When Is the Best Time to Post 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 to maximize the amount of likes she got. She was surprisingly scientific about it, posting at different times of the day and jotting down each of her posts’ “likes per minute.”

After weeks of testing, she figured out which post time raked in the most likes, and, from then on, she could easily get 200 likes on all her Instagram posts.

My friend’s rather scientific method to maximize her Instagram likes still makes me chuckle to this day. But since I’m a marketer now, her desire to build a strong Instagram presence also resonates with me.

New Data: Instagram Engagement in 2020

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

So how do you figure out the optimal post time for your specific audience?

The best way to find an ideal posting time is by testing the timing of your posts to see which post time generates the most audience engagement.

But if you don’t have enough resources or time to conduct your own tests, Sprout Social, a social media management platform with over 20,000 customers, has you covered. Last year, they analyzed their customer data to see what time and day their social media posts generated the most engagement. They also segmented the data by social network and industry.

Looking at their aggregate customer data for Instagram, you can see that the following days and times — in Central Daylight Time (CDT) — are ideal for generating the most engagement on the social network:

As stated above, although 10 AM – 3 PM is considered the best time of day to post on Instagram, the day of the week on which you post can change how much engagement you actually get from 10 AM to 3 PM.

Why? Think about the little differences in your daily mood and routine — the ones you might not realize you have — and how they affect your behavior. The same goes for everyone following your Instagram account. Here are some additional insights about optimal post timing from data by Sprout Social to show you what I mean:

  • Posting at 7:00 AM CDT from Wednesday to Friday generates some of the highest engagement — people usually check their phones right when they wake up.
  • Posting from 11:00 AM to 3:00 PM CDT during the weekdays also generates a lot of engagement — people usually check their phones during lunch or when they start to run out of mental energy toward the end of the work day.
  • If you want to post on the weekends, post on Saturday around 10:00 AM CDT when people eat brunch or hang out with their friends.

So, when Instagramming, don’t go by this time range alone. Consider both the day of the week and the industry you’re in (we’ll talk about the latter in just a minute).

On average, here are the best times to Instagram during the week within each time zone globally:

* = particularly high levels of engagement

Want some easy marching orders based on this data? Post to Instagram between 9 AM and 4 PM from Monday to Friday. You’ll get the most consistent engagement that way. 

Need a visual to strategize around? Check out this Sprout Social chart which shows Global Instagram Engagement hotspots.

Instagram global engagement from Sprout Social

Source: Sprout Social

The general data above about optimal post timing is a great starting point for growing an engaged Instagram audience. But if you want to get more granular, here are the best times to post on Instagram if your organization is in the technology, B2C, education, healthcare, and non-profit industries, according to Sprout Social’s research.

Best Times to Post on Instagram for Technology Companies

  • Best Time: Wednesday at 6:00 AM and 9:00 to 10:00 AM CDT, Friday from 7:00 AM to 10:00 AM
  • Most Consistent Engagement: Tuesday evening through Wednesday afternoon, Friday from midnight to 10:00 PM CDT
  • Best Day: Wednesday
  • Worst Day: Sunday

Best Times to Post on Instagram for B2C Companies

  • Best Time: Wednesday at 3:00 PM CDT
  • Most Consistent Engagement: Tuesday through Friday from 11:00 AM to 3:00 PM CDT
  • Best Day: Wednesday
  • Worst Day: Sunday

Best Times to Post on Instagram for Educational Organizations

  • Best Time: Friday at 10:00 AM CDT
  • Most Consistent Engagement: Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday from 9:00 AM to 9:00 PM CDT
  • Best Day: Friday
  • Worst Day: Sunday

Best Times to Post on Instagram for Healthcare Companies

  • Best Time: Tuesday at 8:00 AM CDT
  • Most Consistent Engagement: Will depend on audience location and business niche
  • Best Day: Tuesday
  • Worst Day: Saturday and Sunday

Best Times to Post on Instagram for Non-Profit Organizations

  • Best Times: Tuesday at 1:00 to 3:00 PM, Wednesday at 2:00 PM CDT
  • Most Consistent Engagement: Monday to Friday from 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM CDT
  • Best Day: Wednesday
  • Worst Day: Sunday

Every brand’s audience is different. To build a sizable, engaged Instagram audience, you need to know who your followers are. And one of the best ways to get to know your audience and capture their attention is by knowing exactly when they like to surf the app. 

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

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