So, you’ve got your business Instagram up and running, you’ve planned out some killer content, and you’ve maybe even amassed a nice following. Yet, you’re still not seeing the level of engagement you want. It may not be what you’re posting, but rather when you’re posting it.
Do not put in all the work to create a content strategy only to get lazy when it comes to one of the most important elements: time. This article will take a closer look at ideal posting times, the importance of getting these times right, and a few tools to get you started.
Why Worry About Time?
You may be thinking, “Instagram’s home page isn’t even sorted by time, so why should time matter?” Instagram’s new algorithm isn’t guaranteed to put your post at the top of your followers’ feeds, but picking the right time makes it more likely.
Instagram’s algorithm is complex but based on a simple concept: it evaluates how ‘good’ content is and then it prioritizes that ‘good’ content to users who are likely to engage with it. Your initial post is only shown to a small number of your followers. Instagram then tracks how quickly those followers engage with your post and compares it against the rest of your feed’s content. Posting at the right time is crucial for immediate engagement, and immediate engagement leads Instagram to show your post higher up on feeds and to a larger percentage of your audience. So, to get that long-lasting reach you want, it’s important to post at the right time.
But What Time is Right?
Well, it depends. Ideal posting times not only vary from platform to platform, but they also vary from user to user.
To get you started, you can utilize a general posting schedule based on 25 studies completed by CoSchedule. Times vary by business type, but you can notice some common themes: users’ morning commutes, lunch hours, end of workdays, and bedtime scrolling. Regardless of the type of business, Friday was recorded as the most active day.
While these general times may work for many, they might not be right for you. You need to do your due diligence in market research to know when your target audience is both active AND engaged.
A quick and easy way to do this is within the Instagram app itself. All you need to do is click on the Insights on your profile, navigate to the Audience portion, and scroll down to the bottom. There you will find your specific followers most active times broken down into days and hours.
Take a look at my account’s audience activity:
While my audience follows the usual morning, lunch, leaving work, and bedtime scrolling routine, it actually peaks on Tuesdays at 3pm. And unlike the general peak posting day, my Fridays are the least active.
Having this knowledge has enabled me to implement time strategy into my content plan. While my account shows the most audience activity on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Sundays, I’ve been experimenting with various days to see what works best. Regardless of the day, I make sure to post at an hour that is the most appropriate for my audience. I recognize my audience comes from a variety of different time zones, so I try to focus on midday EST content to ensure all of my followers are awake. I’ve noticed a big improvement in engagement just from being more conscious about these posting times.
A Deeper Dive
The simplistic colored bars of Instagram’s internal analytics are not enough to give you the full picture. You want to see actual figures, demographic breakdowns, engagement rates, hour-by-hour increments, etc. A deeper dive into audience analytics data can give you just that.
Most good social media management tools will give you insight into your audience, suggest ideal posting times, and even post for you.
Hopper HQ is one great example, and it even touts itself as the #1 Instagram scheduling tool. Hopper HQ shows all of your past posts, when they were posted, and whether or not they were successful. The company also displays current audience data, providing posting time suggestions based on audience numbers, engagement, and type of content. Hopper HQ also allows for scheduled posts so that life doesn’t get in the way of peak posting. Using all of these tools, a company can learn from its past, know its present, and plan for its future.
No matter how creative and meaningful a post may be, it does not serve its purpose if it is not seen. Posting at the ideal time increases the odds that more eyeballs will be on the content you’ve been working so hard to create. More eyeballs lead to more brand awareness, engagement, and sales. You can generalize, you can utilize your free internal Instagram Insights, or you can maximize analytics with a social media management tool. With all of these options at your disposal, there is no excuse to miss the mark.