When is the Best Time to Post on Instagram in 2021 – [Cheat Sheet]

Instagram has changed its algorithm over the last few years, making it much more difficult for you to share visible posts on Instagram. It gives top priority to posts made by users’ friends and family, with less likelihood of business posts being added to people’s queues. It provides even less weighting to business posts that include links likely to take people away from the Instagram app. To succeed on Instagram, businesses need to play the game well. And that includes picking the best time to post on Instagram, targeting a time when people look at their Instagram accounts, but which doesn’t coincide with the time when most people upload their Instagram content.

Are there any apparent trends – a “best” time on a “best day? 

When is the Best Time to Post on Instagram in 2021:

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The Best Time to Post on Instagram in 2021

You are probably hoping that we can give you a definitive time to make your Instagram posts. Unfortunately, life isn’t that simple – there are too many variables.

Most of the studies we have looked at did pick a “best” time for your Instagram post. Please note, though, these do depend on time zone, and not all posts use the same time zone in their recommendations. The bulk of these surveys stated CT (Central Time US) in their findings.

Although you will presumably post more than once per week, various studies suggest the following times as the best times to post on Instagram:

Best day to post on Instagram: Thursday

Best time to post to Instagram:

Considering the variations in the different studies, it is better to look at a wider selection of times, rather than just a best time to post on Instagram – you are going to post more than once a week anyhow if you want to succeed.

Engagement is Usually Your Number 1 Priority on Instagram

Although each firm is different, most businesses aim to build as much engagement as possible on their Instagram account. Traditional Instagram engagement includes likes and comments. More recently, people have begun to add views, shares, and direct messages as well. Then you can further add the above types of engagement of Instagram spin-offs, such as Instagram Stories and IGTV.

This means that there is no longer a clear-cut definition of engagement, but it does include all interactions between your social followers/customers and your business on Instagram.

HubSpot data shows the surprising fact that the average Instagram post receives 5,963 likes. You might look at your own Instagram account statistics and feel profoundly disillusioned by that fact. However, that number is the mean – heavily influenced by viral posts shared by influencers. HubSpot found that the median number of likes received on an Instagram post is much nearer 100; meaning that half of all Instagram posts receive fewer than 100 likes.

The mean figures for comments on an Instagram post are similarly inflated by influencers. When you include these mega-posts, the average Instagram post earns 100 comments (up to 150 comments for video posts). If you remove viral videos from the calculations, though, the median number of comments per video post falls to 4.

There is a Big Difference Between Content and Compelling Content

One of the most important facts to come from the above figures is that there is little point in creating content for the sake of it. Compelling content can perform superbly and generate exceptional engagement rates. Run-of-the-mill content is scarcely worth the effort of creating it.

But you must add posting times into the mix. You might create compelling content. But if you share it at the wrong time, nobody will see it. If people don’t see it, they can’t like it, share it, or comment on it.

There will have undoubtedly been much amazing content shared on Instagram over the years that have vanished without a trace, simply because nobody got the opportunity to see just how good it was. This is even more relevant now with the current Instagram algorithm.

Studies on the Best Time to Post on Instagram

Several organizations have carried out investigations over the last couple of years to determine the best time to post on Instagram. Naturally, they don’t fully agree with each other, but some clear trends show through.

Among the studies we have looked at are:

Key Considerations When looking for the Best Times to Post on Instagram

  1. Day of the Week

There can be some variation in Instagram engagement, even at the same time of the day on different days of the week. For example, you might be surprised to see 5 AM included in the above list. The reason for this is that people often check their phone for messages as soon as they wake during the working week. This means that people are more likely to check their Instagram early in the morning Monday to Friday than at weekends. But even Monday can have lower engagement, as people are rushing to get the week started, and have less time to look at Instagram before work on a Monday.

  1. Breaks in the Workday

You will find that many people check their Instagram during their work breaks, particularly at lunchtime.

Similarly, people’s interest in their work flags in the late afternoon and quite a few turn their attention to Instagram instead.

  1. Use Time Zones to Your Advantage

The wider the geographical spread of your audience, the less critical set posting times become. However, if your target audience is in one location, make sure you use that time zone as the basis for setting your Instagram posting times, even if it isn’t your own time zone.

If you want to make an Instagram post at wake-up time, you want to make it the time when the bulk of your audience is just waking and getting up for the day.

  1. Follow Your Specific Audience

It’s all okay to follow these “best practice” posting times. But if your audience is different from a typical audience, then these posting times are irrelevant for your account.

If you have a Business Instagram account (as every business and influencer should) you have access to Instagram Insights. Go to the Followers section of Instagram Insights, and you will discover information about when your audience is most active on the platform. It makes sense that you structure your posting practices to match this.

Some of the social media management platforms, such as Later, also include data about when your Instagram audience is online.

  1. Frequency of Posting on Instagram

You need to post regularly if you want your Instagram account to appear fresh. This can be as much as one to three posts per day. Share a mix of different post types, making sure that you don’t come across as too interested in just making sales. You need to focus on producing quality posts ahead of bulk quantity, however.

  1. Different Sectors Prefer Posts at Different Times

To add to the confusion, your best posting times will depend on the sector in which you operate.  For example, HubSpot’s data shows a clear variation:

Sprout Social looks at a few additional sectors:

More Detailed List of Best Posting Times

While deciding a single best time to post on Instagram is tricky, and in all honesty, pointless, most of these studies have come up with a series of good posting times. Here are some suggestions (again, all expressed in CT and ignoring sectors):

1. HubSpot

Times marked with * offer particularly high levels of engagement.

2. Sprout Social

3. Later

Source: later.com

Unfortunately, as you can see, there is no single best time to post on Instagram. However, you can get a general idea of popular times from the recent studies, and then combine it with your actual data from your Instagram Insights to get a good guide to the Instagram habits of your audience.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the best time to post on Instagram?

There have been quite a few studies on what is the best time to post on Instagram. Most of the reviews we looked at picked a "best" time for your Instagram post. Please note, though, these do depend on time zone. Some of the times suggested by studies are:
HubSpot - between 2 pm and 3 pm
Sprout Social - Wednesday at 11 am, and Friday at 10–11 am
Expert Voice - Wednesday: 11 am and 3 pm
Later – 9 am-11 am EST

Is it bad to post on Instagram at night?

As a general rule, posting on Instagram at night is unlikely to get you your biggest audience. Most studies show the best time to post on Instagram as being mid-morning to early afternoon. However, this is simply a general rule. If your audience is different from a typical following, then best practice posting times are irrelevant for your account. Also, time zones are important. If your audience is overseas, then posting in your night might be the best time for them.

What is the worst time to post on Instagram?

If your followers are "typical" Instagrammers, then the worst time to post on the platform will be in the early hours of the morning (1 am to 5 am). Yet some studies differ on this. Later found good results from posts at 2 am Tuesday, and 5 am Friday. Hubspot found high levels of engagement for 5 am posts, Tuesday to Friday. It all comes back to your specific audience and when they are online.

Is Monday a bad time to post on Instagram?

There can be some variation in Instagram engagement, even at the same time of the day on different days of the week. People are more likely to check their Instagram early in the morning Monday to Friday than on weekends. But Monday can have lower engagement, with people rushing to get the week started, and having less time to look at Instagram before work on a Monday.

Should I post every day on Instagram?

It is always good to be a regular poster on Instagram; however, unlike Twitter, you can easily overdo your Instagram posting. It is more important to have a regular posting schedule than it is to post at specific times. Your followers will learn to expect new posts from you at particular times. You probably should aim to post at least once daily. Some brands post up to 30 times daily. Ideally, you want your followers to see a few posts each day.

Does Instagram have a post limit?

For all practical purposes, Instagram doesn't have a post limit. You can make as many posts as you feel appropriate for your audience. Instagram does have limits for account activity, however. It sets a limit of 200 follows and unfollows per day. You can't make more than 1000 likes per day (although it sometimes warns you for less than this). Instagram also doesn't want you to make more than 180-200 comments per day, and they get particularly unhappy if you continually repeat the same comment.