“When is the best time to post on Instagram?”
This is a question that doesn’t let many Instagrammers sleep at night. Literally!
And indeed, it’s a tough one. Finding your best time to post on Instagram promises to increase reach and engagement of your posts, which is oh so important in the days of the new Instagram algorithm.
There are tons of articles online that give you all kinds of advice on when to post.
Some tell you that you should do it on Wednesdays at 3pm.
Others tell you that you should actually avoid posting at 3pm and opt to post between 8-9am instead.
Then there are others that swear you’ll get the best engagement if only you post from 12-1pm.
I know. Confusing.
The thing is, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution. Because the best time to post on Instagram is highly individual. It depends on you, on your business, and on your audience, which is always case by case.
To find the most optimal posting time takes research. And, ironically, also time.
Luckily, this article is going to show you exactly how to do that! So read on to find out:
When is the best time to post on Instagram?
First thing’s first, why does it even matter to post at specific times on your Instagram?
Posting at your unique best time can help you reach more of your followers, which would result in a higher engagement rate. It is crucial to drive as much attention to your post as you can within the first 15-20 minutes, because the algorithm favours those posts that get an initial spike of likes. If your post gets a lot of engagement shortly after it’s posted, it tells Instagram that your content is of great quality — and that the algorithm should push it up the feed for more people to see.
There are engagement techniques you can use to gather those first likes. For instance, commenting on others’ content right after you published (to drive more attention to your own profile and score a ‘like’ on your latest post), using targeted hashtags, boosting your content via ads, and more.
However, all that hard work may be in vain if you publish your posts when your already existing audience isn’t online. You won’t be able to generate those first likes, which are so crucial for engagement, if you post your content at the time when your audience can’t see it.
Which brings us to the first step of your research: you must find out when your Instagram followers are online!
When are your followers online on Instagram?
How quickly you get engagement on your post determines its lifetime value. In other words, if you post at a time when your followers are online, you give your content an opportunity to be seen — and liked!
Posting at the “peak online” time is pretty much hacking the Instagram algorithm.
So how do you find out when your followers are online?
Go to Insights → Audience and scroll a bit down, and you’ll see on which days of the week — and which approximate times — your followers are the most active on Instagram.
This data gives you a good understanding of the best times to post, based on your own audience.
If you need a more exact hour-by-hour breakdown, you can also consult Iconosquare in the Analytics → Reach section. The most colored boxes indicate an hour of when the followers are online most, while the least colored spaces show when hardly anyone is online:
What you want is simple: pick the hours when most of your followers are online and post on those specific hours.
Experiment with posting times
Testing and experimenting should be every marketer’s mantra, and social media isn’t an exception. Once you’ve established when your audience is most likely to be online, the next thing to do is to play with different posting times to identify that Most Optimal Hour.
Choose a period when your followers are active on Instagram and start posting at different times within that period, to track any difference you receive in engagement rates.
For example, if you notice that most of your followers are online between 5 and 9pm, schedule your posts to appear at 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, and 9pm. Then, if you want to do the tracking manually, note the engagement rate of each post, along with the day and time of publishing.
Switch the timing of your posts every week. If you published on 1am this Wednesday, next week you could try 1pm instead. Once you have enough data to overview, highlight time slots that show a higher engagement rate:
What does Instagram analytics tell you?
If you hate spreadsheets just like I do, you can instead rely on analytics to tell you what your best time to post on Insta is.
Once you’ve published enough content, analytics can compare your posting habits with your most successful content and let you know if you’re hitting the sweet spot and publishing at the time that’s best for you.
On Iconosquare, you’ll be able to see this data in the Best Time to Post chart in the Engagement section.
When it comes to analyzing your posting times, though, keep in mind that the quality of your content can play a key role here. Different types of content get different engagement rates, that’s why it’s a good practice to post different media on the same day and the same hour of the week. This way, you’ll accumulate more data on each time slot, which will help Iconosquare offer you more accurate suggestions based on your posting history:
You can filter your results by engagement, likes, and comments, and select a data range on our date picker.
The black circles on the perimeter represent the hours and days that you most often post. From the account above, for example, that would be on Sundays at 5pm.
The very best times are starred. For this case, that’s Wednesdays at 5pm.
The pink-colored circles represent your optimal posting times. And the lighter colored circles represent less optimal, but still effective times to post.
It might take a few weeks for enough data to accumulate, but be patient! You can use this information in the future to help you choose the best days to share your content on Instagram to ensure you’re going to get the attention (and traffic) you deserve!
How to schedule for your best time to post
To save time, you’re probably already scheduling your Instagram posts for direct publishing. Well done. That means you’re sharing content consistently. What you can do now is to make sure you’re sharing it consistently at the right time.
Iconosquare’s Instagram Scheduler is a quick way to schedule all your content. Once you’ve posted enough of it, the Scheduler will indicate the most optimal time to post your media on Instagram with a little yellow star 🌟. Just make sure to tick the checkbox:
The yellow stars at certain slots on the calendar show you some of your best times to post. These are based on your top 5 best times to post (based on engagement) over the period of the last 3 months. So the more different timings you experiment with, the more accurate the suggestions will be!
Thanks to Iconosquare’s new Direct Publishing feature, you can now schedule your posts without any push notifications. This means that if you’re, for example, located in Europe, while your main audience is in the US (like in our own case), you can still make sure your content gets seen despite the difference in time zones. Because let’s face it: being asleep while your audience is awake is, well… not ideal 😅. So it’s great there’s now a way to get around this!
Instagram is one of the best channels for businesses to grow online and achieve their marketing goals. It’s just isn’t enough anymore to post whenever you feel like it. Becoming more strategic regarding your posting times is one of the key ways to Instagram success in 2019.
However, finding the best time to post takes time (pun intended).
Remind yourself that it’s a marathon, not a sprint. If you want to take data-driven decisions, you first need to accumulate that data — and that can take a while.
By planning and scheduling your content for the best time to post on Instagram, you can increase your reach, boost your engagement and, ultimately, gain more followers and customers.