Is there really a best time of the day to post on Instagram so your photos and videos get more views, likes and comments? Figuring this out can be a little bit tricky.
First of all, since Instagram is primarily accessed via a mobile device, users can take a quick glance at their Instagram feed any time they want, from almost anywhere. Posting, viewing and interaction habits tend to be quite different on Instagram compared to other social networks, making it slightly harder to pinpoint when users are most active.
Oh, and there’s one other huge thing that Instagram recently introduced…
The New Instagram Algorithm and What It Means for Timeliness
Instagram is now rearranging users’ feeds to show them what it thinks they want to see first rather than showing them all the most recent posts in the order of when they were posted. This means that you could post something at a particular time and still have it seen by many of your followers or perhaps hardly any of your followers at all, depending on how much or how little they interact with your content.
According to Instagram, the order of posts in users’ feed will be based on the likelihood they’re interested in the posts, their relationships with the accounts they follow and the timeliness of the posts. So, although interaction now affects how posts show up in the feed, timeliness is still certainly relevant — perhaps just not quite as relevant as before the algorithm rollout.
What to Consider First
To figure out your own best time to post on Instagram, first consider taking a look at these two major factors that will affect it:
Your target follower demographics: Adults who work the typical 9-to-5 job might be more likely to look at Instagram in the morning, whereas college kids who stay out late and pull all-nighters might be slightly more active on Instagram during those off hours.
Identifying who your target audience can be a first step toward figuring out what time of day they like to check Instagram.
Timezone differences: If you’ve got followers or a target audience from all over the world, then posting at specific times of day may not get you the same results as if you had followers who mostly all live around the same timezone locations. For example, if most of your followers are from North America living in the typical North American timezones of Pacific, Mountain, Central and Eastern, you could start experimenting with starting to post on Instagram around 7am EST and stopping around 9pm PST (or 12am EST).
Engagement patterns you’ve noticed: Make sure you pay close attention to any increases in interaction when you post at certain times of day. No matter what the research says and the experts tell you about optimal times and days to post, what ultimately matters is the behavior of your own followers.
What the Research Say About Posting on Instagram at Specific Times
According to TrackMaven: By analyzing Instagram engagement habits on posts made by Fortune 500 companies in 2013, TrackMaven found that it didn’t seem to matter what time the posts showed up on Instagram — users engaged regardless of the time they were posted.
Choosing specific times to post didn’t make much of a difference in engagement results.
According to Later (formerly Latergramme): 61,000 posts were analyzed back in February of 2015 and proved that 2:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. were among the best times of the day to post, with Wednesday being the best day to post (followed by Thursday). Engagement dropped significantly at 9:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m.
According to Mavrck: After analyzing 1.3 million posts, Mavrck concluded in a September 2015 report that midnight, 3:00 p.m. and 4:00 p.m. were the most popular times to post. Wednesday, Thursday and Friday were the most popular days to post.
Posting between the hours of 6:00 a.m. and 12:00 p.m. during off hours when posting is low could work to your advantage, because users are still browsing their feeds.
According to Hubspot: Using data collected from a variety of sources, Hubspot published an infographic in early 2016 revealing that the best time to post on Instagram is any time on Monday or Thursday except for the hour between 3:00 p.m. and 4:00 p.m. (possibly because this is when the largest influx of posts occur, as noted above by Mavrck). Video posts apparently do best when they’re posted at night between the hours of 9:00 p.m. and 8:00 a.m. Other specific times that were shown to work well for some posters included 2:00 a.m., 5:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. on Wednesdays.
Time Slots to Try
Despite all these different findings, you won’t know exactly what works best until you start experimenting and keeping track of engagement results. Again, it all depends on your target audience and how you’re using Instagram to connect with your followers.
You can start by experimenting with the following time slots for posting on Instagram:
Mornings, 7:00 a.m. – 9:00 a.m. Morning hours are a good time to post, because everyone is just waking up. Most people can’t resist checking their phones to see what they missed while they were asleep. After 9:00 a.m., however, you may see a bit of a drop in engagement due to regular work and school hours.
Midday, 11:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. Around the lunch hour is when people get a break to do what they want, and that often includes checking social media.
Evenings, 5:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. After school and work, people get the chance to relax. People may start checking their phones while they sit in transit or in front of the TV just before dinnertime. Just be aware that you may be better off posting earlier around 5:00 p.m. or later at 7:00 p.m. rather than right in the middle (6:00 p.m.) when a lot of people are commuting home from work or eating dinner.
Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays seem to have the highest engagement according to the research sources above. Track the amount of likes and comments you get for each time slot and make adjustments as needed.
Stick to Posting Videos After Work/School Hours
Video interaction tends to differ slightly compared to photos posted on Instagram. If you really want your video to be viewed, limit posting video content to the evening hours or much later at night.
If you think about it, it makes sense. Instagram videos need to be viewed in full by turning on the sound, which can be awkward if viewers are at work or at school. People are more likely to watch your video on their own time when they’re less busy or at home.