If you're trying to build up a following on Instagram, you'll likely want to post at the best possible times. After all, if people don't actually see your posts, did they really even happen...?
While there's no exact science that dictates the best possible times to share content on Instagram throughout time zones and disciplines, there are strategies you can use. And there are certain times and windows that seem to be consistently better than others.
In this article, we'll use the freeCodeCamp Instagram account as an example – since I run it, I'm the most familiar with its behavior and trends.
I'll share my reasoning behind our timing strategies along with what works best for us. I'll also discuss some general advice about posting times and how you can decide when to share your content.
Let's get started.
What's the best time to post to Instagram, in general?
As I mentioned above, there's not really a universally right or wrong time to post to Instagram. It depends on your audience, your goals, where you're located, and many other factors. But let's try to get some insights.
First, some data:
This is a very general graph, but you can see that there tend to be the most posts between around 9am and 6pm. This makes sense, as people are generally awake and active during those hours.
To get a little more insight into when people post and why, let's dive in deeper.
Put yourselves in your audience's shoes
Alright, let's think about this logically. Perhaps, if you're an Instagram user, think of your own behavior on the app.
If you're a somewhat typical user, you likely check IG right when you wake up. Nothing like a little shot of inspiration/FOMO/political commentary to start off the day right.
Then, when you're eating lunch, you probably open up the app again to check out all the juicy goodness that's been shared while you were working or doing other things all morning.
As your day winds down, and your brain becomes tired or distracted from work or taking care of kids or job hunting – or however you spend your days – you might check in with Instagram again just to escape and browse for a minute.
See what I'm getting at? People tend to check Instagram before work, when they need a break, or when they want inspiration or information.
Of course, Instagram isn't always restful – many people use it for active learning, sharing their art, consuming and sharing information about politics and social justice, and so on.
But it's up to you to know your audience. Whether you're posting travel photos or tech tutorials, think about who might be interested in those images or videos and when they might be browsing the app.
How to choose the best times to post to Instagram
Now that you've thought about who might be viewing your posts (and whom you want to view those posts), let's talk about some general trends in Instagram viewership. I'll focus on the tech and education spheres, since those are where freeCodeCamp lives.
First of all, here's something to keep in mind: if you have a relatively global audience – meaning your viewers are spread all over the world – it matters less when you post. Or rather, you can't cater to all time zones at once. If you can figure out where most of your audience is, or even a small majority, focus on times that are ideal for that area.
This is one strategy I follow. I live on the west coast of the United States, and there are many people in the States that engage with freeCodeCamp in some way (whether through the curriculum, publication, forum, YouTube channel, or our social media channels).
Part of freeCodeCamp's strategy is that we don't schedule posts ahead of time. I like to keep the content fresh and current, and I post to freeCodeCamp's account a few times a week.
By way of planning, I simply reach out to the people who's posts I want to re-share, and ask their permission to do so. Once I've gotten it, I add that post's URL to a spreadsheet so I can keep track of which posts I've shared and when.
Now the main question – once I have my planned posts, when do I share them?
Well, I think about the factors I've discussed above, and here's my general strategy.
Focus on weekdays
I want to catch people when they're studying or working or doing something from which they might need a little break. A little zap of inspiration. Most of the content I share on freeCodeCamp's IG account is being re-shared, so it's content someone else has created and posted.
I do this, in part, to show the global nature of the freeCodeCamp community. Many of the images I share feature developers and new coders who have used or are using the freeCodeCamp curriculum to learn to code. And people are doing that everywhere, so I want our Instagram feed to reflect that.
So throughout the week, around lunchtime (Pacific Time), I share photos of people coding, photos of people's setups, and photos of people learning to code. That way, when a person scrolling through their feed sees something that freeCodeCamp has shared, they hopefully receive a jolt of positivity, inclusivity, support, and inspiration.
Focus on daytime
As an additional note, I do try to share content when a large part of the world is awake.
Of course, not everyone will be bright-eyed and bushy-tailed (as my mom says) when I post, but the goal is to give as many people as possible an opportunity to see the image before the world of IG moves on and floods people's feeds with too many more posts.
Think about the days of the week
Lastly, I think about what people's schedules might be like. I realize that I don't have a completely typical schedule, but I admittedly use myself as a case study.
I generally work Monday-Friday, and spend my weekends focusing on other things. Sometimes something work-related requires my attention on a Saturday or Sunday, but I try to stick to a regular schedule.
When I start the week on Monday, my inboxes are quite full, various repeating tasks demand my attention, and I have a meeting or two. Tuesday is often much the same.
By Wednesday, I'm pretty much caught up and can work on larger projects or other tasks that aren't so time-sensitive.
Thursdays and Fridays are also more free-form and I often have time to write articles for freeCodeCamp's publication and catch up on backlogs.
All this being said, I'll generally share images on Tuesdays or Wednesdays, and then again on Thursdays or Fridays. It fits in nicely with my work schedule, and I imagine that other people find time on those days to check IG once or twice.
Turns out that these times are fairly ideal – people seem to use Instagram a lot on Wednesdays and Fridays (in the tech sphere, especially), and lunchtime is a popular time for perusing.
I check in on each post throughout the day after I post, and then a day or so later, to see how much engagement it's gotten. If it has over 1000 likes and at least 5-10 comments, I know it's done quite well.
Ok, so when should you NOT post to Instagram?
I've been discussing how I strategize and figure out when I should post to Instagram. But how do you determine when you shouldn't?
Well, I did some research, and the general consensus is that Sundays are the worst time. Fewer people use the app and share during that time, which makes sense if you think about it.
In my house, Sundays are often used to get done everything you didn't do during the week. Or, barring that, to decompress and rejuvenate before starting anew. I don't spend a lot of time on social media on the weekends in general, and sometimes I'm just tapped out on screens by the time Saturday and Sunday roll around.
Other than Sundays, there doesn't seem to be one day that, across the board, is bad for Instagram views and engagement. This is where you'll need to do some research specific to your situation.
Figure out your own ideal posting times
You can also go through this mental process – thinking about your audience's potential schedules, cross-referencing with your own, and so on. It might take some trial and error, but keep track of the results and you'll be able to hone your strategy.
But perhaps you know that most of your audience is in a certain geographical area. Then you should do some research on when people use Instagram in your region, or country, and base your posting schedule off that (as it makes sense for you or your brand).
Here are some generalizations to think about as you conduct your research and figure out a posting schedule (again, based on the tech world):
- Weekdays tend to bring about higher engagement
- Sometimes you can catch people when they first wake up, so early morning can work
- Lunch time is pretty reliable, as many people check/browse their phones as they eat
- Later in the workday is also decent, as people get tired of work/whatever they've been doing all day and need a break
- Sundays tend to be relatively quiet in IG land
Do you have data that you've gathered about the best times to post to Instagram? If you share it with us, we might be able to include it in this article :) Just reach out on Twitter.
Good luck reaching as many people as you can with your Instagram content!