When is the Best Time to Post on Instagram for the Maximum Engagement?

When is the Best Time to Post on Instagram for the Maximum Engagement?

We all know that social media algorithms favor recent content and will see how people engage with your content after you publish it. If a lot of people engage with your content, you will tend to get more impressions. If your content is greeted by the sound of crickets, it will also be noted. Timing, therefore, is one aspect of organic social media that every marketer needs to master. This post will look more closely at Instagram and identify the best time to post on Instagram for maximum engagement.

Are you and your content relevant on Instagram?

“When is the best time to post on Instagram?” This topic has been tackled frequently. Yes, there is data that might support this time or that day, even drilled down to a specific industry, but let’s face it: there are a myriad of factors that decide the success of your Instagram posts outside of your timing. These factors include the following:

  • quality of your content
  • its relevance to your audience
  • what your competition (all of the other Instagram users that your followers follow) is posting when you post
  • the ever-changing Instagram algorithm.

I will touch upon some of the data that some companies have announced, but like anything else in social media, marketing, or business, YMMV (Your Mileage Might Vary). At the end of the day, you should be using that data or my advice below as a starting point and continue to perfect your timing in PDCA fashion. After all, let’s face it: social media is a form of art. Purposeful, quick-witted, thought-provoking, sly, informative, and most of all, inspirational. 

This is what businesses need to strive to provide.

There’s an art to participating on Instagram, the billion dollar tech enterprise (now estimated to be worth 100 billion dollars) with its storyline consumer appeal. As you all know, Instagram is cool, hip, and user-friendly. Today, it is an unprecedented tool used to boost your presence as an entrepreneur, small business, corporation, or everyday user.

As a shiny, light platform whereby the youthful and savvy generations actively engage with more products and services, Instagram is a valuable tool in effective social media marketing. Because Instagram relies on content that promotes and persuades–even amongst the changing algorithms–researching your audience will help you gain more Instagram followers by understanding what time they’re online and how often. Flowing with the algorithm and how it chooses what photos and videos show up in your newsfeed is something that helps maximize engagement.

Having your words and images occur in a more chronological order are the keys to Instagram’s algorithmic success. Is what you’re posting today trendy and relevant? Are you marketing to the right crowd and at the right time? You have to keep the content and posting time fresh to maintain a positive and paramount following.

Audiences rely on up-to-date information and current photos, rather than images from even one year ago. If you’re posting an ad or a promotional video that’s been done to death in the same market, your competition will remain fierce. Instagram requires you give it a sense of journalism and research. The strongest indicator of Instagram success can be the user-generated content of photos that fascinate, having more audience urgency.

Are you marketing to the right audience on Instagram?

For the ordinary GenXGenZGenY, or millennial user, Instagram thrives on advertising and marketing. The social media’s glory moments occur when compelling content is driven to influence others. There’s even a population segment dubbed “Influencers”, or generational users who know what they’re doing and when they’re doing it for prime audience captivation.

To gain more word of mouth exposure, consider how simple your message is and the time of day or week you’re posting that message. Because the target audience is friendlier, more apt to engage, and can help increase business sales twofold, your highlighted Instagram fame depends on knowing your audience. Are they late night crawlers who are eager for something eclectic and creative? Are they suit-and-tie professionals who dabble on the dark side?

Are your viewers conservative nine-to-fivers? Do these same people share your posts? If you aren’t using Instagram for your business, you might be missing out on a crucial marketplace that flourishes on current behaviors and unique followers.

Know your customer, know your newsfeed, and make friends with timeliness. Who are they, when are they online, and what are they responding to in business or personal relationships? Keeping everything friendly and intentional is why posting on Instagram is so important in today’s marketplace. Calculating what consumers want each day and each week is essential to building relationships. Sharing valuable photos and maintaining an innovative stance with your audience by posting on your social platform at the optimal time of day is essential to continue to grow your following.

Because Instagram provides essential filters to edit and polish up even the most mundane image, try not to overdo your photos. Some Instagram photo edits can come off as fake and appear as if you’re trying too hard. Make your message simple, clean, classy, appealing, inspiring, and relatable. That’s why Instagram has taken over the entrepreneurial side of advertising for the youth and those wanting to engage with a younger audience: they’re the population who has the most significant impact on influence and storytelling.

Timing is everything

Just as you wouldn’t want to spread the word of something celebratory or important too early, you should pay close attention to your time slot when scheduling Instagram posts. Since photos are the driving force behind this incredibly successful app, showing your personality at specific times of the day and week are essential to maximizing engagement.

When you post an update is equally as crucial as what you’re posting and who’s reading. The best time to post on Instagram can be broken down into segments; those time frames where you have to factor in your west coast audience versus your east coast users, and all the other midwestern states in between. If your plan is to go global, that’s a whole different animal. One share from a happy customer and you might land yourself in the middle of the European and Asian markets, to name a few.

Needless to say, this advice is based on my operation being in the United States. If you build your Instagram presence from scratch, there’s always an audience waiting just for you! Wanting an empire? Ready to launch a new brand? Running a mom-and-pop shop and need to get the word out? Is your e-commerce business competitive and pulling in sales? Each of these questions are considerable reasons to begin an Instagram account and be the master of your domain. It’s never too late to sign up and hop on the (highly profitable) bandwagon.

When IS the best time slot to post on Instagram for maximum engagement?

The following are noteworthy reasons for being timely with your Instagram posting. Each time slot is broken down into hourly slots of the day and week, based on popularity, and whether your audience is tuned into your post. This chart will help you think about your algorithms, as well.

  • 8:00 a.m. – The early hour. Typically, users of this nature tend to ruminate on their post and sharing capabilities throughout the night. Heck, you might even lose some sleep over what you’re about to put out into the world. Chances are, this “coffee crowd” is ready, on their phones, at their laptops, and cannot wait to view the latest, greatest update. Posting at this hour usually means your marketing goal setting is geared toward early risers such as professionals and parents. 
  • 11:00 a.m. – Whether you’re on PST or EST or CST in the United States, these users have already done their yoga, had their breakfast, and are knee deep into work. Right before the lunch hour is a peak time to snag your audience, as they haven’t gotten to the ‘out to lunch’ phase of their day. Overseas, this hour tends to work the opposite and appeal to the night crawlers.
  • 3:00 p.m. – It’s not exactly cocktail hour, yet the afternoon crowd is poised to hang out on their phones before the end of the workday. It’s a break time of sorts, one where people stretch out, catch up, and are glued to social media.
  • 8:30 p.m. – You’re not quite ready to call it a day yet. The pistons are firing and imagination runs wild when nighttime sets in. After a healthy walk under the stars, there’s nothing more inspiring than sitting at your computer or viewing your recently charged-up phone to capture the late ‘after dinner’ audience. Again, this could appeal to a global mindset, as well. When you wake up in the morning, you might be surprised to see that your post gathered about 1000 more followers and likes than before you had that extra glass of wine or cold beer.
  • Midnight – When the artists come out to play, midnight postings and shares are vampire-worthy. They have depth, truth, and sometimes, shock appeal. You’d be surprised how many Instagram users are burning the midnight oil in the hopes of gaining more traction in business and online presence. This group of users might sleep in late, however they’ll be pleasantly surprised when their status has soared to greater heights with one thought-provoking image and message.
  • Weekends – Saturdays are meant for lighter fare, versus heavy images or thoughts. Go for playful and sincere. Take Sundays off and think about the types of content you might post in the upcoming week. While you’re away, you’ll build suspense for Monday morning.

What famous industry data studies teach us is the best time to post on Instagram

The above is one general way of looking at the best time to post on Instagram. There have been numerous studies done as well that you should consider as part of your Instagram strategy.

Sprout Social

Sprout Social determined the best posting times based entirely on Consumer Data. 

Monday through Friday, 9 a.m.–4 p.m

The best possible time to post is between 9 AM and 4 PM. This time frame was identified as the best time to encourage engagement and actually be seen by your audience. Both are paramount in determining when you should schedule your social posts. 

Hubspot

Hubspot’s evaluation of the best posting time is based on information delivered in Sprout Social’s report mentioned above. They analyzed the data and made more specific recommendations based on the day of the week as follows:

Sunday: 8 AM – 2 PM (Though engagement is generally low on this day) 

Monday: 11 AM – 2 PM

Tuesday: 10 AM – 3 PM, *7 PM

Wednesday: 7 AM – 4 PM (Engagement peaks at 11AM – 2PM)

Thursday: 10 AM – 2 PM, 6 – 7 PM

Friday: *9 AM – 2 PM

Saturday: 9 – 11 AM

These times were identified from Sprout Social data to determine the best possible times to post on Instagram. The times that are starred were considered the best possible times to post to your feed or stories, as these times corresponded to both the best possible engagement and the greatest number of individuals being on Instagram. Looking at the data, it is easy to determine that there is a specific time frame within which posting regularly is advised. According to the data, the most important posting times are on weekdays, between the hours of 9 or 10 and 2 or 3. Posting within this time frame may give you the best possible chance of improving your follower count and driving engagement. 

Later

Later’s data suggests the best posting times according to 12 million posts. 

Monday: 6am, 10am, and 10pm EST

Tuesday: 2am, 4am, and  9am EST

Wednesday: 7am, 8am, and 11pm EST

Thursday: 9am, 12pm, and 7pm EST

Friday: 5am, 1pm, and 3pm EST

Saturday: 11am, 7pm, and 8pm EST

Sunday: 7am, 8am, and 4pm EST

According to Later’s evaluation of social media posting, the best possible time to post is between the hours of 9 and 11 AM, EST. This is a much smaller window than most data provides, and can be problematic for businesses and brands that are not in the Eastern time zone, or that operate outside of these hours. Social media scheduling tools can help shore up any differences, but the ideal time can also extend to between noon and 3 PM within this same time zone. 

Hootsuite

Data based on Hootsuite internal information.

8AM-12PM PST, or else 4-5PM PST

This particular set of data was developed according to Hootsuite’s own user information. Hootsuite is a social media management tool that can help social media users schedule their posts, and gather data about their social media strategy and organization. According to Hootsuite user data, the two periods above are the best times to post on Instagram. 

Brand Mentions

Data gathered according to 2 million posts

3 P.M. to 10 P.M. CDT

In a sharp change from most of the data gathered from other sites and management tools, Brand Mentions suggests that you post from 3 PM to 10 PM on Sundays to improve engagement and likes. This piece of data is important, because it does not merely focus on the busiest times on Instagram, but the busiest engagement time on Instagram. If your goal is not only to improve views, but to improve likes and other forms of engagement, Sunday evening from 3-10 is best.  

ExpertVoice

Evaluations based on their own analysis

9:00 AM to 6:00 PM during weekdays

ExpertVoice identified 9 to 6 as the widest window in which to post with a strong chance of receiving engagement. Posting within this window has been identified as the best possible chance of being seen, which can lead to an increase in engagement and followers. 

Planoly

This data comes from clients of this particular tool. 

5 A.M. to 8 A.M., 3 P.M. to 9 P.M.

Planoly’s data focuses on each of the major cities in different time zones, and evaluates the best possible times to post in those time zones. Planoly’s data is best for individuals who are looking for a time specific to their area, and can help determine where to start your posts, in order to further whittle down your ideal post time. 

Social Pilot

Based on their own analysis of available data.

6 A.M. to 9 A.M. , 12 P.M. to 2 P.M., 5 P.M. to 6 P.M.

In another break from tradition,  Social Pilot suggests posting in Instagram from 6 AM to 9 AM, 12 to 2, or 5 to 6. Posting within these windows can help you determine which option best suits your brand or company’s unique needs. 

As you can see, the data varies by study because everyone’s audience is different, lives in different time zones, and consumes different content at different times of the day. The key, then, is to be able to figure out when your unique audience is most active on Instagram.

How to find out when your audience is most active 

Although following all of the guidelines above can help you determine your best and worst time to post, your audience is unique, and you should strive to create a posting schedule that fits your own audience and needs. Using tools like Sprout Social, or Instagram Insight, you can successfully evaluate your own page’s best practices, and learn when it is best to post on your social platform. Whether you are an individual brand or a B2C company, it is vital for you to understand and familiarize yourself with your own audience, rather than relying entirely on other people’s analyses. 

See when your followers are online.

Take some time to evaluate your Instagram Insight tool or another analytics tool to evaluate when your followers are most frequently online. Most audiences, no matter how large or how small, have some degree of commonality between them. Search for any indicators that your followers are online, including the most likely times for engagement on your visual content, to determine your own personal optimal posting time. Evaluating your audience will reveal what a bad time to post might be for your page, and will help you determine both the type of content and the timing of posted content that you should pursue. 

Look carefully at top performing posts and when they were published.

Looking at your top performing posts regularly and evaluating the time of day in which they were posted can help you determine your best possible post time. This, too, can be achieved by looking through Instagram Insight data, or can be done manually, by combing through all of your images on a weekly or monthly basis.

You also have the option of using tools to help you with this. trendHERO is an influencer marketing tool created for influencer analysis and discovery that also has a tracking feature providing you the following “Best time for posting” information for Instagram accounts: 

best time to post on Instagram using TrendHero tool example

In this way you can actually see the best time for posting for almost any Instagram account. The above example illustrates that Monday 10-12, Wednesday 12-14 and 20-22, Friday 14-16 and Sunday 8-10 are all optimal times. Compare this data to your own as part of your analysis.

In developing your strategy, you should identify the best posting time for your primary audience on both your Instagram posts as well as your Instagram stories.  

Check out when your high-performing competitors are publishing.

Once you’ve evaluated your content, move onto any business account, business profile, or personal profile that is targeting your same audience or producing a similar type of content. Doing so can help you fine-tune your marketing strategy and can help improve levels of engagement on your day to day posts. Evaluating competitors can also help you develop a broader period of time in which to post, versus an exact time to post, to begin experimenting and learning more about the most active time for your unique audience. Social media management involves far more than simply looking at your own social media post, and requires you to evaluate the post performance of your closest competitors.

Fine-Tune Your Instagram Strategy

Your marketing strategy is your greatest asset with Instagram. Building an audience that falls in love with your content is the main priority, and the exact time frame in which you’re sharing videos and relevant images can make or break your business and brand. If you’re not sharing during your brand’s peak engagement time, you may be losing valuable time with your audience and you may be losing out on consistent engagement with your audience. 

If you fine tune your profile, adding a trendy profile picture, your up-to-date bio information, and a clickable URL to your website, not only will users feel compelled to click onto your business page, but they’ll share it if the Instagram promotion is classy. Ensuring that all details of your Instagram account and links to your other websites or portfolios are in order is a surefire step towards success on this social media platform.

Standing out from the crowd is a top priority. If it seems as if you’re struggling to gain attention and followers, re-evaluate your “why” and go from there. The latest cliche for Instagram users is how to build a tribe. Your tribe are those who get your message, support your “why” factor, and are eager to hang out on social media with you.

If you’re looking for more guidance about your Instagram strategy, check out my video on the subject here:

Outlook and overview

Master your voice. Hone your research on generational trends. Pick and choose the times that have the most effect and publish goal-driven content. If you’re using hashtags as a search function, tap into your target audience.

Now, make our eyes pop!

On a final note, don’t forget to analyze how your posts do at different times and continue practicing optimization, but remember that timing is only one element that determines the success of your post in the Instagram feed.

Do you agree with this advice on when is the best time to post on Instagram for maximum engagement?

Hero photo by Fabian Albert on Unsplash

When Is The Best Time To Post On Instagram FAQs

Is it better to post on Instagram at night or in the morning?

Determining the best time to post on Instagram depends on your Instagram Strategy and carefully studying your audience evaluating when your audience is mostly online. Here are the best time slots to post on Instagram:

1. 8:00 AM
2. 11:00 Am
3. 3:00 PM
4. 8:30 PM
5. Midnight

When should I post on Instagram 2021?

Generally, experts recommend posting between 9:00 AM – 6:00 PM on weekdays if you are aiming for a solid engagement with your audience. The specific time slot may vary depending on the time your audience is most active, hence, you need to always watch your Instagram Insights. This will help you know when is the peak engagement you get from your audience.

What’s the worst time to post on Instagram?

Experts have observed that weekends are generally the worst time to post on Instagram. Those are the days that tend to have the lowest engagement rates. To be more specific, the worst time slot is between 3 and 4pm.

How can I get more likes on Instagram?

Here are some tips on how you can get more likes on Instagram:

1. Carefully understand your target audience
2. Make eye-catching visual content
3. Always add CTA on your Instagram captions
4. Use relevant hashtags
5. Engage with your followers

Should you post every day on Instagram?

In general, experts recommend posting once a day, no more than 3 times. On a weekly basis, the rule of thumb is 3-7 posts. At the end of the day, what matters most is that you post regularly and consistently.

Learn why timing on Instagram matters and more specific advice on when is the best time to post on Instagram to ensure maximum engagement
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Neal Schaffer
Neal Schaffer is a leading authority on helping businesses through their digital transformation of sales and marketing through consulting, training, and helping enterprises large and small develop and execute on social media marketing strategy, influencer marketing, and social selling initiatives. President of the social media agency PDCA Social, Neal also teaches digital media to executives at Rutgers University, the Irish Management Institute (Ireland), and the University of Jyvaskyla (Finland). Fluent in Japanese and Mandarin Chinese, Neal is a popular keynote speaker and has been invited to speak about digital media on four continents in a dozen countries. He is also the author of 3 books on social media, including Maximize Your Social (Wiley), and in late 2019 will publish his 4th book, The Business of Influence (HarperCollins), on educating the market on the why and how every business should leverage the potential of influencer marketing. Neal resides in Irvine, California but also frequently travels to Japan.
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One comment

  1. I’ve newly created a page on Instagram to help grow my business and I was looking for an article that is related to when is the best time to post on Instagram and how can I get the maximum engagement. I’ve read this article carefully I’ll improve my content and post according to the time that you’ve suggested. Thank you for this informative article.

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