Trying to figure out the best time to post on Instagram? With over 1 billion monthly active users, Instagram remains one of the most strategic social platforms for brands aiming to reach wider audiences. But simply posting quality content isn‘t enough – you need to know when to post for optimal visibility.
As a social media strategist with over 7 years of experience boosting clients‘ Instagram growth, I‘ve tested countless posting schedules. In this comprehensive guide, I‘ll share the latest research and my proven expertise on finding ideal Instagram posting times in August 2023 and beyond.
Why Posting Time Matters on Instagram
Let‘s first address why timing even impacts performance on Instagram.
Essentially, Instagram feeds operate similarly to news feeds. When another user logs in, the app algorithmically curates recent content from accounts they engage with often. If you post when more of your audience is actively scrolling on Instagram, your content‘s visibility shoots up.
But if you share a post while fewer individuals are online, you limit its potential reach. Less than 30% of even your own followers will catch posts that appear when they aren‘t on the app.
Additionally, Instagram factors "recency" and engagement velocity into its ranking algorithm. Content driving quicker likes, comments, etc. gets surfaced higher over time. If nobody interacts with your post shortly after publishing, Instagram may suppress it for longer.
So ultimately, timing remains critical for Instagram success. Let‘s analyze the best practices.
When To Post on Instagram: Key Times
Determining your audience‘s peak activity windows is the foundation for strategic Instagram posting.
While optimal timing varies slightly by day and by industry, research overwhelmingly points to weekdays between 10 AM-2 PM as the strongest Instagram posting window.
This aligns with typical lunch breaks when users reflexively check Instagram in downtime. Engagement also remains higher as people scroll while easing back into workmode after eating.
Additionally, the hours from 5-8 PM tend to perform well everyday, catching people winding down after work cooking dinner, commuting, or finally having downtime before bed.
You‘ll notice that these align with periods outside of working hours when checking Instagram feels more relaxing. That atmosphere drives more likes and comments.
Here is a more detailed breakdown of high-traffic windows by day:
|Best Times to Post
|10 AM-3 PM, 6 PM-8 PM
|12 PM-1 PM, 7 PM-9 PM
|10 AM-2 PM
|8 AM-9 AM, 1 PM-2 PM
|12 PM-1 PM, 8 PM-9 PM
|10 AM-11 AM, 6 PM-7 PM
|11 AM-2 PM, 7 PM-8:30 PM
You‘ll notice Wednesdays and Thursdays jump out as carrying the most reliably strong engagement. Fridays also tend to perform above average.
If I had to choose two ultimate "power hours" for Instagram posts, I‘d recommend Wednesdays at 1 PM EST as well as Thursdays at 2 PM EST.
However, as a best practice, continue checking your own account‘s metrics within Instagram Insights for personalized data, which I‘ll cover next.
Check Your Instagram Insights
While these general benchmarks help strategically guide your posting calendaring, your audience‘s behaviors may vary.
For example, a European travel account likely sees different peak activity based on time zones versus a college sorority‘s account targeting East Coast students.
That‘s why regularly checking your Instagram Insights remains crucial for pinpointing the uniquely best times for your account traction and engagement.
Here are 3 key areas to assess in Instagram Insights:
1. Follower Activity Times
Navigate to the "Followers" report showing percentages of follower activity per day. Notice whether certain days consistently have higher activity percentages.
You can filter the graph by location and gender too. For example, you may notice 60% of your female followers in Australia seem to drive engagement, peaking between their breakfast and lunch hours as they sneak Instagram scrolling into their work days. Tailor posting times to overlap with their online windows.
2. Your Top-Performing Posts
Under the "Content" section of Insights, sort past posts by highest reach or engagement. Check what specific times and days your best-performing pieces of content have gone live successfully.
For example, if a post from 6:55 PM on a Sunday night last July drove huge engagement, that indicates your audience may be very active Sunday evenings.
3. Post Insights
For all your latest feed posts and Stories, Instagram shows helpful granular analytics. Pay attention to when the posts receiving the most Likes and Comments relative to overall Reach went up. Determine what times appear to resonate best with your audience for clues on when they are most active on Instagram.
Together these data points illustrate the peak times and days personalized for your account. Let your audience patterns guide your scheduling strategy.
Optimal Posting Times By Content Format
Beyond day of week, posting times can also vary based on the specific content format you share.
For example, someone may quickly like an Instagram photo on their lunch break but then watch a full Reels video in the evening while cooking dinner instead.
Different types of content lend themselves to different consumption moments.
Here’s a more granular breakdown of the top times found for each of Instagram‘s main content types:
Instagram Feed Photos
While Instagram prioritizes Reels and video content in feeds now, photos remain extremely popular and worth optimizing:
- Weekdays: Best times are 11 AM-1 PM EST catching the lunch hour crowd. Posting again around 7-8 PM EST also catches people unwinding from their workdays scrolling through Instagram.
- Weekends: Schedule photo posts on Saturdays from 10-11 AM EST or 7 PM onward for visibility during relaxed morning routines or evening downtime. Sundays also achieve great traction from roughly 2 PM-7 PM as users battle late day restlessness.
Reels have exploded since launching in August 2020. Their fun, short-form format resonates perfectly with young users.
For optimal Reels visibility:
- Weekdays: Post from 11 AM-4 PM covering lunch breaks, or later from 6 PM onward when free evening time opens up.
- Weekends: Prioritize Saturday and Sunday evenings from 7 PM-10 PM EST plus late nights from 10 PM-1 AM when teen and college-aged audiences actively scroll before bed.
In general, afternoons and evenings drive best results given the recreational mindset. But consider your audience – an account targeting new moms may find early mornings over index as well.
The ephemerality of Instagram Stories incentivizes more immediate engagement before they disappear after 24 hours.
Highest visibility windows for Instagram Stories include:
- Weekdays: 8-10 AM EST reaching people commuting to school or work, plus 3 PM-6 PM when taking short breaks from work at home.
- Fridays: Capitalize on weekend anticipation by posting Friday evening Stories starting around 5 PM onward.
- Weekends: Saturdays and Sundays achieve strong viewership from 10 AM EST into the late afternoons and early evenings when relaxing.
IGTV and YouTube Videos
For longer-form video assets, ideal watch times include:
- Weekdays: Bookend peak commute times from 7 AM-10 AM EST plus evenings from 8 PM-midnight when free time opens up.
- Weekends: Late Saturday and Sunday mornings from 10 AM EST-1 PM EST catch people with downtime looking for entertainment.
Keep an eye on completion rates and drop-off points though to assess if certain lengths should be shorter to hold view durations.
The spontaneity of live video helps attract tap-in viewers – but strategic timing still matters:
- Weekdays: Early mornings or lunch breaks achieve visibility with commuters and remote workers taking screen breaks.
- Evenings: Late nights from 8 PM-midnight align with prime relaxation moments, especially Friday or Saturday nights.
- Weekends: Late weekend mornings tend to work well from 10 AM EST onward.
As you can see, each content format follows its own ideal timing formula based on user inclination to engage. This requires tailored strategies.
Test posts across these publishing windows while tracking performance in Insights to determine what moves your particular needle with your audience.
More Tips for Maximizing Instagram Success
In addition to strategic timing, a few other best practices to boost Instagram performance include:
Build predictable posting cadences rather than sporadic schedules. Followers will grow accustomed to seeing new content regularly, increasing impressions and conversions over time through consistency.
Engage Frequently with Others
Liking, commenting on, and reposting other creators‘ content leads to reciprocal engagement. Instagram also surfaces highly active accounts more prominently.
Set aside time daily to interact with both influencers in your industry as well as engage directly with your niche audience community.
Curate an ongoing list of both widely popular as well as niche hashtags to expand reach. But don‘t over-tag either. Research suggests including 5-10 tactically selected hashtags balances proper targeting without looking spammy.
Run Paid Ads
Consider putting some budget behind Instagram posts as promoted ads, especially for publishing outside of peak times. The extra visibility boost can make up for lower organic reach potential.
Continuously check your Instagram Insights analytics for changes in engagement rates tied to factors like posting time, day, hashtag use, etc. Let the data dictate what‘s working then further optimize accordingly.
Determining your best times to post on Instagram requires assessing both broader industry research as well as studying patterns within your own audience. Plan an intentional posting strategy that mixes consistent scheduling with testing new timing variables.
Pay attention to both real-time post engagement metrics as well as historical performance reporting through Instagram Insights to guide decisions. Mastering timing for visibility takes work – but the impact on growth makes that effort worthwhile.
In 2023, ideal times to publish feed posts or Stories remain concentrated around weekday lunch breaks or evening relaxation moments. Content shared from 11 AM-1 PM or 6 PM-9 PM overall sees higher impressions.
But don’t take these windows as fixed gospel. Let your audience signals dictate what posting schedule works for your PARTICULAR account and niche.
If you arm yourself with these timing best practices for Instagram and keep listening to your followers’ behaviors through data, you’ll continue increasing reach and engagement with every post.