learn when to post on Instagram for optimal engagement
Optimize your Instagram posts by understanding the best posting times and days for maximum exposure and peek engagement with followers.
Let’s start with why we care. Timing is important because it can determine whether a greater majority of your followers see your photo or miss it entirely. Choose an optimal time and you’ll have much greater reach. Choose a “quiet” time and you might miss your traffic. In these challenging days our posts need all the advantage they can get.
If you search the internet you will find dozens of conflicting reports as to when are the best times to post on Instagram. This is due to the fact that there are many factors involved, from what niche you are in to where the majority of your followers reside (time zones), to how old your followers are, etc. It will help if we think about it logically, and then we’ll apply some research.
Best Posting Times on Weekdays
8:00- 9:00 a.m. is a good time. People are having coffee and “checking in.”
11:00-12:30 is a good time. People are having lunch, taking a break and peeking at their social media. Fewer posting and more peeking, that means a little less competition.
6:00-9:00 p.m. is a great time. People are finished with the tasks of the day, and this is the best time to catch the majority of people checking their Instagram.
Time Zones Are Important to Consider
These times are based on Central Time Zone and are general. So, if you are on the East Coast, generally speaking your “version” of these peak times will be later end, West Coast a bit earlier. It also depends on when you usually post.
For example, I visited Ohio all last week. My followers are used to me posting normally between 7-9 a.m. Pacific Standard Time every day. (I’m in Seattle). So, when I was using my WhenToPost app (which we’ll discuss) my optimal times each day said 11:30 a.m. or 12:00 p.m., three hours later, which makes sense.
Best Posting Times on Weekends
Weekends of course are different because people’s schedules are different.
Saturday peek time is 7:00 p.m. and 11:00 p.m. (less competition time and surprising traffic).
Sunday peek time is 5:00 p.m.
NOTE: The best times to post are when will you find your greatest number of followers on Instagram coinciding with the least amount of posting. This is tricky to find. But it is something to think about.
What Days Are Best?
When talking days of the week it turns out that the best day to post is Wednesday because it has the highest engagement of any day. Thursday is the highest traffic day. I always thought weekends were higher, but it turns out not to be true. People plan things and are out of their normal routines. I get less engagement on my posts, but I get more new followers. People tend to “explore” IG a bit more on the weekends.
How Often Should I Post?
There are a variety of schools of thought and there are a lot of factors involved in this decision. There are two main elements.
The key is: Quality over Quantity. If you don’t have a quality photo in your niche it’s always better to not post. Every post has the power to help or hurt. If it isn’t helping it’s hurting. Instagram is unforgiving and fickle. One post your followers don’t love and a percentage of them may easily hit “unfollow.”
That being said, Consistency is Key. It shows you are committed and reliable. Followers like that. Decide what you can support consistently and shoot for that, whether it’s once a day, twice a day, every other day. Never say to yourself, “Oh, I haven’t posted in a week. I’ve got some time; I’ll post four to five today and make up for lost time.” This will backfire. Keep those photos and space them out regularly once a day at key times.
How We Determine Our Best Posting Times
Jodie and I post twice a day, regularly. We post once in the morning (early because we are West Coast Time) and once in the evening. We both use a very useful app called When To Gram. This app analyzes our own followers’ traffic and tells us the top three times each day to post. Jodie and I use this as a guide every day. Our schedules don’t allow us to adhere perfectly, but it at least gives us the information for us to decide.
Note: If you have a business account on Instagram, you can use the analytics available in Insights to see where your followers are located. This is helpful to know time zones. You can and should use the charts regarding location, age, gender, and of course activity to help you determine your best times/days.
For more info on best posting practices, read our blog post on what makes a great IG post successful.
WhenToPost is the name of the app we use. This app is free in the app store. There are paid aspects within this app that we don’t pay for. The main features are all you need, and they are free. We don’t use the other features. We use this information as a guide. It helps because of the following:
1. Each day has different optimal times.
2. Each time zone has different optimal times.
3. Finally, every particular feed, based on its followers, has its own optimal times.
4. It does the analyzing for you, making it an invaluable tool.
General Rules of Thumb
- Experiment. Try different times and see how your followers react.
- Pay attention. Take note of what times work and what times don’t do as well.
- Keep time zones in mind. They are very important.
- Think about the natural times that you check your phone and therefore when it makes sense that your followers would be checking in.
- Also, really keep in mind that your ultimate times will be when the highest number of your followers are on their phones but not posting. The more posting that is happening the more competition for attention.
It’s Up to You
So, these are things to consider. Notice how I used the word “optimal” a lot. There isn’t a huge difference between times, although there is some. In the end, it’s simply something to consider. You can take all this information and then do as you please. You can post organically if you have more fun doing it that way. Jodie and I take the information and sometimes we follow it, and sometimes we do as we please. If you are working hard to grow your Instagram account and really want all your efforts to pay off as much as possible follow this advice. If you are here to “just have fun” you can ignore all this analysis. We are huge believers in enjoying the process. If posting “when the mood hits” makes it more enjoyable then we recommend doing just that.
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For more info on when to post on Instagram, read Later Media’s article, “The Best Time to Post on Instagram in 2019, According to 12 Million Posts.”