Best Time to Post on Instagram: A Scientific Guide

Discovering the best time to post on Instagram

We’ve all wondered when is the best time to post on Instagram.

How else can we explain a deluge of likes and comments one day, and painfully low engagement the next?

The truth is that there’s more to this decision than meets the eye.

Much more.

And you’re not alone.

Entire agencies are dedicated to growing Instagram channels, whether it’s developing new content, or creating an eye-catching Instagram grid. Some of the world’s biggest influencers use it as a lucrative way to make money from home.

Many of the world’s best social media marketing tools have been created specifically to help you master the elusive Instagram algorithm.

But knowing the best time to post for your followers can help you grow your account, market your product, build your brand and increase engagement with your community.

Let’s get started.

Table of contents

Is there a universal best time to post on Instagram?

The quick answer is no.

The Hubspot graphic (below) recommends different times for different days of the week.

Hubspot posting guide
Source: Hubspot.com

This information is interesting, but fairly vague.

It doesn’t take into account the following:

  • What sector or industry you’re in
  • Whether you have audiences in different time zones
  • The intent of your audience (people buy more at specific times of the day)

However, it does allow us to draw some general conclusions.

  • There is a sweet spot on most days between 11am until 3pm. This is likely to reflect the times that people are on their lunch breaks.
  • On Tuesday until Friday the times are earlier, from around 5am. This is likely to show that most people check their phones when they get up before going to work.
  • At weekends the times are later. Most of us get up later on weekends.

What the Hubspot graphic really shows is that the best time to post really depends on the day of the week.

There is no such thing as a single, universal time where your Instagram engagement will be higher.

So let’s go deeper into the data and break it down by weekday.

What is the best time to post for each day of the week?

According to the data from Sprout Social, here are the best times to post on Instagram.

Instagram global engagement chart
Source: Spoutsocial.com

The above chart has two stand-out times:

  • Wednesday at 11am
  • Friday from 10am-12pm

As you can see from the chart, the worst time to post on Instagram is Sunday, with lower engagement throughout the day.

However, these are aggregated findings.

Does the best time to post on Instagram vary by niche?

The answer is yes.

Here are three graphs from the same study that show different sectors.

Here is a breakdown of engagement from the tech sector.

An overview of the best time to post on Instagram for tech brands

And here is a breakdown of engagement from the nonprofit sector.

A look at the best times to post on Instagram for nonprofit brands

As you can see, the Tech sector has higher engagement in the morning, while the non-profit sector has higher engagement in the afternoon.

And what about recreation?

Instagram recreational engagement stats

The statistics for recreation seem to suggest that the best time for posting is after lunch on most weekdays.

What these charts all tell us is that the best time to post on Instagram doesn’t just vary by day.

It also varies according to the niche you’re in.

What do the stats show about the best posting times?

For anyone searching for the best time to post on Instagram, these studies are both good news and bad news.

Let’s start with the good news.

There are some general overall assumptions that you can follow.

  • Most engagement, regardless of sector seems to happen within the working day.
  • Higher engagement (for multiple sectors) is around lunch time. You can imagine people taking a break and checking their phones.
  • Engagement really drops off after 9pm, and doesn’t start until 5-6am, so there seems to be little point in targeting these hours.

And the bad news?

The engagement varies quite significantly from sector to sector.

This means that pinning down a definitive time to get the most likes and comments is really going to depend on multiple factors.

  • The time of the day
  • The day of the week
  • The sector that you’re in

I’m guessing that many of you that clicked this post were hoping for a simple answer.

Something like this:

Best time to post on Instagram - Google featured snippet

The above text is taken from the Google Featured Snippet, which cites data from Later (a social media management tool).

However, don’t worry.

So far, these combined studies have given us a good general guide about which times to target, and which times to avoid.

Where you can make a real impact is to match these guide times with your purpose for posting.

Let me explain.

How does the purpose of your Instagram post make a difference?

Now we’re going to talk a little about Instagram strategy.

For example,

  • Are you someone who is posting simply for likes and follows?
  • Or are you trying to get people with buying intent to purchase from your Instagram store?

I’m going to cover both sections, but let’s start by talking about the best time to post to boost your Instagram sales.

What is the best posting time to boost sales?

Many of us use Instagram as a way to grow our online influence, or as an eCommerce tool to help make money from home.

You might have an online instagram store with Product Tags and Shoppable Posts like this:

You might have an ecommerce website listed in your bio and use Instagram as a tool to drive interest in your products.

Driving traffic to an ecommerce store with Instagram
Source: fashionnova.com

Perhaps you’re an Instagram influencer and you want to drive people to act on a sponsored ad.

An Instagram paid partnership example

If you use Instagram commercially in any of the ways above, then you should be very interested in the following chart.

This chart shows the online spending habits of people, broken down by day.

Online spending habits

The graph shows that people are most likely to make online purchases on:

  • Monday
  • Thursday

The same study also reports:

While the peak hour is between 8pm and 9pm, sales volumes are consistently high from 3pm and begin to drop off after 10pm.

The Drum.co.uk, citing SalesCycle 2020 report

The prime ecommerce hour of 8-9pm also seems to correspond with the ideal posting time cited by Later (a social media management tool.

Google featured snippet: Text from Later.com

There you have it.

While every business and niche is different, the BEST times that combine high instagram engagement with high online spending are:

  • 7-9pm on Monday
  • 7-9pm on Thursday

But what about simply posting for engagement metrics such as likes and follows?

If you put buying intent to one side, what is the best time to post on Instagram to reach the maximum number people?

Would you be better off taking location into account?

What is the best time to post for different locations?

This is where you can be really clever.

If you use Instagram to promote your local business then you should post according to the timezone of the majority of your followers.

Put simply, you should post according to the timezone you live in.

That seems obvious.

However, if you have followers around the world, you might find that the best time to post is at a moment that’s friendly for your different audiences.

For example:

If you post in the fashion sector then the majority of your followers might be split between both LA and London.

So when should you post?

Well, the time difference between LA and London is 8 hours.

You want to post when both audiences are awake.

So you might post in the following slots:

  • 10pm in LA, which would make it 6am in London. That’s just before your LA followers go to sleep, and directly as your London followers wake up.
  • 1pm in La, which would make it 9pm in London. That’s around lunchtime for your American followers, and in that recommended 9pm evening slot for your UK followers.

Seeing where your followers are based by geographic location can have a huge influence on your posting times.

When to post on Instagram: a summary

As you’ll have probably discovered, figuring out the best time to post on Instagram isn’t as simple as it sounds.

Every business is different.

Every set of followers is different.

The best time to post for someone else’s channel won’t necessarily be the best time to post for yours.

However, by following some of the studies listed, you can certainly make some powerful assumptions based on:

  • The day of the week and the likely working habits of your followers.
  • The niche you are in
  • The timezone and location of your followers
  • The purpose of your Instagram channel: intent to sell vs pure engagement

If you’re looking for the best time to post, it’s likely that your overall aim is to grow your channel. Check out my recommended social media tools to see how you can boost engagement on instagram in other ways.

If you enjoyed this article please share or get in touch. Let me know if there’s any specific topic you’d like me to cover.

Good luck!

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