To build a relevant Instagram audience, you have to do more than create amazing content that captivates your audience. You also have to make sure they see it.
Instagram switched to an algorithm-based feed in 2016 that favors more recent posts and updated the algorithm again in 2018 to ensure users were being served fresh content they were more likely to engage with. The latest updates in 2019 and early 2020 improved on the security with artificial intelligence and tweaked the algorithm even more.
This means that no matter how many times a user refreshes their feed, newer posts are most likely going to be seen first.
If you aren’t posting at the right time, most of your audience will never get a chance to engage with the content you’ve worked so hard on. Everyone loses in this situation.
How can your brand beat Instagram's algorithm and make sure your content is at the top of your followers’ feeds?
Simple, post when the majority of your followers are using the app.
So what is the best time to post on Instagram? The Bestsocialmediaboost team has some insights to help you structure your Instagram marketing blueprint.
After analyzing thousands of Instagram accounts and millions of posts, the Bestsocialmediaboost (BSMB) team found that it’s not so clear cut.
The best time to post your content is between 1 pm and 2 pm EST, but depending on the day of the week, your engagement rates can dramatically change. For instance, BSMB found that the best time to post on Friday is not just 1 pm, but also at 5 am and 3 pm as well.
Why is this true?
Well, think about the way your routines and moods change from day to day, whether consciously or unconsciously. Your mood and routine will affect your behavior. The same is true of everyone else.
Here are some insights to think about:
The BSMB team has found that when posting to Instagram, going by a single time range alone is enough. By considering the day, week, and industry you’re in, you’ll be able to optimize the number of engagement users has with your content.
Figuring out the best time to post for your specific audience can be done in a few different ways:
Since using a social media management platform is pretty straightforward because you are paying for their services, the BSMB team will focus on the other three methods.
Instagram Insights is the in-app Instagram analytics tool that can help you figure out the optimal posting time for your audience.
As a starting point, it has all the analytics you could dream of, including your followers’:
By looking up your most popular locations, you can determine your top time zones and see when the most Instagram activity occurs.
You can easily use this data to form your new Instagram posting strategy that is based on the best days and times to post.
Whether you’re not a fan of graphs and charts or just prefer to do the math on your own, you can figure out your posting times using a bit of trial and error. A spreadsheet is all you need to track the levels of engagement you get when posting on different days of the week and at different times.
Start by looking at the posting times of your top five posts. If you don’t have any posts, you can choose five random times you want to try throughout the week.
Let’s say you choose at 10 am, 11 am 12 pm, 1 pm, and 2 pm. This gives you some morning and afternoon data.
You’ll post on Monday at 10 am, Tuesday at 11 am, Wednesday at 12 pm, and so on. Then record the number of comments and likes each post receives.
For the next week, switch the specific times for each day. For example, post on Monday at 11 am, Tuesday at 12 pm, Wednesday at 1 pm, Thursday at 2 pm, and Friday at 10 am. Then record the number of comments and likes.
This method will take some time, but it is going to help you identify the optimal times and days to share based on your discreet audience. You may even be able to figure out new insights and see patterns you otherwise wouldn’t if you continue to experiment.
This strategy is especially useful for business accounts starting from scratch.
The amount of engagement you receive is also based partly on the industry you’re in. If you want to know the approaches the best of the best in your industry take toward posting, looking at their accounts, and noting their posting times can offer you more granular timing information.
Start slowly by choosing the top 1-3 companies in your industry and looking at their accounts. Look at the times they’ve posted and the kind of engagement each post received.
If you are serving the same kind of information to the same audience, this will help you form a strategy not only around posting but also the type of content your audience may be interested in.
Though the differences may be small, Instagram engagement does change depending on the day. For example, B2B companies enjoy more engagement while their audience is at work, but a blogger may get higher engagement on the weekend when their audience has more downtime to read posts. Be sure to also use hashtags as these have proven to work well in social media marketing campaigns.
You may live in Chicago, but if the majority of your followers are in LA, you should be posting for the PST time zone. If you have a huge audience in the UK, schedule Instagram posts for their optimal time as well (have a look for scheduling tools online). Remember it may be close to midnight for you, but it will be early morning across the pond.
The optimal posting time is a metric that only works if you are creating content that you have optimized to perform well. If people don’t like the content in their faces, they are not going to engage with it.
Having a “best time to post” doesn’t mean that you can’t post at other times. Any successful Instagram strategy you employ should have lots of room for testing. Don’t let the obsession to optimize make you or your business practices become too rigid. You may realize that posting at peak times or work hours on certain days of the week produces better results, so it's all about experimenting to see the post time that works best for you.
In order to build a large, engaged Instagram audience for your brand, you need to have a thorough understanding of who your followers/target audience is and how the Instagram algorithm works in showing your content on user's feeds.
One of the best ways to learn about them and hold their attention is to find out when they are surfing their Instagram feed. This allows you to deliver the content you know they want at the best time for them to see it.