We all give careful thought to the content we’re posting as part of our social media strategy. We’ve got our content pillars, our brand tone of voice, calls to action – this all takes strategic thinking. But have you ever stopped to consider that the time you’re posting to Instagram is also highly strategic?
Think about it: in the sometimes noisy world of social media, people don’t see all the content posted by every account they follow – there’s simply too much to consume. As a result, you need to ensure that you’re publishing posts at a time when you can be sure your target audience will see it.
So, when is the best time to post to get optimal exposure and engagement? As always in business, there is no one size fits all and no answer that applies to everyone. However, we’ve put together our top tips for how to get your posting times right for your business.
Know the three standard ‘peak times’ to post
The first thing to bear in mind is that there will be those three times during the day when a high percentage of your following is online:
- Mornings before 08:00
- Lunchtime, from 12:00-14:00
- Evenings after 18:00
Of course, within that, you need to take into account your target audience, who might not all be in the same time zone as you. Ensure that you do your research and know where those you wish to reach live, so that you can tailor the timings of your posts to reflect their schedules.
On your Instagram profile, tap ‘Insights’ and then ‘Total Followers’ and scroll down to see the top locations where your following is based. Switch to ‘countries’ to get a good idea of the times zones for the majority of your audience, so that you make calculations about posting times based on this information.
Optimise post times for your account based on your followers’ habits
Whilst the general peak times are a helpful starting point, it’s also worth noting that your target audience will have their own unique online usage patterns so, to get a clear picture of exactly how your audience behaves and when they’re most active on social media, you’ll want to go back to your Instagram Insights again.
You know that ‘Total Followers’ section of your insights that we talked about earlier? This page will also show you a range of other information on your followers – helpfully including the times and days of the week they are most likely to be online. Take note! You’ll want to bear these times in mind when posting.
Learn the best post time - algorithm hack
Once you’ve determined the peak times that your target audience are logging in to Instagram, aim to publish your posts 30 minutes prior to that time. Although there’s been no formal research to back up this theory, it seems to work!
Some elements of the algorithm remain a mystery, but what we do know is that Instagram’s algorithm prioritises the most recent posts when displaying content to your audience, so you don’t want to post too much earlier than the times they’re typically online. That 30 minutes beforehand seem to be the sweet spot.
Test and experiment with the best post times for you
With all that being said, no matter how strategic your approach, it’s always important to do your own primary research and experiment and test different posting times. Try a few different times based both on your insights, and the general peak times, and keep track of your engagement levels for a few weeks.
During the testing period, you might want to use a spreadsheet to record the times and dates you’ve published specific posts, so that when you go into your insights later on, you’re able to identify patterns and results at a glance.
On your Insights page, tap the ‘Content you’ve shared’ section and filter down to a recent timeframe to see the interactions with your posts. You can filter by the specific type of engagement (e.g. reach) to see exactly what types of responses different posts received. We’re not just talking about likes and follows here – as nice as they are to have, they’re vanity metrics and don’t tell the whole story; analyse all interactions on your insights page, including views, profile visits, saves, comments, text button taps, etc.
It takes some time to do this testing and analysing, but it’s worthwhile groundwork to determine your posting strategy going forward. And, as much as we can offer guidance and advice based on patterns observed in other businesses, at the end of the day, it’s your unique business we’re talking about here. Do some testing to find out what definitely works for you.
How to ensure you don’t miss the best time to post
OK, so we’ve discussed timings, insights, algorithm hacks, testing, and we’ve determined the ideal time to post on Instagram to achieve maximum engagement from your audience. Now all you have to do is ensure you stick to that schedule, right?
‘But I have a business to run!’ we hear you protesting – and we understand that you can’t prioritise your working schedule entirely around posting on Instagram. We know that, whether it’s producing items to sell or delivering your service, you have direct income-generating work to do. You might not always remember that it’s your target market’s peak online presence time in an hour and that you need to get something posted to take advantage of our algorithm hack.
That’s why it’s so advantageous to plan your content in advance. Batch-creating your content allows you get into the content creation zone and produce multiple posts in one session, so that you’re not constantly switching between creating posts and the other work you have to accomplish. Not only that, but with the help of a platform like rapide.ly, you can get those posts scheduled in advance so that you don’t need to worry about it on day.
That’s in addition to all the other benefits of rapide.ly, such as industry-specific content ideas, templates, monthly challenges to develop your social media skills, and a support community of fellow business owners. So, what are you waiting for? Get started with our FREE trial today!