It’s not just your imagination: There’s a pattern behind why some of your Instagram posts get better social media engagement than others, regardless of how hard you worked on them.
Experts have analyzed the science of why some posts seem to reap more than their fair share of clicked-on links, likes, shares, comments, new followers, active fans — and most importantly, results.
Like so much in life, it all comes down to timing. Let’s take a look at which times of day, and which days of the week, tend to have the highest rates of social engagement, and what variations exist within various industries. For consistency’s sake, we’re using Eastern Standard Time (EST) as our frame of reference, so adjust accordingly for your own time zone.
Best (and Worst) All-Around Posting Times
Wednesday is the best day overall when it comes to most-viewed Instagram posts, according to data compiled by the social media management platform Sprout Social. That’s factoring in all brands, influencer personalities, and smaller-scale, individual accounts. Specifically, Wednesdays at noon finds the highest spike of activity on Instagram.
The second most-successful posting time for Instagram users overall is noon to 1 p.m. on Fridays. In general, weekdays between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. are good days and times in which to post to the ‘gram. (Probably not a coincidence that these are the times when so many people are chained to their desks at work!)
Before 7 a.m. and after 10 p.m. are the times in which you are least likely to find social engagement, as well as all day Sunday.
Keep in mind, however, that these figures represent all Instagram users. Within that broad audience are categories that have different social media habits. If you have a specific brand identity, it’s important to delve a little deeper to find if the “best all around” periods of engagement on Instagram is the guideline you should be consulting.
Although one might think that weekends are a no-brainer for people to be hitting social media, there’s a difference between idly surfing the ‘gram, vs. actually interacting with brands, business services, non-profits, and so forth.
In other words, while your ideal customer might be dreaming of visiting your area over the weekend, she won’t actually be in hotel-booking mode on a lazy Sunday. In fact, the least-successful day to post when it comes to social engagement are Sundays, virtually across the board.
Variations by Industry
If you’re running the social media for a business — or are catering to consumers of specific industries — one size does not fit all when it comes to when to post on Instagram.
Travel and Recreation
The hospitality and recreation businesses are often operating on a slim profit margin, which means that every post counts. That’s true whether you’re operating a resort halfway around the world from your target customers, own a local eatery, or manage a water park.
For the recreation industry, around 2 p.m. is best, with Wednesday and Thursday posts seeming to perform most successfully. (This is probably not surprising, since a midweek “pick me up” post involving a special trip or weekend paddleboard rental can really help office workers make it through the rest of the day!)
As with most other types of industries, Sundays offer the least successful social engagement opportunities on Instagram for the recreation industry. If your own timetable doesn’t make a midday, mid-week posting time realistic (especially if you’re in a different time zone), split the difference by avoiding early morning or late night posts, which have the least amount of social engagement for the industry.
It’s not enough to simply represent a good cause. It’s also important to find new ways to help current and potential donors and volunteers see why the need is urgent for your nonprofit organization. For example, using Instagram to present success stories is another way to balance the grim need with the positive results that can happen and you can hire an Instagram Advertising Agency.
So, what’s the best time to make an impact on Instagram for your nonprofit? Midweek is best, while Sundays are the least effective times for social engagement for charitable organizations. From about 2 to 4 p.m. are the best times to post, especially on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.
If you’re promoting consumer goods, Instagram presents the perfect way to tell a good story. That’s what makes the difference between “content” and “compelling content.” Rather than simply post a photo and description of the products you’re promoting, help your audience picture themselves using them. Work with influencer partners as well as your own in-house art department to coordinate fun, eye-catching and informative posts.
Whether it’s a flirty dress, container plants for the front porch, or a sleek new drill set, photos and engaging text help would-be customers see how your product will improve their lifestyle. Strike a balance between people who already follow you because they love your brand or store, and those who came across your post by searching for “#sundress” or “potted begonias.”
In general, the best time to post for consumer goods is Wednesday at about 4 p.m. As with other industries, Sundays remain the days in which posts receive the least amount of commercial engagements when it comes to consumer goods. But, as usual, make sure to track sales and inquiries over a period of several months, because your business might actually do well with Sunday browsers.
Don’t Ignore Your Own Common Sense
If your Instagram caters to a specific audience, following the social engagement trends blindly may do your account more harm than good. If you’re a brand or retail outlet that caters to musicians, for example, they may still be sleeping at 2 p.m.!
Experiment to determine which times and days get the best responses. It may be at 2 a.m., when those hypothetical band members are still winding down from gigs — or in the evening, when they’re killing time before it’s time to hit the stage.
Likewise, a crafting-oriented audience may be looking for ideas before the rest of the family wakes up, making early morning the most likely time you’ll get the kind of social engagement you’re looking for from your niche audience.
As with many marketing initiatives, generalized data shouldn’t supersede your own expectations. Many social media accounts are continually surprised by the actual active hours of their target audience, as well as the types of posts which get the most attention. Rather than seizing on what you’ve gleaned after a few posts, take the time to look for longer-term trends — say, after a month or so, as well as after conducting a quarterly and yearly analysis.