When is the best time to post on Instagram to make sure a post is seen?
And what about the best time to get the most likes? Most of the comments?
We're here to tell you that – sigh – there isn't a single "best time" to post.
The time is different for each individual Instagram account. And your Instagram account alone can have different answers depending on your marketing goals.
Fortunately, finding your brand's unique best is easy.
In this article, we'll show you how the Hootsuite social team found our best time to post on Instagram, then we'll show you how to find yours.
Bonus: Download a free checklist This shows the exact steps a lifestyle photographer took on Instagram to grow from 0 to 600,000 followers, without a budget and without expensive equipment.
What is a Best Time to Post on Instagram?
There's no one-size-fits-all rule of when to post to Instagram. While there are numerous ad hoc studies and industry benchmarks out there, every brand is unique because every audience is unique.
In general, when your followers are online, posting is key as the Instagram algorithm prioritizes freshness. This means that if everything else is the same, a newer post will appear higher in the newsfeed than an older one.
Honestly, being up to date is one of the quickest and easiest gains when it comes to optimizing a post for success. (If you're interested, we have tons more tips on how to get free Instagram likes.)
In addition, it is important to know what exactly are your goals for your Instagram marketing strategy. Do you have specific goals to raise awareness, engage, or drive traffic? What does success look like for you and when have your contributions achieved this success in the past? Your achievements to date are an important guide to when you should publish overall.
I know, I know – this sounds like you need to break out the tables. However, the right Instagram analytics tool will do the heavy lifting and cracking of the numbers for you.
Let's take a look at how the Hootsuite social team figured it out.
Overall best time to post on Instagram
We asked Brayden Cohen, Hootsuite's social marketing and employee advocacy strategist, about the best time to post on Instagram for our accounts and he gave us the rundown:
“We usually like to post in the early morning and late afternoon. For Instagram, this means we try to post anytime between 8:00 a.m. and 12:00 p.m. PST or between 4:00 p.m. and 5:00 p.m. PST on weekdays. "
Cohen revealed that – at least for Hootsuite's North American B2B audience – our Instagram posts work best when we hit the wake-up or lunch break for our Pacific time zone audience and sit down to work or sign off for hours in the Eastern time zone .
Using the activity heat map provided in Hootsuite Analytics, you can easily see when the Hootsuite Instagram audience is online:
Source: Hootsuite Analytics
Cohen and the social team also use the tools in Hootsuite Impact to review the performance of posts and campaigns. "The data there tells us whether we should continue to focus on the same strategy or move something into the future."
Overall, Cohen says the decision on when to post to Instagram goes something like this:
“We use past performance as a guiding star and then check when the audience is online as a second opinion. After that, if our content stops working well, we test various times to see if that changes the performance of the post. "
All in all, just like the best time to post on social media in general, there is no silver bullet or one-size-fits-all answer. An Instagram content calendar should be just as data-driven as the rest of the marketing strategy.
And since the bigger picture is important too, here are some key Instagram stats, benchmarks, and demographic to help you develop your strategy:
Tips on How to Find the Best Time to Post on Instagram
Review your posts with the best performing
First, consider what type of performance you are aiming for: brand awareness or engagement. Your approach to timing your Instagram posts may vary depending on which of them is more important to you.
Which of your posts have had high impressions in the past? When did you post it? And are these posts different from the ones that earn likes?
Your Instagram analytics are your best source of truth here. Of course, not all analytics tools are created equal, and some can help you avoid the severe data crunch.
For example, Hootsuite's Best Time to Post feature suggests the best time to post to Instagram based on historical performance. It analyzes your contributions over the past 30 days, groups them by day of the week and hour, and then calculates the average Impressions or engagement rate to identify the time windows when your posts had the greatest impact.
Check out when your audience is most active online
The next step in finding the best time to post is to take a look at your analytics to see when your followers are scrolling their feed.
As marketers, we need to know our audience. If you target Gen Z sports fans on Instagram, their social media consumption habits may be vastly different from those of technology managers who wake up at 4 a.m. to meditate in their infrared saunas.
Hootsuite's Best Time to Publish feature automatically breaks this information down into a heat map (see above). It will also help you experiment by predicting time windows that your Instagram followers will be online.
It also suggests time slots that you haven't used in the last 30 days so you can change your posting habits and test new tactics.
Think about when your competitors will post
Depending on your industry, your competitors may be performing the same calculations and experiments as you. Social listening (or even a full analysis of social competition) is helpful for keeping track of what might be working for audiences in your industry.
Pro tip: Many brands post on the hour mark. So consider posting a few minutes before or after: 00 to avoid competing for limited shelf space.
Post in your audience's time zone
If you have a global audience or are outside of the "usual" time zones (see you Mumbai; how are you, Sydney?) Your best time to post might be 3:00 am.
Can we suggest automating your Instagram posts instead of setting off some really gruesome alarms? One of the best tools to do this is by using an Instagram scheduler to make sure your posts are published at the right time every day.
Here's a quick rundown of how to post using Hootsuite's Instagram scheduling feature:
Monitor and adjust
Yes, optimizing your Instagram posts for success takes a lot of work – it's a lot more than just choosing the right filter. However, entering the numbers quarterly to pinpoint the right time to post is one of the easiest ways to ensure your content gets the right eyes. (It's easier than improving your videography or writing skills anyway – although we highly recommend both.)
According to Brayden Cohen of the Hootsuite Instagram team, “We check out our top performing posts weekly to see if there are any insights that will help us revise our strategy or post cadence. But we generally only change the times we post once a quarter, if at all. "
Cohen noted that due to the impact of the pandemic on working hours in 2020, for example, many people spend less time commuting or enjoying a traditional lunch break. B2B audiences are more likely to be on their phones, and this is reflected in the spread of Instagram usage throughout the day.
The world changes and the audience's habits change. So set a reminder on your calendar to review your results and make adjustments.
To appear consistently in the long term
In order to receive the full reward for all this knowledge of your audience, it is important to be systematic with your posts. While you probably won't see a stunning bump if you just post a few hours earlier than usual every now and then, consistent use of the data will move the needle over time.
It's a virtuous circle: your audience has a habit of seeing your brand on their feed, they enjoy your content, and they engage with it. The consistent appearance on Instagram creates credibility, trust and ensures a meaningful relationship.
At the end of the day, when you have an authentic connection with your audience, the algorithm will notice this and so will your bottom line.
Manage your Instagram presence along with your other social channels and save time with Hootsuite. Schedule and publish posts, engage audiences, and measure performance from a single dashboard. Try it for free today.
Take the guesswork off of when to post on social media Hootsuites best time to post.