When is the best time to post on Instagram? In a recent poll by Later, over 50% of social media managers said that evenings from 7-9pm was the best time to post on Instagram. But because every account has a different audience, in different time zones, each business will have a unique best time to post on Instagram.
In this post, we’ll show you how to find the best time to post on Instagram for your account, so you can beat the Instagram algorithm by scheduling Instagram posts for when your posts will drive the most engagement.
When to Post on Instagram: How the Algorithm Changed the Game
Earlier last year, Instagram announced that they would be replacing the chronological feed with an algorithm that gives priority to posts with higher engagement, which means the more likes and comments your post receives, the more people will see your post!
If you’re able to generate a lot of engagement on your Instagram posts shortly after posting, this signals to Instagram that your post is quality, engaging content and your post will move to the top of your followers feeds and be shown to more users. There are a handful of ways to increase Instagram engagement, but one of the best ways is to post when your Instagram audience is most active.
Think of it this way: If you post when your audience is most active on Instagram, you’re more likely to drive engagement on that post. That engagement will translate into Instagram bumping your post higher up on users’ feeds and getting on the Instagram Explore page, which, in turn, will result in even more engagement on your post. It’s a cyclical process: higher engagement leads to more visibility, which leads to higher engagement, which leads to more visibility… and it all starts with when you post on Instagram.
This is why scheduling Instagram posts is so important to your overall Instagram strategy, and if you aren’t doing this already, now is the time to sign up for Later and start scheduling your Instagram posts!
When is the Best Time to Post on Instagram?
So now that you understand why posting when your audience is most active is important, it’s time to talk about the best time to post on Instagram. Here are some general rules about posting to Instagram in 2017:
- Post more during off-work hours than during the day. According to Later’s recent poll of social media managers, generally the best times to post on Instagram are lunch time (11am-1pm) and evenings (7-9pm). Think about it: when do you find yourself checking Instagram the most? Probably not during the work day, even though that may be when you want to post! Tip: schedule Instagram posts during the work day so you don’t have to worry about it during your free time.
- Weekends can be hit-or-miss depending on your audience. B2C companies will likely see better results when posting on weekends than B2B companies, since many businesses only operate during the week.
- Save the important posts for weekdays. The differences are slight, but average Instagram engagement does shift depending on the day. According to our own research, Wednesdays and Thursdays tend to drive the most engagement, while Sundays drive the least. Experiment with A/B testing the best days to post on Instagram (more on that below).
- Avoid 3pm, but don’t be afraid to experiment. Weekdays between 3 and 4pm typically drives the lowest engagement, likely because most users are busy at work at that time. However, we did receive feedback from some social media managers with large audiences on both the west and east coast that 4pm EST was their best time to post on Instagram. It’s a sweet spot that is near the end of the work day for east coast, and also lunch time on the west coast. 8pm EST would be another sweet spot to test out if your audience falls into this category!
How to Find Your Best Time to Post on Instagram
Despite the general rules above, there really is no single best time to post to Instagram. Different audiences will be active at different times, and in varying time zones.
Here are steps that you can take to determine your exact optimal posting time for Instagram:
Find Your Top Time Zones
When it comes to the best times to post on Instagram, it’s essential to think about time zones. Let’s say that you’re located in a city on the west coast, but most of your followers are in New York on the east coast. So while 9pm may be the one of the most popular times to post to Instagram, you would actually want to try posting at 6pm PST / 9pm EST, as most of your followers will be asleep by the time it’s 9pm on the west coast.
The best thing you can do to find your optimal posting time for Instagram is to research your audience using Instagram’s native analytics tool. Instagram Insights gives marketers everything they could ask for: you can see where your followers are located, their gender, their age, and, most importantly, when they’re most active on Instagram.
You can also view your followers’ locations by country, or for a more narrower scope you can view by city. Not only is this information incredibly useful for marketers to understand your audience, it also gives you a better sense of which time zones you should be posting in to reach the majority of your followers, so you can schedule your Instagram posts for the best time.
Insights makes it easy for you to find the best time to post on Instagram because it shows you both the most popular days and times when your followers are using Instagram. Using this data, you can quickly calculate the best times and best days to post to Instagram, based on your followers’ activity.
Experiment with Posting Times and Measure your Progress
Once you have a good sense of when your followers are most active on Instagram, you can create a spreadsheet to track how much engagement you receive when you post at different times on different days. This step is super important because it will help you pinpoint exactly when your posts receive the most engagement.
Start off by picking five different times throughout the week. For example, if you notice that your followers are most active between 5 and 9pm EST, schedule your posts to appear at 5, 6, 7, 8, and 9pm. In your spreadsheet, track how many likes and comments each post receives, along with the date and time that you posted them.
The following week, switch the timing of your posts for each day. For example, if you posted at 5pm on Monday in week 1, post at 6pm during week 2.
It might take a few weeks, but you can use this information to help you choose the best days to share to specific networks based on your own audience, along with the times that work best for getting traffic on those specific days.
Schedule your Posts
Now that you know when your Instagram audience is most active, and how to drive the most engagement based on your audience’s activity, the last step is to schedule your Instagram posts!
One of the best ways to ensure that you post consistently when your audience is most active is by using Later’s AutoSchedule tool. With AutoSchedule, you can create your own Instagram queue based on your best times to post. You just have to select your posting times once, and then when you queue up your Instagram posts they will automatically be scheduled for your desired timeslots.
After you schedule your posts with Later, you’ll get a notification when it’s time to post. All you have to do is open the notification and Later automatically pulls in your scheduled photo to Instagram, and it automatically copies your pre-written caption. Just hit “paste” in the caption field and you’re all set to post to Instagram.
Instagram is an incredible channel for businesses to achieve their marketing goals. But it isn’t enough to just post content whenever you feel like it. By planning and scheduling your posts in advance, you can boost your engagement, drive traffic, and gain new followers and customers!
Ready to get your social media strategy off the ground? Later makes it easy for you to plan, manage, and schedule your Instagram posts!