Best Times to Post on Instagram in 2021 (with Scheduling 4 Tools)
In 2012, when Facebook acquired Instagram for nearly $1 billion in cash and stock, several doubters suppose that it was a terrible mistake. However, fast forward 8 years later, the reality shows that they were wrong.
Instagram has now become the third most popular social media platform, just behind Facebook and Youtube. With such a large audience base, it can be difficult for you to stand out from the crowd.
But don’t worry! Every Instagram account has specific followers located in different time zones, so it’s essential to look for your own best times to post on Instagram. Yes, it is all about timing!
If you are struggling to find your posting times on Instagram, we are here to help you. In this guide, we shall break down the best posting times for different business niches. Besides, we also give you some common tools to schedule your posting times effectively.
Keep reading on!
Table of contents
- Why is it essential to know when to post?
- The Instagram algorithm explained
- What are the best times to post on Instagram?
- Best times to post on Instagram for technological companies
- Best times to post on Instagram for retailers and consumer goods
- Best times to post on Instagram for financial companies
- Best times to post on Instagram for educational services
- Best times to post on Instagram for healthcare services
- Best times to post on Instagram for nonprofits
- 4 key considerations when looking for the best times to post on Instagram
- 4 common tools to schedule your posting times effectively
- The bottom line
Why is it essential to know when to post?
“When are your best times to post on Instagram?”
This is a question that doesn’t let a lot of Instagrammers sleep at night. Literally!
Well, it’s a tough one, we know.
We all understand that finding your best times to post on Instagram is so crucial, as it promises to increase reach and engagement of your posts. Naturally, if you post an image or video when the majority of your audience are sleeping, chances are it will get fewer likes and comments than it would when people are awake and browsing on Instagram.
By finding your sweet spot, you can get the most likes, comments, and engagement. Ideally, this will lead to conversion rate, and generate your sales for your business.
However, we find out that the best posting time completely varies by users, depending on their audience demographic and location, so what’s more essential is finding the right time for you.
In order to explain more, we need to learn more about the Instagram algorithm in the next section.
The Instagram algorithm explained
The Instagram algorithm can be known as what decides types of posts people see every time they open their newsfeed. First of all, you should remember that Instagram is all about engagement. It is not only about likes, comments, but shares, direct messages, saves, and turning on post notifications as well - Instagram is keeping track on all of it.
Each latest update enhances the way we engage with content, and Instagram is prioritizing content that makes the audience interested and excited, based on all of this data.
When Instagram ended the chronological newsfeed, they began promoting “Probably You Will Like This Post”, as a ranking factor over “Most Recently Posted”. And, every individual person’s feed on this platform has been organized according to the algorithm’s rules.
In short, we know that the algorithm:
- Figures out how “good” content is based on engagement
- Prioritizes the “good” content to audiences who are likely to engage with it.
Here are some basic steps of how the Instagram algorithm works:
#1. When you post a video or photo on Instagram, it is not shown to all of your followers, just a small percentage. This is calculated to be as low as 10%.
#2. The algorithm then keeps track on how quickly these followers engage with your post. Hence, there is not only pressure to get likes, comments, and shares, but you are against the clock as well.
#3. It also assesses your post against the rest of the content on your feed, based on your average engagement rate and speed.
#4. If the post performance is good enough, the algorithm supposes it as “good content” that people want to see. It will be, therefore, shown to a larger percentage of your followers, and will potentially even appear on the “Explore” page.
Instagram’s new algorithm requires users to produce unique and striking content consistently in appropriate time; that’s why you need to optimize your posting time more than ever.
What are the best times to post on Instagram?
We admit that it is not easy to find the best time to post on Instagram, as there is no one-size-fits-all solution. However, with some experimentation, it is possible.
On average, many experts and online articles believe the best time to post on Instagram is from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. CDT (Central Daylight Time). However, depending on what day of the week you post, the level of engagement you can change differently.
Besides, think about the differences in your routine and daily mood and how they affect your behavior. It is also true for everybody following your Instagram account. So, below are some additional insights about optimal post timing we want to mention:
- Posting at 5 a.m., and from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. CDT during the weekdays can generate much engagement. That is because people usually check their phones right when they wake up, during lunch, or start to run out of energy at the end of the workday.
- Posting at 11 a.m. CDT on the weekends also works well, as people often eat brunch or hang out with their families and friends at that time.
And to help you easily understand, we’ve listed the best time to post on Instagram each day. Let’s have a quick look!
- Sunday: 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
- Monday: 6 a.m. to 5 p.m. (Engagement peaks at 11am and 2pm)
- Tuesday: 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.
- Wednesday: 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. (Engagement peaks at 11am)
- Thursday: 6 a.m. to 4 p.m. (Engagement peaks at 11am)
- Friday: 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.
- Saturday: 9 to 11 a.m., and 7 p.m. to 8 p.m.
In addition to considering the day of the week, you should also focus on the industry you’re in. This will help you to know more about your specific business and audiences.
Best times to post on Instagram for technological companies
- Best times: Wednesday to Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. CDT
- Best day: Wednesday
- Worst day: Sunday
In many ways, engagement opportunities are wide-open for tech companies to experiment with on Instagram. The stretch of highest overall engagement was found from Wednesday to Friday, while the lowest was on the weekends.
If you are working in tech companies that serve B2B audiences, you might sometimes think your products and services are not visually attractive enough to develop an effective Instagram strategy. You can change this by creating interesting B2B content, highlighting employee stories, and supplementing case studies with compelling photos and videos.
Besides, if you haven’t already, start designing your logo right now to develop an overall design language with unique styles and colors.
Best times to post on Instagram for retailers and consumer goods
- Best times: Wednesday to Friday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
- Best day: Wednesday
- Worst day: Sunday
Retailers and consumer goods brands can earn engagement at peak times above. However, shopping activities often dwindles in the later evening, with the lowest engagement rate found before 5 a.m. and after 9 p.m. every day.
The visual-first nature of Instagram has proven to be a perfect fit for displaying and selling products of all types. Moreover, there is a wide range of approaches that brands can use to highlight their offerings, including influencer marketing strategies to in-depth IGTV videos that help show every feature and unique selling point.
Best times to post on Instagram for financial companies
- Best times: Wednesday and Friday at 11 a.m.
- Best day: Wednesday
- Worst day: Thursday
At first glance, financial institutions might not be the ideal fit for Instagram. However, to attract more audiences, you can talk about your business and any potentially sensitive or regulated financial topics. From there, you can look at the consistent blocks of engagement on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday.
In fact, there are many ways to build a content strategy about your financial business, ranging from highlighting events and customer stories to broadening the reach of longer-form articles and video content.
Best times to post on Instagram for educational services
- Best times: Wednesday to Saturday from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.
- Best day: Friday
- Worst day: Sunday
Saturday is more active for educational organizations than other segments on Instagram, and you can find the most consistent engagement on Wednesday, Friday, or Saturday, from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Additionally, you should avoid the time frame of before 8 a.m. and after 11 p.m., as the lowest engagement starts to occur at that time.
Instagram is an effective platform for schools and universities to promote their social presence and visual branding. It will help a lot if you highlight campus life and events, and are active on Instagram Live or Instagram Stories to inform both current and prospective students about what is going on or to hold an informal Q&A.
Best times to post on Instagram for healthcare services
- Best times: Tuesday at 8 a.m.
- Best day: Tuesday
- Worst day: Saturday and Sunday
Being a regulated area with specific restrictions on sharing information, healthcare can face up with challenges in establishing a social presence. Nevertheless, there are so many available opportunities out there to connect with local communities and educate audiences about their health concerns.
Healthcare organizations should not overlook the chance to interact with audiences wherever they are, including Instagram.
Best times to post on Instagram for nonprofits
- Best times: Tuesday from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m., and Wednesday at 2 p.m.
- Best day: Wednesday
- Worst day: Sunday
In terms of engagement, non-profit organizations consistently attract a lot of audiences between Monday and Friday, between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Besides, the lowest engagement mostly falls outside of the workdays, everyday before 8 a.m. and after 9 p.m.
Non-profit organizations can promote their strategy on Instagram by sparking social conversations to tap into their robust bases of followers, supporters, and volunteers. Furthermore, they should take advantage of Instagram Live or IGTV videos to highlight their campaigns.
4 key considerations when looking for the best times to post on Instagram
1. Explore your top time zones and see when your followers are online
When exploring the best time to post on Instagram, it is necessary to think about the time zones of your Instagram followers and when they are online. In other words, if you post when your followers are online, you give your business an opportunity to be seen and engaged.
The wider the geographical location of your audience spreads, the less critical setting posting times becomes. However, if your target audiences are in one location, ensure you use that time zone for setting your Instagram posting times, even when it isn’t your own time zone.
The best way you can do to find your optimal posting time is to research your audiences by using Instagram Insights. As long as you have a Business Instagram account, you can access this Instagram analytics tool.
Instagram Insights essentially gives you the data for every post made, including demographic breakdowns, and the time of day that your posts see the most activity. By applying Instagram Insights, you can easily realize which hours on which days of the week attract the most engagement, as well as when you should avoid.
2. Consistency over frequency
Your posting frequency will depend on you or your business goals and the amount of time you can spend on Instagram marketing efforts.
However, if you make a habit of posting on Instagram several times a day and then decrease to a few times a week, you can lose followers and generate less engagement per post. So, provided you can keep up the rate of posting, there will be no drop-off in engagement for posting more.
In short, the best posting frequency means the frequency that you and your business can keep up with consistency.
3. Experiment with posting times
Testing and experimenting should become every marketer’s mantra, and Instagram is not an exception. Once you’ve known when your audience is most likely to be active, the next thing to do is to experiment with different posting times to identify the most optimal hour.
For instance, if you notice that most of your followers are active between 1 p.m. to 4 p.m., schedule your posts to appear at 1,2,3,4 p.m. then you should note the engagement rate of each post, along with the day and time of posting. Once you have enough data to evaluate, highlight time slots that show a higher engagement rate.
4. Schedule your posts
Sometimes you realize that your best time to post may fall in unavailable times. This can create inconvenience for social media managers or marketers who will have to work extra hours in order to post in the evenings and weekends, or even the middle of the night if the majority of your audiences are in a different time zone.
Scheduling your Instagram posts can bring back a lot of benefits, such as:
- Saving time. Scheduling posts in advance saves a lot of time. Then, you can focus on other essential tasks for your business.
- Managing content. Scheduling prevents any rushed or last-minute posts, and contributes to the overall quality of content.
- Managing multiple accounts. Chances are whether for hobby or work, many Instagram users manage more than one account. Maintaining regular posting and keeping engagement high across different accounts require a lot of work. And this is where scheduling comes in to save your day.
- Organizing your feed. The best Instagram accounts have an awesome newsfeed aesthetic. And scheduling is an effective way to visually organize your feed.
4 common tools to schedule your posting times effectively
Now, in this last section, to help you nail down your personal best times to post on Instagram, we’ll introduce 4 common tools. While Instagram Insights provides a great amount of useful information for you to promote your Insta-presence, the following tools will help you smooth the process of managing your Instagram account and posts.
While you can use Later for other social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter, later provides a wide variety of benefits for all Instagram users.
With their auto-posting function, Later adds their Link.in bio function that connects directly the photos of your posts with links such as your business online store. Later can play an invaluable part in keeping up your posts even when you are away from your phone.
Besides, the preview feature allows you to see the big picture and plan out the aesthetics of your newsfeed before you post them on Instagram. You just need to drag and drop your post onto the specific time that you’ like it to be posted.
Later provides a $0, Free Forever Plan, which enables you to schedule up to 30 posts with no video or carousel post for one Instagram account per month. But in case you want to manage more than one social media profile, or schedule more than 30 posts every month, you can refer to their paid options that start at $9 per month.
2. Sprout Social’s ViralPost
For a more robust tool in terms of functionality, Sprout Social’s ViralPost could be a way for you to go. Like many tools, ViralPost gives you a free trial to get you started. It allows you to evaluate if the interface and functionalities meet your expectations.
This tool regularly analyzes the data of your audiences, and detects the most active times for authentic engagement and rates by using a star system. For instance, if five stars at 1 p.m., go on and publish. If only one star at 5 a.m., it might be better to hold off.
If you are just starting from scratch, there is a standard service that costs $59 per month instead of using the basic plan that starts at $99 each month. The more expensive plans allow you to add more social profiles, such as 5 for the standard plan.
If you would like to manage multiple social media channels, as well as automate your Instagram posting, you should consider using Hootsuite.
Hootsuite works more like a personal assistant than as an Instagram management tool. Rather than schedule and auto-publish posts, you can also explore relevant hashtags to add to your posts for an extra boost.
Hootsuite provides a free account option for 3 social media profiles with the capability of scheduling up to 30 posts each month. But if you want to schedule more posts or social profiles, you can upgrade to the Professional Plan for $19 per month.
Buffer also allows you to post-schedule, but its outstanding appeal point is its facilitation for teamwork. You are able to add up to 25 team members to this tool and give different levels of access to different features within the application.
As a perfect choice for the mid-size marketing team, Buffer combines both the essentials of managing content on Instagram and the facilitation of teamwork. You can learn more about its pricing plans on its website or in this screenshot below.
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The bottom line
Instagram is an amazing channel for businesses to achieve their marketing goals, but it is not simple to post your content whenever you feel like it anymore.
By understanding the best times to post on Instagram, as well as planning and scheduling your posts in advance, you can boost your audience engagement rate, drive your traffic, and attract more new followers and customers.