In high school, one of my friends was determined to find the perfect time to post her Instagram photos to maximize the amount of likes she got. She was surprisingly scientific about it, posting at different times of the day and jotting down each of her posts' "likes per minute."
After weeks of testing, she figured out which post time raked in the most likes, and, from then on, she could easily get 200 likes on all her Instagram posts.
My friend's rather scientific method to maximize her Instagram likes still makes me chuckle to this day. But since I'm a marketer now, her desire to build a strong Instagram presence also resonates with me.
To build a sizable Instagram following, you need to create compelling content that your audience actually craves. But if you don't post your content at the right time, most of them will never see it.
So how do you figure out the optimal post time for your specific audience?
The best way to find an ideal posting time is by testing the timing of your posts to see which post time generates the most audience engagement.
But if you don't have enough resources or time to conduct your own tests, Sprout Social, a social media management platform with over 24,000 customers, has you covered. Last year, they analyzed their customer data to see what time and day their social media posts generated the most engagement. They also segmented the data by social network and industry.
Looking at their aggregate customer data for Instagram, you can see that the following days and times -- in Central Daylight Time (CDT) -- are ideal for generating the most engagement on the social network:
When is the Best Time to Post on Instagram?
On average, the best time to post on Instagram is between 2 PM and 3 PM CDT. However, the level of engagement you get can change dramatically depending on what day of the week you post. The best day to post on Instagram is Thursday, not just at 3 PM, but at 5 AM, 11 AM, and 4 PM as well.
As stated above, although 2 – 3 PM is considered the best time of day to post on Instagram, the day of the week on which you post can change how much engagement you actually get at 2 – 3 PM.
Why? Think about the little differences in your daily mood and routine -- the ones you might not realize you have -- and how they affect your behavior. The same goes for everyone following your Instagram account. Here are some additional insights about optimal post timing from data by Sprout Social to show you what I mean:
Posting at 5:00 AM CDT from Tuesday to Friday generates some of the highest engagement -- people usually check their phones right when they wake up.
Posting from 11:00 AM to 3:00 PM CDT during the weekdays also generates a lot of engagement -- people usually check their phones during lunch or when they start to run out of mental energy toward the end of the work day.
If you want to post on the weekends, post on Saturday around 11:00 AM CDT when people eat brunch or hang out with their friends.
So, when Instagramming, don't go by this time range alone. Consider both the day of the week and the industry you're in (we'll talk about the latter in just a minute).
On average, here are the best times to Instagram during the week within each time zone globally:
Best Time to Post on Instagram Each Day
Sunday: 10 AM – 2 PM
Monday: 9 AM – 5 PM (Engagement peaks at 11 AM and 2 PM)
Tuesday: 8 AM – 6 PM, *7 PM
Wednesday: 5 AM, *11 AM - 3 PM
Thursday: 5 AM, *11 – 4 PM
Friday: *5 AM, 9 AM - 10 AM, *11 AM - 1 PM, 2 - 4 PM
Saturday: 9 - 11 AM
* = particularly high levels of engagement
Want some easy marching orders based on this data? Post to Instagram between 9 AM and 6 PM from Tuesday to Friday. You'll get the most consistent engagement that way.
Need a visual to strategize around? Check out this Sprout Social chart which shows Global Instagram Engagement hotspots.
The general data above about optimal post timing is a great starting point for growing an engaged Instagram audience. But if you want to get more granular, here are the best times to post on Instagram if your organization is in the technology, B2C, education, healthcare, and non-profit industries, according to Sprout Social's research.
Best Times to Post on Instagram for Technology Companies
Best Time: Wednesday at 10:00 AM CDT
Most Consistent Engagement: Wednesday to Friday from 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM CDT
Best Day: Thursday
Worst Day: Sunday
Best Times to Post on Instagram for B2C Companies
Best Time: Friday at 11:00 AM & 1:00 PM CDT
Most Consistent Engagement: Everyday from 10:00 AM to 3:00 PM CDT
Best Day: Wednesday
Worst Day: Sunday
Best Times to Post on Instagram for Educational Organizations
Best Time: Monday at 8:00 PM CDT
Most Consistent Engagement: Weekdays from 11:00 AM to 4:00 PM CDT
Best Day: Monday
Worst Day: Sunday
Best Times to Post on Instagram for Healthcare Companies
Best Time: Tuesday at 1:00 PM CDT
Most Consistent Engagement: Tuesday to Friday from 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM CDT
Best Day: Tuesday
Worst Day: Saturday & Sunday
Best Times to Post on Instagram for Non-Profit Organizations
Best Times: Tuesday at 3:00 PM & 9:00 PM, Wednesday at 3:00 PM & 4:00 PM, Thursday at 2:00 PM & 3:00 PM, and Friday at 10:00 AM & 2:00 PM,
Most Consistent Engagement: Weekdays from 12:00 PM to 5:00 PM
Best Day: Tuesday
Worst Day: Saturday
Every brand's audience is different. To build a sizable, engaged Instagram audience, you need to know who your followers are. And one of the best ways to get to know your audience and capture their attention is by knowing exactly when they like to surf the app.
Editor's Note: This post was originally published in February 2018, but was updated for comprehensiveness and freshness January 24, 2019
Originally published Jan 24, 2020 12:00:00 PM, updated November 17 2020