Figuring out how often to post on Instagram is the pillar of any strategy for the platform. It’s also a balancing act. You don’t want to post so little that no one sees your content, but you also don’t want to post so much that Instagram thinks you’re a spam account. On top of that, you also have to consider how much time and energy you realistically have to dedicate to the platform.
Whether you have a social media team or you’re a mighty entrepreneurial team of one, we have advice on how often you should post on Instagram as you build your social media marketing strategy.
I looked at what Instagram has posted publicly, checked out Shopify’s own strategy, and talked to a merchant at the top of their game to get the best advice for how often to post on Instagram.
How Often Should You Post on Instagram
It's recommended to post 3 stories a day evenly spaced out around popular viewing times for your target audience.
As I said, Instagram isn’t particularly forthcoming with tips on how to optimize your strategy for its algorithm, but it has occasionally given some advice.
Instagram’s @Creators account hosted a Q&A with the Head of Instagram, Adam Mosseri, where he was asked the best way to grow an account in 2021.
“A couple of feeds a week, a couple of Stories per day.”
He mentioned the importance of utilizing videos and hashtags, but he also said it’s important to have a “healthy feed.”
“A couple of feeds a week, a couple of Stories per day,” he said.
By that suggestion, you can take away that while your feed is important, posting more frequently to your Story is also valuable, maybe even more so.
It’s a great pace to aim for and one that allows room for experimentation.
Adam also talked about ranking, which is how Instagram decides what it shows its users. According to a blog post he wrote in June 2021, there isn’t actually a single algorithm determining how Instagram shows content but “a variety of algorithms, classifiers, and processes, each with its own purpose.” That system looks at information such as how many likes a post has, what your Instagram bio says about you, and how many times a user has interacted with your account in the past.
It’s a system that is constantly being tweaked, which can be frustrating for brands.
“We can’t guarantee stable reach. It’s not that we don’t want to, we would love to,” Adam said in the Q&A. “But even if we stopped changing how ranking works, what people are interested in changes. More and more people are joining Instagram and posting more things, so there’s more competition.”
That goes back to Adam’s advice, which, in essence, is to be consistent in your posting strategy.
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Get into a consistent rhythm
The most important piece of advice for when to post on Instagram is that consistency is more important than volume, especially as you start out.
It can be easy to forget when you're navigating through Instagram, or your favorite brands that you regularly check in on, started at zero. There was a moment for each of us where we had zero followers, lacks comments or a plan.
According to research from Hubspot, the median cadence of feed postsa across Instagram users was four per week. However this is higher for business accounts, which posted an average of 1.56 times per day to their main feed. As well, 20% of business accounts posted to their Story at least once per week.
Combining this research with Adam’s comments, we can ascertain that posting one feed post and two Stories per day is a pretty good bet for growing your engagement. Whether you are able to start at that pace depends on how much time, experience, and personnel you have.
Instead of jumping into the deep end right away, you should focus on a consistent posting schedule that makes sense for you and your business where they are right now.
At Shopify, our social team noticed a marked rise in engagement from posting once per day.
That can sound daunting, especially if you’re handling all your social accounts on top of all the other work it takes to keep a business running.
Here are some tips to get your rhythm going.
Start with what’s do-able
Instead of jumping into the deep end right away, you should focus on a consistent posting schedule that makes sense for you and your business where they are right now. That might look more like three feed posts per week and three Stories per week.
Create a schedule
However much you’re posting, you want to spread them out. A good idea is to schedule days. For example, maybe you post a feed photo on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, and a Story on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday.
Spreading posts out not only pleases the algorithm but gives your audience an expectation of when new content is coming and gives each post breathing room so they’re not competing with each other for likes and comments.
Streamline with apps
To make this all easier, you can use Instagram management apps like Sked, Later, or Hootsuite to schedule posts in advance. That way, you can create your posts in bulk ahead of time and not have to worry about checking in and coming up with new content every day. And keep it up—dropping off for a week or two isn’t the end of the world but could potentially lower your ranking in Instagram’s eyes because it also rewards how recent a post is.
As you get more comfortable with scheduling and coming up with high-quality post ideas, you can increase your cadence and aim for daily content.
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How Wilderdog grew its Instagram audience
Rachel Friedline is the co-founder of Wilderdog, a company that makes leashes, harnesses, and other accessories for dogs who love outdoor adventures. Founded in 2015, Rachel launched an Instagram page for Wilderdog right away, knowing it would be a key part of her social media marketing strategy.
Since then, Rachel has grown the account to 292,000 followers, and she’s done it by herself, running the page along with her business.
Right now, Rachel aims to post one feed post per day, although she has missed a day here and there. She saves high-quality photos, whether her own or from a customer, for the feed, taking care to include a variety of dog types.
“I don’t think there’s very many times in our seven year history that I’ve posted more than once on one day,” she says.
On her Story, which she updates more frequently, she posts more casual content, like sharing posts from customers. She’s built a customer base that loves to tag her company in photos of their dogs, so the Story is a good place to post ones that are particularly funny or encapsulate her brand.
“I think that by making mistakes along the way, you’re going to figure out what’s best for your company."
Her biggest tip for other entrepreneurs is to just keep posting and experimenting.
“The culture surrounding the app seems to be changing faster than ever now,” she says. “Yes, strategize, but also be willing to change your strategy.”
She says that even she is surprised when sometimes a post she thinks is great doesn’t get much engagement. It may be the algorithm at work, but you can use it to your advantage, too.
Because she uses the app every day, Rachel was able to notice when Reels were picking up steam and post more of those. Or, once she noticed posts tagged with shoppable items were doing better, so she leaned into that. She was able to build her audience by posting consistently, but switching up exactly what she was posting.
“I think that by making mistakes along the way, you’re going to figure out what’s best for your company,” she says.
Consistency is king when it comes to how often to post on Instagram, and that applies to more than just your posting cadence.
Creating and maintaining a posting rhythm will build a habit for you or your team, let your audience know when to expect news posts, and keep you in tune with trends and your own metrics. Plus, the more you’re able to post, the more room you have to experiment.
The key to growing on Instagram is to consistently provide high-quality content that people love interacting with. Exactly what that content will be depends on your business and what resonates with your customers, and you need to be prepared for it to change sometimes.
“I do think one of the most important things is to experiment, is to try new things and try to figure out what’s resonating with your audience now. Because it might be different than it was half a year or a year ago,” Adam said in the Instagram Q&A.
Experimenting with new formats, like video, as well as using hashtags, thoughtful captions, and geotagging locations can all help boost your content.
Keep an eye on your metrics and monitor what works, what doesn’t, and what your customers respond to most.
Illustration by Adamastor