When is the best time to post on Instagram? Find out how the experts determine the answer to this popular question.
There’s no universal rule for when to post to Instagram. While there are plenty of ad-hoc studies and industry benchmarks out there, every brand is unique because every audience is unique.
In general, posting when your followers are online is key, because the Instagram algorithm prioritizes recency. This means that, if all else is equal, a newer post will show up higher on the newsfeed than an older one.
But beyond that, it’s also important to know what, exactly, your goals are for your Instagram marketing strategy. Do you have specific targets around building awareness, engagement, or driving traffic? What does success look like to you, and when have your posts achieved that success in the past? Your past successes are a key guideline for when you should be posting, overall.
I know, I know—this is starting to sound like you’re going to have to break out the spreadsheets. However, the right Instagram analytics tool will do the heavy lifting and number-crunching for you.
Let’s take a look at how the social team at Hootsuite figured it out.
We asked Brayden Cohen, Hootsuite’s Social Marketing and Employee Advocacy Strategist, about the best time to post on Instagram for our accounts, and he gave us the scoop:
“Typically, we like to post early in the morning and mid-afternoon. For Instagram, that means we try to post anytime between 8AM-12PM PST, or else 4-5PM PST on weekdays.”
First, consider what kind of performance you’re aiming for: brand awareness or engagement. Your approach to timing your Instagram posts might vary depending on which of these is more important to you.
In the past, which of your posts have earned high impressions? When did you post them? And are these posts different from the ones earning likes?
The next step for finding your best time to post is taking a look at your analytics to determine when your followers are scrolling their feed.
As marketers, we need to know our audiences. If you’re targeting Gen Z sports fans on Instagram, their social media consumption habits might be wildly different from the tech executives waking up at 4AM to meditate in their infrared saunas.
Depending on your industry, your competitors may be doing some of the same calculations and experiments you are. Social listening is helpful for keeping an eye on what may be working for audiences in your industry.
Pro Tip: Many brands post on the hour mark, so consider posting a few minutes before or after the :00 in order to avoid having to compete for limited shelf space.
If you have a global audience, or you yourself are based outside of the “usual” time zones (we see you, Mumbai; how you goin, Sydney?) your best time to post may well turn out to be 3 a.m.
Yes, optimizing your Instagram posts for success takes a lot of work—it’s a lot more than just choosing the right filter. But crunching the numbers once a quarter to figure out the right time to post is actually one of the easiest ways to ensure your content is making it to the right eyes. (Easier than levelling up your videography or writing skills, anyway—though we highly recommend both.)
To reap the full rewards of all this knowledge about your audience, it’s important to be systematic about your posting. While you probably won’t see a jaw-dropping bump just by posting a few hours earlier than usual every now and then, using the data consistently will move the needle over time.
It’s a virtuous circle: your audience gets in the habit of seeing your brand pop up on their feed, they enjoy your content, and they engage with it. Consistently showing up on Instagram breeds credibility, trust, and makes for a meaningful relationship.
At the end of the day, when you have an authentic connection with your audience, the algorithm notices, and so does your bottom line.