When Is the Finest Time to Submit on Instagram in 2021? [Cheat Sheet]

In high school, one of my friends was determined to find the perfect time to post her Instagram photos and maximize the number of likes she got. She was surprisingly scientific, posting at different times of the day and recording the “likes per minute” of her posts.

After weeks of testing, she found out which post time had the most likes, and from then on she was easily able to get 200 likes for all of her Instagram posts.

My friend’s more scientific method of maximizing her Instagram likes still makes me laugh to this day. But now that I’m a marketer, her desire to build a strong Instagram presence resonates with me too.

To build a sizable Instagram following, you need to create compelling content that your audience will actually crave. However, if you don’t post your content at the right time, most of them will never see it.

How do you find out the optimal post time for your specific audience?

The best way to find an ideal posting time is to test the timing of your posts to see which posting time is generating the most audience interest.

However, if you don’t have enough resources or time to run your own tests, Sprout Social, a social media management platform with over 20,000 customers, is for you. Last year, they analyzed their customer data to determine what time and day their social media posts generated the most engagement. They also segmented the data according to social networks and industries.

If you look at the aggregated customer data for Instagram, you can see that the following days and times – in Central Daylight Time (CDT) – are ideal for generating the greatest 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 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. CDT. However, the level of engagement can change dramatically depending on what day of the week you post. The best days to post on Instagram are all day Wednesday, but especially around 11 a.m. and Friday from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m.

As mentioned above, the day of the week you post can change how much engagement you actually get from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., although 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. is considered the best time of day to post on Instagram.

Why? Think about the small differences in your daily mood and routine – that you may not notice – and how they affect your behavior. The same goes for anyone who follows your Instagram account. Here are some additional insights into optimal post timing using data from Sprout Social to show you what I mean:

  • When you post at 7:00 a.m. (CDT) Wednesday through Friday, engagement is highest – people usually check their phones right away when they wake up.
  • Posting CDT from 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. on weekdays also makes for a lot of engagement – people usually check their phones during lunch or when they run out of mental energy towards the end of the work day.
  • If you want to post on the weekends, post CDT around 10:00 AM on Saturday when people are having brunch or hanging out with their friends.

So don’t go through this period of time when you Instagram. Take into account both the day of the week and the industry you are in (we’ll get into the latter in a moment).

On average, here are the best times for Instagram during the week in each time zone around the world:

Best time to post on Instagram every day

  1. Sunday: 8 a.m. – 2 p.m. (although engagement on this day is generally low)
  2. Monday: 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
  3. Tuesday: 10 a.m. – 3 p.m., * 7 p.m.
  4. Wednesday: 7 a.m. – 4 p.m. (engagement tips between 11 a.m. – 2 p.m.)
  5. Thursday: 10 a.m. – 2 p.m., 6 p.m. – 7 p.m.
  6. Friday: * 9 a.m. – 2 p.m.
  7. Saturday: 9 a.m. – 11 a.m.

* = particularly high level of commitment

Would you like some simple marching orders based on this data? Post on Instagram Monday through Friday between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. That way, you will get the most consistent engagement.

Do you need a picture to help you develop a strategy? Check out this Sprout Social chart showing Global Instagram Engagement hotspots.

Instagram global engagement by Sprout Social

Source: Sprout Social

The above general data on optimal post timing is a great starting point for growing an engaged Instagram audience. However, if you want to get in more detail, the best times to post on Instagram are if your business is in the tech, B2C, education, healthcare, and nonprofit sectors. This is evident from research by Sprout Social.

Best times to post on Instagram for tech companies

  • Best time: Wednesday at 6:00 a.m. and 9:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. CDT, Friday from 7:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m.
  • Most consistent commitment: Tuesday evening to Wednesday afternoon, Friday from midnight to 10 p.m. CDT
  • The best day: Wednesday
  • Worst day: Sunday

Best times to post on Instagram for B2C businesses

  • Best time: Wednesday at 3 p.m. CDT
  • Most consistent commitment: Tuesday to Friday from 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. CDT
  • The best day: Wednesday
  • Worst day: Sunday

Best times to post on Instagram for education

  • Best time: Friday at 10:00 a.m. CDT
  • Most consistent commitment: Wednesday, Friday and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. CDT
  • The best day: Friday
  • Worst day: Sunday

Best times to post on Instagram for healthcare companies

  • Best time: Tuesday at 8:00 a.m. CDT
  • Constant commitment: Will depend on audience location and business niche
  • The best day: Tuesday
  • Worst day: Saturdays and Sundays

Best times to post on Instagram for nonprofits

  • Best times: Tuesday at 1 p.m. to 3 p.m., Wednesday at 2 p.m. CDT
  • Constant commitment: Monday to Friday from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. CDT
  • The best day: Wednesday
  • Worst day: Sunday

Every brand’s audience is different. To build a sizeable, engaged Instagram audience, you need to know who your followers are. One of the best ways to get to know your audience and get their attention is to know exactly when they want to surf the app.

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in February 2018 but was updated on January 28, 2021 for completeness and freshness.

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