Posting when your audience isn’t online, on any of the social media platforms, means a large percentage of them will never see your posts. To make things worse, Instagram’s algorithm is constantly changing. Plus, it pushes engagement-heavy posts to the top of the feed, leaving less popular posts unseen.
If you’re not getting the engagement levels you want on Instagram (or, even worse, you’re greeted by crickets) you might be posting at the wrong time.
To uncover the best time to post on Instagram, many businesses have surveyed engagement metrics for millions of Instagram posts across the globe. But the truth is that it really depends on your industry, Instagram audience, timezone, and content. Below, we’ve consolidated that research to bring you a guide for the best times to post on Instagram for 2023.
Best times to post on Instagram (in your local time zone)
- Monday: 5 a.m., 11 a.m., 1 p.m.
- Tuesday: 9 a.m., 1 p.m., 2 p.m.
- Wednesday: 5 a.m., 9 a.m., 11 a.m.
- Thursday: 5 a.m. to 6 a.m., 11a.m. to 1 p.m.
- Friday: 7 a.m., 11 a.m., 2 p.m.
- Saturday: 9 a.m.
- Sunday: 1 a.m., 7 a.m., 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Based on research from Hootsuite, Later, Influencer Marketing Hub, Sprout Social, and Search Engine Journal, the above times are the ones that appeared the most frequently. For the purpose of this article, “most frequently” means at least two of the five publications noted the time as a “highest engagement” or “high engagement” time to post on Instagram.
Considerations for the best time to post on Instagram
Before you go ahead and schedule all of your content to go out at the times listed above, you also need to consider your target audience and your content intent. Optimize your Instagram bio to speak to your ideal reader. Take into account people’s daily habits and schedules (like wake up time or when folks eat lunch), what kind of content you put out, past data from your own Instagram account, and your target audience’s habits.
If you’re a juice brand using Instagram marketing to promote your new breakfast smoothie, for example, catching Instagram users 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.
For global brands however, situational considerations may be less of a concern. Later, a social media management tool, claims that early morning posts perform best based on its team’s analysis of more than 11 million Instagram posts. This tactic makes sense if you hope to reach your target audience across many sweeping time zones.
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.
It's better to have 1,000 engaged fans than 10,000 followers when you want to optimize for sales.
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 in the early morning, when people are just waking up and reaching for their mobile devices, when people go on lunch breaks, and during evenings when people are scrolling through their phones after work.
Posting in the early morning on most weekdays gives you a good chance of popping up in a user’s Instagram feed 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.
Further reading: How Often You Should Post on Instagram?
Is it better to post on Instagram at night or in the morning?
Based on the above best times to post on Instagram, it’s best to post on Instagram in the morning.
But, remember that averages don’t necessarily reflect your target audience’s habits or your niche. For example, you might be a yoga brand that gets high engagement off posting Friday night Instagram Reels of different restorative yoga routines. While Friday night isn’t a great time to post based on general averages, it might be just the ticket for your brand.
Research might show that morning posts generate more engagement, but your brand might be the outlier.
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.
For example, your sandwich shop might share a daily lunch special on Instagram stories. Posting before the lunch hour will probably get the best results. Post in the afternoon or evening, and you’ll be too late for those mid-morning grumbling stomachs.
When should you not post on Instagram?
According to Later, the worst time to post is on Saturday. Later’s research found that Instagram posts get the least amount of engagement on Saturdays.
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.
That’s why it’s essential to do your own research to figure out when the best time to post on Instagram is for your own audience. Beyond that, remember that while Instagram has become a great place to sell your products and engage potential customers, not everyone is looking to shop on social media all the time.
“It’s really important to remember,” Taylor Loren says in an edited excerpt from the course How to Make Money on Instagram, “that while Instagram can be a great sales channel, that isn’t its only purpose. Building an engaged and active community should still be your number one priority.”
It's really important to remember that while Instagram can be a great sales channel, that isn't its only purpose. Building an engaged and active community should still be your number one priority.
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 insights 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 time zone (for example, if 75% of your audience is in New York, you can schedule your posts in the eastern time zone, 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 own audience is most active, so you can post compelling content when they’re online.
Instagram’s analytics tool also shows you the performance of each post, so you can start tracking it based on time and day posted and type of content shared.
Take note of your competitors’ social media strategy
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. 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 and 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 Instagram 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 Instagram 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 likely not on people’s minds.
When choosing the best times to post, consider:
- What the content is of each post
- 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, for example, shares tips for a deeper sleep. It might perform best in the afternoons or early evenings, when its followers are just starting to think about their night time routine.
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 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 periods, 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.
- Consumer goods: Sunday (3 p.m. to 4 p.m.)
- Finance: Wednesday (6 a.m.)
- Media and entertainment: Tuesday (10 a.m. to 11 a.m.)
- Tech: Wednesday (8 a.m.), Friday (10 a.m.)
- Non-profit: Wednesday (9 a.m. - 3 p.m.), Sunday (9 a.m.)
- Education: Tuesday (10 a.m.)
- Healthcare: Thursday (7 a.m.)
- Travel and tourism: Wednesday (12 p.m.)
- Restaurants: Wednesday (10 a.m. - 12 p.m.)
- Hospitality: Thursday (11a.m.), Friday (10 a.m. and 3 p.m.)
Maximize your posting schedule by finding the best time to post on Instagram
The best time for you to post on your Instagram account 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. Finally, post regularly and run your own posting experiments and continue to track, measure, and tweak your schedule to ensure engagement levels remain high throughout the year.