Many brands struggle to answer the question of when (and how often) they should post on Instagram. There is a lot of great information out there, but there’s also a lot that’s, well, not so great. Often you’ll see recommendations from people who confidently say, “The best day to post on Instagram is Thursday!” These recommendations are highly oversimplified, but the good news is that several companies analyzing social media data are getting more specific about their recommendations. These companies are working to break out recommendations by industry, company size, etc. to help you determine the right answer for your brand’s gram. To help you optimize your Instagram strategy, we’re sharing some of our favorite resources, debunking some myths, and providing specific tips to help individual brands.
General Recommendations are Good for Beginners
If you haven’t posted a lot on Instagram, or if you’ve never actively implemented a real strategy, then the recommendations offered by companies like Sprout Social are a great place to start. Sprout Social compiled data from all of their customers and broke down their analysis by customer industry and social media platforms. This means that they have data on when it’s best for healthcare companies vs. tech companies to post on Instagram. This doesn’t mean that Sprout Social’s recommendations are the final say on when you should schedule your Instagram posts. The data simply gives you a starting point–you can post with Sprout’s guidelines in mind, and then analyze your own data to see if that strategy works for your brand.
As you’re getting started, here are a few general guidelines that can help you shape your initial strategy:
- Overall, Thursdays tend to be the best day to post on Instagram.
- Thursday-Friday at 5AM shows a high level of engagement across Instagram. This seems to indicate that people are checking Instagram right when they wake up–before they start their day.
- Mid-afternoon on weekdays also shows high levels of engagement. There could be a number of reasons for this, but Sprout Social guesses that many people are hitting their “mid-day lull” at work and need a little break. This may also align with coffee breaks, lunch breaks, and school letting out for the day.
- Sundays have the lowest levels of engagement on Instagram.
We want to emphasize that these are simply guidelines—what’s most important is that you test different times and listen to your brand’s specific audience.
Testing on Instagram
If you have very little data to analyze, the resources we talked about above are a good place to start when drafting your Instagram schedule. Give yourself plenty of time to test, and don’t worry if you don’t see immediate results. Create a strategy, stick to it for a month or so, then analyze the data. If you change your strategy too often you won’t be able to collect consistent data that will help you iterate on your strategy.
To properly analyze the results of these tests, t you need to make sure that you have an Instagram business account and know how to access Instagram’s Insights within that account. From your business account page, select the icon with four vertical lines in the top right corner. That will take you to the Insights section and show you how your content is performing.
Save Time by Scheduling Instagram Posts
Managing social media sounds like–and can be–a lot of fun. What people don’t talk about, though, is how time-intensive it can be to implement a social media strategy. It’s a lot of work! One way that many businesses save time is by scheduling posts ahead of time. You can use any number of apps to schedule posts as far in advance as you like, but to keep your content timely, you may find it best to schedule only a week or two in advance. That way you can save time by bulk-posting while still ensuring that your weekly content is relevant to what’s going on right now.
When scheduling ahead of time you can make a plan for what types of Instagram content you want to test. Using engaging stock graphics and photos can also help you save some time learn how to customize photos to match your brand’s Instagram aesthetic.
Frequency vs. Consistency
One myth that we’d like to debunk is that businesses have to post on Instagram every day. Nope! This tactic may work for some brands, but it’s extremely resource-intensive and TBH, not sustainable for most small businesses. Plus, posting every day may not even lead to higher engagement. What’s most important is that you post consistently so your audience knows when they can expect content from you. This will allow you to develop a loyal following without burning yourself out trying to keep up with an overly aggressive social strategy. Remember–test effectively, stay true to your brand, and always keep your audience in mind.