If you’re not getting the engagement levels you want on social media (or, even worse, you’re greeted by crickets) you might be posting on Instagram at the wrong time.
Why does it matter? Because Instagram’s algorithm is constantly changing and now pushes engagement-heavy posts to the top of the feed. Posting when your audience isn’t online means a large percentage of them may never see your posts.
Later’s analysis of 35 million global Instagram posts has boiled this information down to a very specific timeframe, but the truth is that it really depends on your industry, Instagram audience, timezone, and content.
The best time to post on Instagram is early in the morning on a Saturday around 11am or Sunday around 7am.
Best times to post on Instagram
- Monday: 6am, 10am, 10pm
- Tuesday: 2am, 4am, 9am
- Wednesday: 7am, 8am, 11pm
- Thursday: 9am, 12pm, 7pm
- Friday: 5am, 1pm, 3pm
- Saturday: 11am, 7pm, 8pm
- Sunday: 7am, 8am, 4pm
Before you go ahead and schedule all of your content to go out at 6 a.m. on the weekend, it’s important to consider your audience and your content intent.
If you’re a juice brand using Instagram marketing to promote your new breakfast smoothie, catching consumers when they wake up is a good tactic. But if you’re selling stationery subscriptions to enterprise companies, you might find your 6 a.m. Saturday posts fall flat, because no one’s thinking about business on their day off.
According to Later.com, the worst time to post is on Wednesdays between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. and Thursdays between 9 p.m. and 11 p.m.
What is the best time overall to post on Instagram?
The best posting times and the best day of the week is when your audience is most likely to be online.
Generally, this will mean early mornings when people are just waking up and reaching for their mobiles, lunch breaks, and evenings when people are scrolling through their phones after work.
Posting before 8 a.m. gives you a good chance of popping up on users’ Instagram feeds when they first open the app. But if you’re targeting professionals or B2B brands with business Instagram accounts, you might have better luck posting at lunchtime or during the working day to catch their attention while their mind’s on the job.
- 6 a.m. local time is the best time to post on Instagram
- Posts that go live at 6 a.m. on a Sunday have the highest engagement levels
- The best days to post on Instagram are Saturday and Sunday
The caveat is that Later’s research studied posts from brands with wildly different audiences who would have been active and more engaged at different points throughout the day.
Is it better to post on Instagram at night or in the morning?
The answer is: it depends. If most of your audience is thinking about—or buying—your product in the morning, then it makes the most sense to post then, and vice versa.
It’s also worth remembering that averages lie.
Research might show that morning posts generate more engagement, but your brand might be the outlier. For example, Later’s study revealed that 6 a.m. is the optimal time for posting, but that’s an average gathered from 35 million posts. Your posts (or your industry’s posts) might be the ones that see the most success at 9 p.m. at night.
While it might not make a huge amount of difference in engagement levels if you post in the morning versus the evening, you want your message to reach the right people at the right time. This is why it’s important to consider the content of your posts too.
It's better to have 1,000 engaged fans than 10,000 followers when you want to optimize for sales.
Sharing a lunchtime sandwich special? Posting before people have had their lunch will probably get the best results. Post in the afternoon or evening, and you’ll be too late for those mid-morning grumbling stomachs and you might be forgotten by the following day.
When should you not post on Instagram?
Later’s research found that Instagram posts get the least amount of engagement on Wednesdays and Thursdays, but this doesn’t necessarily make them the worst day to post.
The research doesn’t highlight what industries were included in the research, which can skew the results in favor of certain products and brand categories. While it might be tempting to think that consumers only scroll Instagram in their spare time, this is a huge assumption. In fact, people might be actively looking for a distraction at work.
On the flipside, if you’re targeting B2B brands, your audience may not be paying attention to work-related content during their downtime. They will scroll past content on Sunday morning that they may engage with on Wednesday afternoon, so it’s important to figure out when the best time to post on Instagram is for you.
How to figure out the best time to post on Instagram (for your brand and industry)
You can use the results from secondary research as a starting point for choosing when to post on Instagram, but it should be just that: a starting point.
These supposed “best times” are based on a large number of posts to generate an average that may not be the “best time” for every type of brand. You might quickly find that the 6 a.m. time slot doesn’t work for you, but at least you’ve tried it and can cross it off as a good time to post.
Use Instagram analytics to understand your followers
If you have an Instagram business account, you can see the demographics of your followers, including their age, gender, and location. This will help you schedule your posts in the right timezone (for example, if 75% of your audience is in New York, you can schedule your posts on Eastern time, even if your brand is based in California), but these Instagram insights also reveal when your followers are online.
This data is useful for uncovering the specific times your audience is most active so you can post compelling content when they’re online.
Spy on your competitors
Below we detail the best times to post on Instagram for different industries but, again, this is based on averages from a large amount of data. Industries are incredibly varied—for example, the retail industry includes everything from B2B subscription companies to baby clothes, both of which have very different audiences.
It can help to focus on your main competitors and identify the times that they post. Cherry pick three or four brands that are similar to yours or have a similar audience and notice the times they post as well as the posts that get the highest engagement levels.
If you don’t want to dig into this manually, there are apps that can help. NapoleonCat lets you analyze competitor posts by the number of comments, likes, and engagement rate, and shows you when these posts were published.
Preview does a similar thing. It lets you “track” your competitors and shows the most common time they post, as well as when they get the most interaction. You can see the most popular hashtags your competitors use and search those for more posting inspiration.
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Experiment with posting at different times
Finding the best time to post on Instagram is often a case of trial and error. What works one week might not work the next, so it’s important to keep experimenting until you find a time that generates consistent results.
Use Instagram’s analytics tool to see which posts perform best, or manually carry out the research with a spreadsheet.
If on the first week you post at 5 p.m. on Monday, change it to 6 p.m. on the second week. When you’ve found the times that get the most Instagram engagement, run the experiment again to prove that theory and make sure the initial results weren’t just a fluke.
Consider the content of your posts
The content of your Instagram posts will likely have a bigger impact than time alone—terrible posts will perform terribly at all times; incredible posts will probably perform incredibly at all times. What you post will also impact engagement levels throughout the day.
For example, if your content contains or promotes something that people tend to do in the evenings, then it may land best in the late afternoon or evening. A wine company showcasing their latest bottle might have better luck posting on Instagram on a Friday or Saturday evening rather than a Monday morning, when a glass of wine is probably not on people’s minds.
When choosing the best times to post certain content, consider:
- What exactly it is you’re promoting
- The goal of your Instagram post (To inspire? To encourage a purchase? To raise brand awareness)
- When this content might be most useful for your followers
Sharing an art print with an inspiring quote? Try posting on a Monday morning when people might need a hearty dose of inspiration to kick off their week.
This post from Loftie is part of its #wakeuphere series and might land best in the mornings, when its followers want some inspiration first thing.
Schedule posts for prime times (and tweak as necessary)
You’re not always going to be online when your followers are. But, if your post’s success depends on you being around to engage with commenters, that alone could narrow the windows in which you plan to post.
If your post isn’t reliant on you being around, you can use scheduling tools to schedule your posts to go out at those times. The more consistent you are with your posting schedule, the easier it is to see whether the times you’ve chosen are working well or whether there’s room for improvement.
Monitoring how your social media posts are doing is crucial for generating maximum engagement levels, and it’s important that you track, measure, and tweak throughout the year. Something that performs well in summer at 8 a.m. on a Saturday may not get the same results at 8 a.m. on a Saturday in the middle of winter.
So, while you should research the right times to schedule your posts during high engagement times, the process ideally should be fluid. Continue to measure results and experiment with different posting times as you attract more followers and start promoting different products and different times of the year.
What is the best time to post on Instagram for different industries?
This research conducted by Sprout Social shows the optimum times for posting on Instagram in different industries. Bear in mind that the results incorporate the posting schedules of over 20,000 brands and that the industries listed have many different niches and segments.
These posting times can work as a good starting point for your own research if you have no idea where to even begin, but again, they should only act as a starting point.
- Retail: Wednesday (3 p.m.) and Friday (11 a.m.–12 p.m.)
- Media and entertainment: Friday (9 a.m.)
- Tech: Wednesday (6 a.m. and 9 a.m.)
- Non-profit: Wednesday (2 p.m.)
- Education: Friday (10 a.m.)
- Health care: Tuesday (8 a.m.)
- Professional services: Every day (9 a.m.–10 p.m.)
- Food and beverage: Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday (12 p.m.)
- Travel and tourism: Friday, Tuesday, Wednesday (11 a.m.–1 p.m. and 9 a.m.–10 a.m.)
Maximize your posting schedule by finding the best time to post on Instagram
Weekends at 6 a.m. might be the average “best time” to post on Instagram, but this is an average taken from millions of posts and thousands of brands. The best time for you to post depends on your target audience, your content, your industry, and the intent of your posts, all of which can be revealed by carrying out your own research and experiments.
Start by learning who your followers are through Instagram analytics, then dissect the posting times of your biggest competitors to figure out what works for your corner of the industry you’re in. Finally, run your own posting experiments and continue to track, measure, and tweak your schedule to ensure engagement levels remain high throughout the year.