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The Best Time to Post on Instagram in 2021

This article discusses how marketers can work out the best time to post content on Instagram, enabling them to reach target audiences and optimize engagement rates.
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Simon Høiberg

CEO & Founder

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8 min read

Instagram has around 1.074 billion users worldwide in 2021, growing by over 70 million since 2020 to hit the one billion mark for the first time. Initially, the platform was not forecast to hit such a high user count until 2024, but subscriptions have accelerated since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The vast majority of Instagram users are younger people, with over 30% between 25 and 34 years old. Of those users, 42% check their account multiple times per day, and 50% use Instagram Explore to find new content and accounts to follow.

Brands must have content on Instagram if they want to engage with younger audiences.
However, if you don't post content at the right time, most of them will never discover it. With platform competition continuing to grow, businesses need to figure out what to post and the optimal time to do so.

This article discusses how marketers can work out the best time to post content on Instagram, enabling them to reach target audiences and optimize engagement rates.

The Instagram Explore Page

On the Explore feed, the Instagram algorithm recommends content that users might be interested in seeing.

Appearing on the feed means you will get a spike in reach, engagement, and impressions.

Posts that appear on the Explore page will include those similar to others that a user follows, types they engage with most often, and ones with high engagement.

To achieve high engagement, you want to post content at the optimum time for your audience.

To get on the Instagram Explore page, marketers should:

  1. Understand your target market and share content they will engage with
  2. Use prominent formats like Reels
  3. Post when your followers and target audience are online
  4. Use the right tags
  5. Review your analytics regularly

As high engagement is a critical part of the Explore algorithm, knowing when your followers are most active on Instagram will help new audiences discover your content. There's a high chance that prospective audiences will be online at the same time as your existing audience.

Best Times to Post on Instagram

Social media management platform, Sprout Social analyzed customer data in 2020 to understand what days and times Instagram posts generate the most engagement. The chart below shows the results of the research.

The data shows that the average best time to post on Instagram is Tuesday between 11 am and 2 pm CDT or a similar time across other weekdays. However, the research digs deeper into the results and shows there are some industry variances.

For example, the optimum engagement time for Restaurants is between 9 am and 1 pm on a Monday (CDT), which is perhaps when people plan the week. However, the top engagement times for educational organizations are 8 am to 12 pm Tuesday (CDT) or 5 pm to 8 pm on Tuesday.

The average times indicate when you should post on Instagram, but understanding your industry and when your audience is active is equally important.

How to get insights from your Instagram account

To get insights into your Instagram audience and understand the best time to post, you can use FeedHive to analyse peaks in followers and how your engagements are distributed over time.

  1. Sign up for a free account.
  2. Add your Instagram account under the Socials page.
  3. Get insights on the analytics page.

Instagram does not show posts in chronological order, so posting when your audience is active can significantly affect engagement. In the 2021 Instagram algorithm update, only 10% of your followers can see your post.

The reason is that Instagram favours accounts that can keep their followers as active and engaged as possible. When your target or prospective audiences are online, regular, high-quality posts are the key to success.

During Instagram's Creator Week in June 2021, Adam Mosseri said that posting two feed posts per week and two stories per day is ideal for building a following on the app.

Create an Instagram calendar that maps the best times to post with different types of content.
If you understand what your audience wants to hear and when they want to hear it, less can be more.

Can you post too much on Instagram?

If your content is relevant to the target audience and high-quality, you can post more often than average.
However, Instagram users can get frustrated with brands if they post several photos in quick succession from a single event.

It's considered a modern-day version of spam and can get penalized by the Instagram algorithm.

If you want to post multiple photos, the best option is to put them into a single post using an Instagram slideshow.
Doing it this way means you can publish a post at the optimum time for your audience, without spamming them, while offering quality content.

How to work out your own best posting times

While you should consider the times we've spoken about in this article, you need to think about your brand audience to optimize your Instagram success.

For example, if you are in the United Kingdom but much of your audience is in the United States, posting at 9 am on a Tuesday with an eight-hour timezone difference won't work.

When is your target audience awake?

In the Audience tab of Instagram Insights, you can see information about the location of your audience. As we said earlier, you will need a business or creator account to access this, so make sure you set that up first.

Once you log in to your insights, you can get the top locations by country and city. As you start to understand where your followers are located, you can match that to their timezones and work out the best time to schedule your posts.

Combining these two visualizations will help you work towards the perfect audience engagement time for your posts. It's possible that your audience is unique and doesn't follow the average trends. If so, there are two possible causes.

First, you might be posting at the wrong times to start with, meaning they don't have anything to engage with during the expected peak periods. Second, niche industries could display anomalies.

Regardless of the cause, experiment with your post timings until you get them right. For example, deploy some A/B testing to see what times get stronger engagement.

Study the competition

Your competitors can unknowingly provide a lot of insight into the best times to post on Instagram.
If others in your industry are constantly getting high engagement from their posts, you can copy their scheduling strategy and see if it works for you.

As long as you have high-quality content, there is a possibility of stealing their target audience.

The alternative is the post at times when your competitors are not active.
This is a risky strategy as you don't know whether audiences are engaged at that time, but it could pay off if you are filling stories by yourself.

Summary

The times and tips covered in this article should help you plan your Instagram marketing strategy.

Although the data shows peak engagement times, the critical element to success is understanding your audience and how they interact with the social media platform. Experiment with schedules and content and get to know your followers.

Over time, you will learn what works best and how to maximize engagement and views.

Next step is to start posting.

FeedHive makes this incredibly easy with the Recurring Posting Plan

You can easily create a posting plan according to the findings you've discovered.
Now, fill them with Instagram posts, and see the result in action as they are delivered on Instagram.

As you learn more about your audience, and the results from these posts, it's easy to adjust the posting plan to your findings.

Set up Instagram with FeedHive

Setting up Instagram with FeedHive is easy.
And the best part is - you can get started for free!

The first 7 days you will be on a trial which allows you to try out all the cool features of FeedHive 🤩

After that, you can choose to upgrade, or you can continue to use FeedHive for free and keep posting on Instagram.

See more about setting up Instagram on FeedHive.

That's it!
Knowing your audience and understanding when to post on Instagram is a great first step to start expanding beyond your audience and get more reach.

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