You know the opening scene in the Lion King where Rafiki, in firm warrior I pose, presents Simba to the kingdom?
The best time to post on Instagram is sort of like that. Except every marketing blog thinks it’s Rafiki. And Simba [aka the data] is like “I’m not so sure about this…”
So when is the best time to post on Instagram? There are approximately 39587 answers to this across the web. So who is right, who is wrong, and who just copied and pasted someone else’s data? Read on to find out:
The best time to post on Instagram, according to seven different sources.
Breakdowns by day, week, industry, time zone, and post type.
Tips and considerations when identifying your best time.
Asking when the best time is to post on Instagram is like asking how much Google Ads cost. There are too many factors to give a definitive answer and it’s a moving target. It all depends on:
Day of the week (and even month of the year and trends of the year).
Lifestyle and preferences of your followers.
The goal of your post.
The type of post (regular post, Story, Reel, IGTV, Live).
The thousands of signals used by the Insta algo.
So the answer is yes, but that it’s different for every account. Even still, benchmark data can give you a solid starting point, and after slogging through the jungle of posts out there on this question, I came out with two core sources with up-to-date data: Later and Sprout Social. And make no mistake—each of these resources emphasizes the importance of identifying your own best time (we’ll get to that later).
Of course, this chart is the gazillion foot view, because we’ve got best times to post by day of the week, region of the US, vertical, and more. So put your helmet on to contain the blast that is your brain exploding.
This post includes conclusions drawn by Later, Sprout Social, ExpertVoice, Hootsuite, Planoly, Statusbrew, and Influencer Marketing Hub. I was surprised to find that Hootsuite, Buffer, and Coschedule did not have benchmark data on this.
Later’s report from August 2021 is based on a study of 35M posts, excluding Reels and IGTV.
Best time of day: 3am-6am
Best day: Sunday
Best day and time: Sunday 6am
Worst day: Weds and Thurs
When I first saw these times, I thought it was a mistake. They’re super early! What’s the deal?
Later says that for most businesses their Instagram marketing strategy is to post when their audiences are most active (9am-1pm), but this is when competition is highest. So if you post prior to that, you are likely to get more engagement, which will lead the algorithm to favor your post and give you a headstart in ranking. In addition, you make it more likely that you’ll show up in your followers’ Feeds on their first scroll of the day.
Here is Later’s day-by-day breakdown:
Second best time
1am, 3-6am, 7pm
3am, 5-6am, 10pm
1am, 3am, 6am, 11pm
2am, 6-7am, 10pm
Sprout Social’s best times to post on Instagram come from a study on over 20,000 of its users’ accounts. Its findings are opposite Later’s, as it takes the traditional approach of posting while engagement is high.
Best time of day: 11am-12pm
Best day: Tuesday
Best day & time: Tues 11am-2pm
Worst day: Sunday
It’s interesting to see that engagement in the evening starts to trail off earlier and earlier as we go from Monday to Sunday and that engagement starts earliest on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday.
Here’s Sprout Social’s day-by-day breakdown:
Second best time
11am – 12pm
11am – 12pm
11am – 12pm
11am – 12pm
10am – 1pm
9am – 4pm
8am; 4 – 6pm
ExpertVoice provides slightly different times but are more closely aligned with Later’s data. It doesn’t cite a source, other than an image sourced from “Latergramme,” which became Later back in 2016, so I’m not sure how accurate this information is.
Best time of day: 9am-5pm
Best day: Wednesday
Best day & time: Weds 5am, 11am, 3pm
Worst day: Monday
Best time to post on Instagram
11am – 5pm
5am; 9am; 6pm
5am; 11am; 3pm
5am; 11am; 3-4pm
5am; 9am; 4pm
10am – 2pm
Hootsuite doesn’t have any recent information based on data studies, but it says that overall, the best time to post on Instagram is 11am on Wednesday. It takes the same approach as Sprout Social—to post when engagement is highest. It also shares the times that work best for its own Instagram audience: 8am-12pm and 4pm-5pm—which translates to wake up and lunchtime on the west coast, and the start of and end of the workday on the east coast.
Sprout Social also shares the best times to post on Instagram for eight different verticals:
Second best time
Mon & Tues
Tues, Weds, Thurs
Travel & toursm
The variation among industries in this chart alone, and its differences with respect to the overall data shows you that the best time to post on Instagram for your specific business really is something you have to find out for yourself.
Using data from its app users, including likes, comments, saves, and followers, Planoly came up with ideal times to post to Instagram based on time zone. The implication here is that lifestyles vary geographically. I believe it! Doesn’t mean it doesn’t make the answer to this question even more complicated…
Planoly’s day-by-day breakdown:
Statusbrew had numbers on the best time to post to Instagram, but it just repurposed SproutSocial’s data and at times inaccurately. It does, however, share best times to post to IGTV and Instagram Live—for what it’s worth.
Best time to post to IGTV
8pm – 10pm
8pm – 10pm
8pm – 10pm
4am; 12pm; 2pm
10am; 6pm; 7pm
6am; 7am; 3pm
The best time to run an Instagram Live is Monday-Friday, 12pm or 7-9pm. Check out our tips on how to run an incredible Instagram Live session.
Influencer Marketing Hub provides the best time to post Reels based on a study of over 100,000 global Instagram post and engagement rates.
Here’s Influencer Marketing Hub’s day-by-day breakdown:
Best time to Post to Reels
6:00am, 10:00am, 10:00pm
2:00am, 4:00am, 9:00am
7:00am, 8:00am, 11:00pm
9:00am, 12:00pm, 7:00pm
4:00am, 12:00pm, 2:00pm
10:00am, 6:00pm, 7:00pm
6:00am, 7:00am, 3:00pm
Chances are, you’re looking to find the answer to this question because you are looking to get the most engagement from your posts. So in this section I’ll provide some tips on how to identify ideal posting times for your account as well as how to improve engagement with your posts.
So maybe you want to target lunchtime for your audience. But lunchtime where? In California? Boston? Instagram’s native analytics platform (Insights) can help you with this, since it shows you:
Most active times
With this information, you can see in which time zone your audience is most active and post accordingly (Planoly’s data would be useful here). Age range may also help in ballparking wake-up, idle, and bed times.
Insights are only available for business accounts. Learn how to set one up here.
Buyer personas are fictional characters that represent your customers as human beings—their lifestyle, occupation, hobbies, family, education level, interests, and more. This is essential for identifying the best times to post on Instagram. For example, maybe lunchtime isn’t the best time to post for your audience if they’re more likely to eat with others or work out on their lunch break. And evening is probably not best for parents who are busy with putting their kids to bed. More questions to consider:
Why do they go on Instagram?
How much time do they spend on Instagram?
Who else do they follow?
Do they follow 100 accounts? 1000?
When are they likely to actually engage with posts vs just scroll through
How many times a day do they check Instagram?
This information can help you to identify the best content to publish and when.
There are a number of social media management platforms out there that offer more analytics than Insights, and even allow you to schedule your Instagram posts. These include Later, Buffer, HubSpot, SproutSocial, Autogrammer, Schedugram, and Tailwind. Some even have a feature that suggests posting times, like Hootsuite:
On June 8, 2021, Instagram published an update explaining its algorithm works. It gathers together all of the recent posts shared by the people that person follows and then ranks them according to thousands of signals, including:
Your post: content, location, video length, likes, interest metrics.
You: who is engaging with you and how.
Their preferences and behaviors.
Their past interactions with you.
So if you want to show up in the Instagram Feed, recency pales in comparison to engagement. The post says “In Feed, the five interactions we look at most closely are how likely you are to spend a few seconds on a post, comment on it, like it, save it, and tap on the profile photo.”
Which leads to the next suggestion.
Clearly, we can see that it’s not about posting at the best time, but about creating the best posts. This increases your engagement signal strength over time which wins you algorithmic favor. Here are some ways to optimize for those five interactions mentioned above:
To get them to:
Spend a few seconds on the post: Draw them in with a compelling visual, get them reading with a great caption, and keep them engaged with a carousel or video.
Comment on it: Ask questions, like would you rather/what would you do, here’s mine/what’s yours, what’s your take, fill in the blank, caption this photo, and more.
Like it: Make the post useful, emotional, unique, visually appealing, and in line with your core values.
Save it: Share useful information, like tips, tutorials, and ideas they’ll want to refer back to.
Tap your profile pic: Use the ol’ link in bio, and make it a nice pic!
Focus on creating engaging and interesting content first, then optimize by posting at the right time. Posting the right content at the “wrong” time is much better than posting the wrong content at the exact right time. For more Instagram marketing tips and (lots more awesome) post ideas, head to Local Social Media Lab—it’s a gold mine!
Don’t forget about Instagram Stories! High quality is not essential here, and your Story is up 24/7.
Stay on top of Instagram’s new features—it’s always coming out with new ways to create great content.
Of course, if you’re looking to get targeted exposure and generate leads and sales through Instagram, I’d encourage you to look into paid methods. Check out our complete guide to advertising on Instagram and learn about how much they cost here.
When you have attractive, useful, emotionally engaging content that aligns with your audience’s goals, pain points, lifestyle, and values!
Just kidding…kind of.
Only you can find out the best time to post on Instagram for your account specifically, but I think the more important question to ask yourself first is: How important is it to know? If Instagram is a small part of your social media marketing strategy and you’re mainly just using it for brand awareness, you can probably just go with the traditional ballpark ranges (late morning, early afternoon) for your posts. If you rely heavily on social media to meet your marketing goals, you may want to try out Later’s approach of early posting, and get into the research, testing, and tools.
But the most important question to answer is: What are the best posts I can create for my followers? I know that’s not simple. But luckily the information and other posts linked to in this post will equip you to find this out and execute.
That’s all I got—if you know of any recent studies I missed, let me know in the comments!