great place for brands, but how can you make sure you get the most out of the platform as a brand?
Two of the most common questions we see are:
Can You Hurt Yourself By Posting at The Wrong Time? YES!
- Posting on the wrong day might mean your followers never see your post at all.
- Posting at the wrong time might reduce engagement as fewer followers see your posts.
- Posting too late in the day means you post is buried by the time your followers check Instagram.
Is There a Proper Strategy For When to Post on Instagram? YES
The right time to post on Instagram will depend upon:
- The age of your audience
- The type of work they tend to do (meaning do most work standard office jobs or, say, overnight shifts)
- The timezone they are in
- The gender split of your audience
We will dig into how to build a personalized Instagram strategy a bit later. First, let’s consider why timing matters so much for Instagram.
Knowing When To Post is Crucial For Success
Unlike Facebook, where posts can linger and might show up days or weeks later, the Instagram algorithm values timely posts. This means the shelf life of your posts is short and knowing when to post on Instagram is critical for success.
Best Days to Post on Instagram
So, when is the best day to post on Instagram to get eyeballs on your content? The answer might surprise you.
Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday
In general, the best days are Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday. That is when the most people are active on Instagram. During the weekend, it seems like most people are focused on spending time with family, carting kids to soccer games, and so forth. Monday and Tuesday they are getting into the swing of the work week.
By Wednesday, the week is getting long. People are looking for ways to disconnect and unwind, and they often turn to social media. Which may be why the latter half of the week is the most popular time for skimming Instagram.
The Best Times to Post on Instagram
We’ve looked at the best days to post, but what about the best times on those days? Based on research and engagement rates, the best times to post on Instagram (on average, at least) are:
- Wednesday at 3:00 PM
- Thursday at 5:00 AM, 11:00 AM, 3:00 PM, and 4:00 PM
- Friday at 5:00 AM
Does the 5 AM time slot surprise you? A recent study showed that 80% of smartphone users check their phones before they even get out of bed in the morning. That 5 AM time slot is the perfect chance to grab your follower’s attention before they even get out of bed.
Are Those The Only Times I Should Post on Instagram?
Not at all. With 1 billion active users there is no one golden time to post.
The best time to post is when your users are active and online. However, on average, the times listed above will give you your best shot.
Other Great Times to Post on Instagram
The best way to find the right time to post on Instagram for your brand is to start with the most popular times and track your results. From there, you can see what times work and try new slots to see how they perform.
Here are a few other great times to try posting on Instagram:
- Monday 8 AM – 9 AM
- Sunday: 5:00 PM
- Monday: 7:00 PM & 10:00 PM
- Tuesday: 3:00 AM & 10:00 PM
- Wednesday: 5:00 PM
- Thursday: 7:00 AM & 11:00 PM
- Friday: 1:00 AM & 8:00 PM
- Saturday: 12:00 AM & 2:00 AM
Important Things to Remember When Posting on Instagram
Now that we’ve covered the most common times to post to Instagram, let’s look at how to determine the best time to post for your specific account. Consider the following factors.
Timezone(s) of Your Most Active Followers
In order to use the list of the most popular times above, you need to know what timezone your audience is in. You might find out they aren’t in the same timezone as you, which means you need to make some adjustments!
Here is how to view where your followers are located:
Instagram Profile>Hamburger Icon in Right Corner> Insights>Audience
Here you will see information about the location, age, gender, and when they are online. Use this information to begin building your Instagram posting schedule.
Users Engage More When They Are Off Work
It is no surprise that users engage with social media more when they are off the clock. However, do you know when your audience is actually working?
Keep in mind that not all your audience may work a standard job. For example, if you run an Instagram account for trendy clothing for women in their early 20s, they may be at work by 6 PM, while an office worker is just getting off.
Also, don’t forget about lunch time! Many workers visit social media sites on their lunch break, so plan for that crucial 11 AM to 1 PM time frame.
Experiment Different Posting Times and Measure Your Success
The list of the best times to post above should serve as a starting point to building a customized posting schedule. Start with those times, but make sure you track engagement in Instagram insights to figure out what works best for you. Best practices are just that–they are what works best on average. Don’t be afraid to experiment.
Here is how test to find the best time to post to Instagram:
- Select the number of weekly posts you can commit to. The number may vary based on your bandwidth to create content, but aim for between 10-15. This should give you enough data to work with.
- Create a simple spreadsheet with columns for the date, time of post, type of content, caption, and hashtags. Next, create columns for likes and comments.
- Record the number of likes and comments 24 hours after every post. If your content has a longer shelf life, you might record stats at both 24 and 36 hours.
- Continue to post for two weeks and rotate through 6 different time slots. Make sure each time slot gets a few posts, so you can control for variables like holidays and the differences in content.
- After two weeks, look at the five posts that got the most engagement. What do they have in common? Were they posted at the same time? Did you use similar hashtags? Did you use a specific filter?
Repeat this test using the high-engagement time slots and add a few new time slots. Keep testing until you feel confident you are consistently choosing the best time slots.
Posting Daily or Creating a Posting Schedule
Now that you understand when the best time to post is, it is time to create your posting schedule. Should you post manually each day or schedule your posts out?
The best way to keep engagement high is to schedule out posts a week or two at a time, but then leave room for the spontaneous posts Instagram is known for.
Instagram Posts Per Day
The real answer? It depends upon your brand.
If you host events, you may get fantastic engagement posting five pictures a day. Another brand may do well posting long, involved content twice a week. The right answer will depend on what your audience wants.
In general, aim for one to two posts per day until the stats show you should post more frequently.
There is a tipping point where you can post too much. If your engagement drops or you notice you are losing followers, it might be time to try posting less frequently.
Use The 80/20 Rule For Major Success
If you want to be successful on Instagram, the 80/20 Rule should always be a big part of your social media strategy.
What is The 80/20 Rule?
The 80/20 rule is a simple rule of thumb for posting to social media. It comes down to this: For the best engagement, just 20% of your content should promote your brand. Dedicate to other 80% to content that really interests your audience and engages them in conversations.
Sound counter intuitive? It isn’t!
People don’t want to just be sold to on social media. They want to see interesting, helpful, or funny posts. If most of your content is interesting to your followers, they are more likely to engage with that content, which helps you build a solid relationship with them.
It also makes it more likely that they will see the sales posts you do post–and more likely to trust your recommendations.
Applying The 80/20 Rule To Your Instagram Posting Strategy
How does this apply to your Instagram account? Ideally, you want to apply the 80/20 every week. So, if you post 10 posts per week, 8 should be conversations starters or inspirational content. The remaining two might be posts to drive traffic to your blog or shoppable posts about one of your products.
There may be some weeks, say when you have a sale, when your ratio per week is a bit off. That’s okay, just make sure you keep your content mostly conversational most of the time.
And, make sure to track how your posts perform so you can see what works for your brand.
There Are 2 Types of Content: Organic and Promotional
If you are only posting about your brand, you are missing the point and purpose of social media. Instead, you should be posting a mix of organic and promotional content.
Organic content is content not directly about your brand or any commercial activity. It might include industry news, inspirational posts, conversational starters, or links to interesting content not on your site.
Promotional content is content that seeks to sell in some way. It might not be an ad, but it could include a link to a review of your product, a shoppable post on Instagram, a video demo of a new product, or a story about a product you sell.
How to Balance Organic and Promotional Content
To keep your customers engaged, you need to balance the amount of promotional and organic content you post. People do not follow you to get bombarded with ads every day, they follow you to be entertained, amused, intrigued.
Your posting schedule should include mostly organic content, with just a few promotional posts mixed in.
Deciding when to post to Instagram depends upon a variety of factors, including who your audience is, where they live, and when they work. Make sure you test to find out what times drive the most engagement.
And, above all, make sure you are posting both promotional and conversational content. Remember, social media is about being social. Your goal as a brand should always be to create relationships and start conversations.
Choosing the right time to post is just part of driving engagement on Instagram. Learn how Social Upgrade can help you organically grow your followers.
What are some of your favorite posting strategies?