You constantly pump out great content on Instagram, so it’s only natural you want it to be seen by the most people possible.
Strategic timing of the posts and sharing updates at peak times are among the best ways to increase your exposure organically.
Wait a second… (you say suspiciously) Instagram news feed has been algorithm-based for quite some time now… It’s not chronological, and thus, not about timing.
You are right in that the feed is algorithm-based, and thus, what’s most important is the engagement you get on your posts. However, algorithm takes into consideration a lot of factors; one of the most important of which is how fast a given piece of content rakes in likes and comments.
See, it makes sense that if a post generates 1000 likes in the first 15 minutes, it has to be really, really good. (Unless, those are bots, but Instagram is not stupid. It distinguishes bots from real accounts.)
So, back to our conversation, to gain algorithm’s momentum behind any given piece of content, said photo or video has to engage a lot of people really fast. The most straightforward and effective way to do so is to post when your following is online.
To gain algorithm’s momentum, a piece of content has to engage a lot of people really fast.
So, when are the peak times to post on social media?
Tons of studies by respected companies have yielded often inconsistent, and sometimes even contradictory, findings. Interestingly enough though, a lot of said researches has agreed on Instagram’s perfect timing.
It’s been concluded that the best times to post are during workdays, but differ on the best day. They also all agree that early mornings and right after work hours are the best. It’s generally ok to post during the entire day, but beware of some sort of blackout around 3 pm.
Now, it’s all great, but you have a business to run and you can’t rely your whole social media strategy on some vague generalities that have nothing to do with you.
I will share with you how to gain insight into the best times posting times on Instagram for your specific audience.
Now, this will ensure that your awesome content is seen by your audience right when they’re on the app and ready to engage.
Instagram Business Account
This is the simplest way to get the insight you need. If you have a business account with Instagram, access Analytics; and it’s all there. Easily figure out the best days and times to post for your audience. Go to Followers tabs and click “See More.” You can scroll through hours and days graphs to see top hours.
While you’re there, also check their geography in “Top Locations” to see where most of your followers are located. This is a very useful bit of information to figure out the time zone(s) they are in.
If you do not, however, have a Business account, try a few tools available in the market.
SimplyMeasured is a very powerful marketing tool that comes with a hefty price tag. As a small business owner, however, you can take advantage of their freebies, such as Instagram User Report. Authorize this app with Instagram and you’ll get your free report in minutes.
Free Instagram account checkup from Union Metrics includes best times to post for your account as well as a lot of other helpful insights.
Same as above, you’ll need to authenticate an app with Instagram, and get your report in just a few minutes. Simple.
This is one of the most recognized and widely-used Instagram analytics tools. Now that it doesn’t have a free version, Iconosquare starts at $9 a month.
It’s well worth the investment though, as this tool dives deep into your account performance. Visualize your follower growth, analyze which hashtags and filters perform best, and of course, when is the best time to post on the platform.
Iconosquare comes with a 14-day free trial, so if you’re not ready to commit just yet, give it a try for free.
To get those features, you’ll have to sign up for a Business plan starting at $16 a month. Yet, again, it does much more than Instagram scheduling.
A thing to keep in mind when figuring out the best time to publish
One thing you have to keep in mind with all of these tools is that they are calculating the best times based on your existing posting schedule.
So, say you’re posting every day in the morning. None of these tools, neither do you, know how your posts would perform if you were to post in the evening. So, while you get a good insight into the best time to publish your content, you’re not getting a full picture unless you experiment a bit.
First of all, a helpful starting point is to know your audience. Know where they are and what their typical day looks like.
Do they work a typical 9-5 office job? Their usual Instagram splurge time may be during the morning commute time, during lunch hours, and in the evenings when they’re chilling at home.
Are they stay-at-home moms? Their early morning may be too busy for Insta. They might check in later in the morning, when their family had their breakfast and left for the day. They might also binge on Instagram during regular nap times, like in the early afternoons.
Again, these are all assumptions you’d want to test for yourself, but it may be a good starting point. Plus, I can’t stress enough the importance of time zones. If you’re not in the same time zone, or your audience is spread across time zones, you have to keep it in mind and test even further.
Besides, having a diverse posting schedule will help you get in front of new people who might not see your content otherwise.
Keep different variables in mind
While you’re experimenting and analyzing the best times to post on Instagram, remember that there are a lot of other variables that affect engagement rates.
Having a diverse posting schedule will help you get in front of new people who might not see your content otherwise.
The obvious ones are the quality of your post, whether you asked a question that prompted more comments, and things like that.
However, there are also things like how engaged you were in the community that day, if anyone mentioned you in their post, and even whether there was a major holiday. For example, one of the best engagement rates I had was on 4th of July. Because this is a major holiday in the United States, a lot of people were off that day, barbecuing and hanging out with their friends and family. They had more time to browse on Instagram, and as a result, were more engaged with the post they’ve seen that day.
Bonus tip: if you feel like some of the posts didn’t quite hit the mark you were expecting them to, give them another chance. Don’t hesitate to repost your best content occasionally. Chances are high that not all of your audience saw it the first time, so adjust accordingly.
It’s nice to have insights into general statistics and metrics. However, you have an abundance of tools to know the specifics that work for your business. Don’t just rely on a third-party research, know the ins and outs of your strategy.
Have you experimented with posting times? What conclusions did you make? Share in the comment section below or head over to Instagram @lesyaliu to continue the conversation.