When Should We?
The short answer to when to post is that it depends on your audience and their browsing habits. This varies so much that the only true way to get a feel for the answer is to thoroughly research your audience. You will find that what works for fans of food, doesn’t work for music fans, and what works for the tech industry doesn’t work for fashion. So, you need to really tailor your posts into what will work for your particular industry. The only main takeaway is that it is best to post during off-work hours.
Take a look at this research:
According to this research, the best time to post on Instagram is between 2 p.m. and 3 p.m. CDT
HubSpot breaks it down by day of the week, too:
Hootsuite goes even deeper in their analysis, suggesting optimal posting times by industry:
- Travel and Tourism: Friday between 9 a.m. and 1 p.m.
- Media and Entertainment: Tuesdays and Thursdays from 12 p.m. to 3 p.m.
- Food and Beverage: Fridays at 12 p.m.
- Retail: Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays at 12 p.m.
- Professional Services: Friday, Tuesday, and Wednesday at 9 a.m. or 10 a.m.
- Non-Profit: Tuesday at 4 p.m. or 10 a.m.
- Non-Retail E-commerce: Thursday at 9 p.m. or 4 p.m.
- Pharma and Healthcare: Wednesday and Sunday at 9 a.m.
- Personal Care: Friday and Thursday at 1, 2, or 3 p.m.
- Technology: Monday and Tuesday at 2 p.m.
- Education: Thursday at 4 p.m. or 5 p.m.
All this research does give you some basic trends that you can identify. Weekdays are better than weekends, and Thursdays are particularly good, whereas Sundays are terrible.
So, Does Timing Matter at all?
Yes, it matters, but it is not simple. The new Instagram algorithm uses three main factors to determine which posts a user sees.
There are as follows:
Relationship – Instagram prioritises content that a user has interacted with in the past. So if they are someone who likes posts, comments and shares, then they are going to going to see this content more frequently and higher up their queue.
Interest – This is where the algorithm determines what posts a user is likely to be interested in and spend some time with and it will increase the frequency of these sorts of posts. So if a user spends a lot of time looking at posts about gaming or fashion, then Instagram is going to show a user more of these types of posts.
Timeliness – This is where the timing comes in to play as newer posts are shown before older posts.
All this boils down to one thing, and that is you need to get to know your followers in order to decide when to post.
This is a cyclical relationship with your audience. If you post when your audience is most likely to engage with your content, then they will engage with it and take more interested in it, which will cause it more likely to be shown to them in the future where they will engage with it and so on and so on. So, you really need to get to know your audience and plan well for them.
Finding the Best Time to Post to Your Followers
This is all about a mixture of research and testing, testing, testing and testing again. In order to make the most of these tests then you can use Instagram Analytics to see what works for your audience. Simply select the insights feature and go to more information. This will give you a breakdown of not only the age, gender, and location for your followers, but will also give you a graph that shows the days and times that your followers are most active. This is broken down on an hourly basis so you can really drill down and determine what the best time to post is for your audience.
You should also drill down into what your competitors are doing. You need to see what is working for them and what isn’t. You can then use this information to help with your own posts. So, if they posted a video that got a huge response, then maybe you need a piece of video content. Maybe they always post their content at the same time every week, and this works for them. This is where you can use scheduled posting to your best advantage.
If you use a tool like Hootsuite, then not only can you schedule the times that you are going to post, but it will also give you an idea of what the best times to post your content will be. You can then use this information to your advantage and get the maximum exposure to your audience. From the dashboard in Hootsuite, you can post and schedule posts directly to Instagram, engage with the audience and see the metrics all in one place so it really is a great tool for upping your social media game.
Is it the Same for Instagram Stories?
Instagram stories get a lot more attention than regular posts. In fact, they see around 2-3 times the engagement. They give a great way for the audience to interact with their favourite brands. By their very nature though stories are a lot timelier and more urgent than other content, so the single most relevant factor in posting a story is keeping it fresh. This means that you should always aim to post stories when your followers are active or there is something timely to say.
What Else Can I Do to Ensure that my Posts Are Seen?
One of the other key things you need to do to ensure that your posts are relevant and have the reach that you need is to make sure that you have all the hashtags set up correctly for your content. Users follow hashtags of the subjects that interest them, so you need to make sure that you have the right hashtags on your content.
You also want to post a mix of content. This means making sure that you create stories as these are timelier for your users and you also post a variety of different content to keep your followers engaged. It can be very easy for users to get fed up of seeing the same thing over and over, so you want to make sure you post all sorts of different things for them.
One further thing you should bear in mind is that Instagram is a global and diverse platform. This means that you might not just have one group of followers. If you have followers on opposite sides of the planet then their engagement times are going to be different for each audience. Therefore, you need to break down your audience into natural groups. Then you can create content that is targeted towards those groups. This means posting at different times and slightly different content for each group.
It is also important when you are scheduling content that you make sure your posts go live, just before the peak period of your users. This means that when your users log on your posts will be the freshest around and therefore are more likely to be seen sooner.
Just remember the single most important thing you can do to know when your content should be posted is to understand your audience, so put in the time, do the research and you will see your engagement increase dramatically.
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