The Statistical Best Time to Post on Instagram
Instagram used to rank posts in order of chronological posting, but in 2016 the site decided to replace that system with an algorithm that ranks posts based on engagement. The good news is that this means your posts that get attention are likely to go to, and stay at, the top of the feed. The bad news is that you’ll get buried if you don’t attract at least a little engagement (which basically means attention) from the get-go. One important part of getting engagement is the time that you post – post at the wrong moment and even a good post may end up going down the memory hole.
When Should You Post to Instagram?
So when is the right time to post? You’re not the first to ask this question. Several studies have been conducted trying to determine the ideal days and times for Instagram posts. Recent studies by Later, the Instagram marketing platform, and HubSpot, the marketing firm, unveiled some helpful tips for users who want to catch the most engagement. Here is a summary of their research results:
- Off work hours are typically better than work hours.
- Weekdays are typically better than weekends.
- The best days are Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday
- The best time of day is between 7 and 9 in the evening.
- The worst time of day is between 3 and 4 in the afternoon.
- The worst day of the week is Sunday.
It’s worth mentioning that Later and HubSpot agreed on many of these points. In particular, they both found that posts that went up from 3 pm to 4 pm found the least engagement. The two firms disagreed on the best days to post. Later maintained that Wednesday and Thursday were best, while HubSpot concluded that Monday and Thursday were best. According to these studies, the absolute worst time to post is between 3 and 4 pm on a Sunday, while the best time to post is between 7 and 9 pm on Monday, Wednesday, or Thursday.
Consider Your Target Audience
Of course, the above research is looking at a broad range of Instagram posts. For a more refined look at the best time to post, you’ll need to carefully consider your audience and when they might be likely to browse the platform. It may be that your audience is more active in the mornings or on the weekends. Ask yourself the following questions abut your target audience to help refine your ideal posting time.
- Do they work? If so, when are they likely to be working?
- When are they likely to have free time?
- How are they likely to access the platform? Mobile? Desktop?
- What time zone are they in? If it’s not yours, tailor your posts to their time zone.
Let’s say, for example, that you are targeting stay at home new moms. They are likely to have free time when the baby is napping. Babies don’t always nap at the same time, but they typically nap in the early afternoon even as they get bigger. Therefore, noon to 3 pm during the week is probably a safe bet. On the flip side, are you trying to reach hardcore gamers? For those folks, late night hours might actually make more sense than posting on Thursday night prime time.
You should also think about the reasons you have for posting. Are you trying to use Instagram to sell something? (In that case, you should also check out our article on how to use Instagram to boost your sales).
Research from HubSpot has found that there are big differences in optimum posting times and days depending on what kind of organization you are posting for. Here’s some of their breakdown:
For tech companies, the very best single time to post is Wednesday at 10 am. The time period in which posts attract engagement most consistently is Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday from 10 am to 5 pm. The best day overall is Thursday, while the worst day overall is Sunday.
For companies that sell directly to consumers, the best single time to post is Saturday at 11 am and 1 pm. The most consistent engagement time is everyday from 10 am to 3 pm. The best day overall is Wednesday, and the worst day is Monday.
For educational organizations, the best time to post is Monday at 8 pm. The time of most consistent engagement is weekdays from 11 am to 4 pm, while the best day to post is Monday and the worst day is Sunday.
Healthcare companies will find their best time to post is Tuesday at 1 pm, while their period of consistent engagement is Tuesday through Friday from 9 am to 4 pm. Tuesday is their best day to post, and Saturday and Sunday are both bad days for them.
Nonprofits have a number of peak posting times: Tuesday at 3 pm and 9 pm, Wednesday at 3 pm and 4 pm, Thursday at 2 pm and 3 pm, and Friday at 10 am and 2 pm. Their consistent engagement time is weekdays from noon to 5 pm, their best day is Tuesday, and their worst day is Saturday.
The Power of Personal Research
The most reliable method for determining the best time to post is simple observation. Track your Instagram metrics and experiment with content. (See our article on Instagram metrics for more on that topic.) What days of the week do you see the most engagement? What times during the day? Unfortunately, Instagram doesn’t provide users with even rudimentary metrics tools the way many other social media platforms do. Thankfully, there are other ways to stay on top of your likes. It may sound time consuming, but paying a little extra attention to your own personal trends will give you the information you need in order to get more likes for your next post.
- Get a free Instagram analytics tool like Iconosquare or InstaFollow.
- Use old fashioned pen, paper, and calculator.
Once you know the best time to post on Instagram, it’s time to get that post scheduled. After all, you’re not always going to be available to post when those ideal hours roll around. Unlike other social media platforms, Instagram doesn’t have a built-in tool for getting posts scheduled. You’ll need to use a tool like Sked Social or Later to get the job done. Luckily, many of these tools are free and easy to use. With a little research and some legwork, a bigger Instagram following is not far away.