Whether you’re a fly-fishing guide, a prodigy on the piano or you’ve made a career out of traveling the world, being an expert in your industry means that people look to you for advice on where to go, what to buy and how to step up their own game. Social media has made it easier to connect with hundreds, thousands, even millions of people who want to follow your story.
But let’s face it, while it may be a dream to get paid to travel the world and post beautiful shots to Instagram, few people truly make posting on Instagram their career. But just because it may not pan out as your full-time job doesn’t mean you can’t optimize your posts to reach the maximum amount of your followers.
Without question, Instagram is one of the most important places to build a social presence. More than 1.1 billion people around the globe use Instagram—with more than 500 million checking in every day. To make the most of your social media strategy, you should know when your Instagram posts will be the most effective.
If you consider your own work week, you’ll know that your routine and daily mood may shift from day to day. These subtle changes can affect when and how you engage on social media platforms.
Many active social media users check their phones first thing when they wake up during the work week. Monday morning is often a bit too hectic; that’s why an early morning posting time Tuesday to Friday tends to generate higher engagement.
During mid-day lunch hour, people are also apt to check in on media platforms. And late afternoon is another peak time, since people’s mental energy starts to fade, and social networking can provide a welcome respite.
Saturday morning is another prime time with lots of traffic on Instagram. Many people are relaxed, or they may be out enjoying time with friends and family. This makes some people want to connect through social media—and can make them more likely to view your content.
Know the Best Time to Post on Instagram Each Day and Study the Trends of Your Industry
While these general posting times are a good starting point, it’s essential to establish your social media brand strategy so you can target your specific audience and industry with your social content. Industries such as technology, healthcare, travel and tourism, media and entertainment, and education—as well as non-profit organizations—all have different peak times.
If you want to reach your target audience in your industry, you should seek out relevant data to make the right decisions. This way, you can be aware of the best day and time to post on Instagram and make the most of your social media promotion budget.
Understand How Instagram’s Algorithm Impacts Your Views
When considering the best time to post to Instagram, you should understand how Instagram’s algorithm affects what people see. Instagram’s algorithm focuses on “recency,” so new posts are most likely to appear in users’ feeds. This means your goal should be to ensure your posts are “recent” when your target users are most likely to be visiting Instagram.
Instagram’s algorithm also evaluates the engagement of each post when determining whether to present it to your audiences. If you know the best time to post on Instagram, you can help foster engagement and help each Instagram post reach all your audience segments.
Do Time Zones Matter?
In short, yes. If your primary audience lives in a specific region, such as the East Coast, be sure to use the suggested times of their local time zone.
Likewise, if you know you are catering to a non-U.S. audience, you should take their time zones into account. Even if your audience is widespread across multiple time zones, you can still follow the same essential guide to decide when to post on Instagram and build strong connections with all your followers.
For example, you may want to post to Instagram at the common wake-up time, schedule another post during mid-day, and schedule one or more in the late afternoon in your target time zone. If you’re audience spans multiple time zones, you may be able to have some social media posts do “double duty.” This means they can work as a wake-up post in one time zone and a mid-afternoon post in another.
If this sounds complicated, you should know that there are tools that can help determine the best time to post on Instagram. There are built-in Instagram tools you can use—and other third-party tools are available, too. With some research, you can determine the right tool, or mix of tools to understand the best time to post on Instagram, while measuring and managing your Instagram outreach efforts.
How to Find Out When Your Audience Is Most Active
If you have an Instagram business account, you can use Instagram Insights to analyze your follower demographics, engagement, and activity trends. Just as Google Analytics helps businesses make informed decisions, the Instagram Insights analytics tool can help you make smart decisions about the best time to post on Instagram for your unique audience.
You can access your personalized Instagram Insights data on your account page in the Instagram app. Simply tap on the bar graph icon near the top of the screen. You can also see data for individual posts and Instagram stories.
On your Insights home page, you’ll see data for your Instagram activity over the past week. You’ll see how many posts you’ve created and how many followers you’ve gained or lost. As you scroll down, you’ll see graphs that provide insight on follower activity. For example, you can find impressions—the number of views of your content—and see how many likes and comments each post receives. These insights help you understand the type of content that resonates with your audience; and can gauge the success of your social influencer and brand ambassador campaigns.
Also, the Instagram Insights Followers section provides you key information on when your audience is most active on the social network. You can view a graph that shows when your followers are most active online each day and another that shows which days your followers are online.
Using these graphs, you can start to discern patterns of Instagram activity for your key audiences. You’ll see times and days of high usage and learn the best times to reach your followers through targeted posting strategies.
It’s important to keep a close watch on your Instagram Insights trends. As your audience grows, their peak activity times will likely shift as well. Be sure to adapt when you notice changes in peak engagement times. You don’t want to time your posts based on old data and miss connecting with your Instagram community as it grows and continues to develop.
Instagram Insights also offers valuable insights into the performance of individual posts and stories. You can find details on impressions, comments, likes, and shares that can tell you what type of content resonates well with your audience. These insights can help you gauge the success of your social influencer and brand ambassador campaigns. Connecting with your target audience is more important than ever. Measuring engagement, shares and positive comments from your micro-brand experts can help you identify strong brand representatives to fuel genuine product adoption and usage. Leveraging their unique view of the product and expertise using the product you can generate real product recommendations, not fleeting and fickle celebrity endorsements that often hijack your messaging and business growth.
How and Why You Should Schedule Instagram Posts
We know, it sounds like a lot of work. And honestly, maintaining relevance and engagement on Instagram does require some research and effort. But great news! You don’t to tend your account 24/7 in order to reach your audience. Instead, you can use scheduling tools to create and stage posts for your Instagram account.
You’ll find that many Instagram scheduling tools are easy-to-use and very user-friendly. Some focus exclusively on scheduling, while others have built-in audience analysis features. With these handy features, you can gain insight on audience activity and engagement, along with recommendations for best posting times.
This can cut down on the amount of manual analysis you need to do, allowing you to focus on creating high-quality content with strong audience appeal. And it will help you always know the best time to post on Instagram to cater to your followers.
By scheduling your social posts, you can streamline your social media marketing efforts. Instead of logging in to each network and posting each day, you can bulk schedule posts ahead of time—sometimes weeks or months in advance. This lets you maintain an active and fresh social presence with significantly less effort. Also, if you create high-value content—like Instagram videos—you can schedule them at peak times for the widest possible viewership.
Another advantage of using scheduling tools is that they make it easy to repurpose content. You can take a post that performed well on Instagram and share it on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn or other social channels. Or you can set up multi-layered campaigns across multiple networks that drive your audience to take action—such as taking advantage of a special offer, attending a webinar, or signing up for your email list.
Top Instagram Scheduling Tools to Consider
Here are seven top Instagram scheduling tools that you may want to consider. While some have free starter plans, you may need to opt for a paid business plan for best results. Often, tools like these offer a free short-term trial. Be sure to take advantage of those “try before you buy” opportunities to get a feel for several tools and decide which is the best fit for your needs.
- Autogrammer: Through Autogrammer, you can schedule content across three major social platforms: Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. You can also bulk-upload and edit images.
- Buffer: With Buffer, you can schedule posts across six social networks. It also features browser extensions and a mobile app to help with staging content.
- Hubspot: A multi-facet platform, Hubspot includes social scheduling and other resources to support business growth.
- Later: An Instagram-only tool, Later features drag-and-drop scheduling and an easy-to-understand calendar interface.
- Schedugram: With Schedugram, you get a post scheduler and photo editor, all in one.
- Sprout Social: A sophisticated social media calendar for businesses, Sprout Social lets you schedule posts and measure user engagement. Also, the tool has social listening features that help you identify commenting trends across your social footprint so you can include hot topics in your content planning.
- Tailwind: Catering to bloggers and small businesses, Tailwind helps you post to Instagram and Pinterest. It also supports hashtag research and bulk image uploading.
How to Schedule Instagram Posts
The software you choose for scheduling your Instagram post will provide specific, step-by-step instructions. Before you can start scheduling posts, you’ll need to establish an account with a third-party tool and link it to your Instagram account. Processes across each third-party tool will vary somewhat, but you can still expect to follow certain essential steps:
- Create an Account
Once you’ve selected a post scheduling tool, you’ll need to create an account. Typically, this step requires you to provide an email address, password and personal identifying information. If you select a paid plan, you’ll need to add credit card information for billing.
- Select a Plan
Instagram tools typically offer several plans. If only one person will be managing your Instagram account, a basic plan might fit your needs. Often these base level plans are free or low cost.
If you have more complex needs or will have multiple parties managing your account, a paid or premium account may be preferred. These can be a good choice if you need to post across several social networks or want to take advantage of sophisticated audience analysis features.
- Connect Your Instagram Accounts
After registering with your chosen software, you’ll need to connect your business accounts. Your software tools should provide you clear guidance during this step. Often, this process asks you to provide your Instagram account name and password and authorize the connection between your Instagram account and the third-party tool. You may need to follow additional steps for an Instagram business account.
- Verify Your Account
Your software provider may ask you to take additional steps to verify your account. In many cases, you’ll receive an email with a special verification link to confirm these details. After you follow the appropriate steps, you may receive a follow-up email confirming that you are ready to schedule posts on Instagram.
- Upload and Prepare Your Instagram Posts
Third-party Instagram scheduling tools typically offer you a personal dashboard where you can schedule your content. You may see options to create new posts or bulk upload content or files from your computer, Google Drive, or Dropbox, or other sources. In addition, you may be able to edit photos and videos, write captions, or add first comments to your schedule posts. Some tools let you research and add hashtags and decorate your posts with emojis to boost their visual appeal.
- Schedule Your Posts
Once you’re satisfied with your captions, photos and videos, you’re ready to schedule your post. Some tools let you select “post now,” which sends the post to your Instagram account right away and other tools allow you to send them in chronological order. You can also select a date and time for a future post. At this point, your content is placed into a queue and will automatically post to your Instagram account at the correct time.
With some tools, you may have the option to drag-and-drop content if you want to adjust the timing of scheduled posts. Other tools may have a preview of your Instagram account page. This helps you visualize the appearance of your Instagram page and perfect your aesthetic.
How Often Should You Post on Instagram?
Posting on social media sites regularly is necessary to grow your following and keep your messages in front of your audience. If you want to keep your Instagram feed vibrant and engaging, you can follow the lead of major brands. Research has found that top-name companies post on Instagram an average of 1.5 times per day.
What does this mean for you? Aim for one to three Instagram posts each day. Remember that it’s critical to keep up your posting cadence once you’ve established a rhythm. Consider what would happen if you posted three days per week and grew a following then scaled back to one or two times per week. Your audience would likely lose interest, and you’d see a sharp drop in engagement.
To avoid this problem, it’s better to start at a slower pace. If three times per week is manageable at first, start there and plan to grow over time. Always focus on quality over quantity. You’ll win more engagement with outstanding photos and clever captions than by flooding your account with subpar content.
To sum up, identify the posting frequency you can manage—and do an exceptional job with every post. You can always add more posts as you master the nuances of your Instagram scheduling tool and grow more comfortable with sourcing and creating content. If you’ve created strong content from the outset, your audience will be happy to see more frequent posts from you.
What Photos and Images Should You Post on Instagram?
The most obvious answers are images and content that your followers will find interesting. That’s easier said than done, but here are some guidelines that you can use to elicit emotions and reactions.
Include faces. Data indicates that pictures that have a face get nearly 40% more likes. Avoid food. Unless your influencer niche is food, your followers aren’t likely to be interested in what you’re eating unless it’s a special event or something unique.
Use action images. Pictures with everyone just standing around are boring. Instead, try to imply some sort of action with the pictures you post. Pictures of two people talking, or of hands engaged in a task are more interesting to the human eye.
Use a filter. Filters aren’t necessary all the time, but the majority can really benefit from adding one of the available filters Instagram offers. You can easily experiment with a few by tapping on them in the menu. Just be careful that you’re selecting a filter that really helps the image. The most advanced filters are lightroom presets by Adobe. The more you use them, the more familiar you’ll be with all the advanced features. Eventually, you’ll have favorite presets you’ll use to build out your brand look and feel.
Develop picture-taking skills. With the increase in technology, we now have sophisticated cameras right in our smartphones. However, a little practice will still go a long way to ensuring you’re capturing the best moments. Holding your phone still, getting good lighting, and understanding depth and focus will make your pictures worthy of Instagram. Once you take that perfect photo and get great user feedback you can even look to enter photo contests and increase your exposure to a wider audience.
Above all, Instagram is a social platform based on imagery. Users scroll quickly through their feeds, and it’s the stunning images that will make them stop and engage.
Find the Best Time to Post on Instagram and Connect with Your Followers
Having an active social media presence is an important undertaking. But it can be hard to know how to stage your content across various social platforms so that you maximize the value of every tweet or post. Each social site has different audience norms and engagement, so you need to adapt to each one. The best time to post on Instagram may not be the same as on Twitter or Facebook, for example. Fortunately, you can use social media tools to help you understand the nuances of your audience, share content at the best times, and extend your social reach.
With more than one billion global users—and growing rapidly—Instagram should be an essential component of your social media marketing mix. A highly visual network, Instagram boasts strong engagement rates and many devoted users.
To make the most of your presence on the platform, you shouldn’t post randomly and hope for the best. Instead, you should know the best time to post on Instagram for your industry—and use the Instagram Insight tool to learn about the activity of your audience. Third-party tools can help extend your knowledge and streamline your Instagram content management efforts.
By using the right tools, you can understand how to connect with followers—even if your audience spans multiple time zones. You can learn which days of the week and which hours of the day will reach the most people. Cater to Instagram’s preference for “recency” and engagement by posting at a specific time when you’re likely to see ample user activity. Over time, you’ll learn how to publish powerful Instagram stories, videos and campaigns that attract attention to your brand and drive new business opportunities.
Remember that reviewing your Instagram analytics and tweaking post times isn’t a “one and done” task. As your audience grows, you’ll see changes in activity trends. You must revamp your Instagram posting schedule as your audience needs evolve.
To streamline your Instagram posting efforts, you can use one of the many social scheduling tools that are available today. Some offer value-added features—such as photo editing or hashtag research. Use these assets to keep your content fresh, relevant, and appealing. You can use tools to understand your audience, know which followers in your network have the strongest social presence, and build on this insight to measure your Instagram influencer marketing campaigns.
Knowing the best time to post on Instagram is the foundation of a successful presence on the popular social platform. You can use this know-how to present the right content to the right followers at the right time. Soon, you’ll have an engaged, passionate audience that looks out for your posts and shares them enthusiastically, helping you grow your influencer even more.
You don’t have to stop there. Take your expertise to the next level by joining the community of more than one million experts who share qualified, authentic product recommendations and get to connect with hundreds of top brands, enjoying behind-the-scenes access and discounts up to 60% off. Learn more at ExpertVoice.com — and happy Instagramming!
Connor Jones , Sr. Manager of PR and Communications