As inspiring as it is to read about those people that went from a few dozen followers to the online powerhouses they are today, good odds that won’t necessarily apply to you. It was a simpler time for most of them, while social media was – at the time – barely getting a leg off the ground. Grit and determination can help, but it won’t carry you through success no matter how badly you want it. Work smart, not hard – but there’s no problem with doubling down on that as well.
Why Does Post Time Matter?
Post time determines who’s up and available to see your content, and you’ll want to capitalize on this as much as possible. Think of it like a book cover: No matter how great or crap the story is, you’ll always judge it by what you see – and you only judge that if you get to see it. If users can’t view your posts, it really won’t matter how good your material is. Instagram sorts by prioritizing fresh content, and they might not even see your material if they’re following plenty of other, modernized users.
While some people would be content with a small-yet-active following, certain benefits only become available at a certain point of popularity. Also, you’ll have a better time making yourself more available to the majority of accounts rather than you pulling them off their normal peak hours. Not to say the content created wouldn’t be worth it, but plenty of others with the same value are also making themselves more accessible and convenient to their own follower bases.
The General Peak Hours For Most People
While this might seem initially daunting for you, it’s actually a surprisingly intuitive brainstorm. Just think on yourself, and what time you’re most certainly using your phones or laptops. Extend it to your friends and the like, disregarding the different time zones. Most people check their phones when they wake up, for example. And with that in mind, it’s safe to assume that peak hours would be around the 5AM-7AM mark. Any later than that on a weekday means that people are probably busy commuting to school or work, which leads to a sharp general engagement decline past that point in time. We could also infer weekends would have more activity around lunch time, because while some people sleep late, this tends to be the days where we meet up with our buddies for drinks or lunch together.
This gets a bit different across countries, so you’ve also got to transpose this to your main follower demographic base. It’s as easy as checking out Instagram Insights in the application. Unfortunately, you need to convert your existing Instagram account to the business format. Fortunately, it’s not really that much of a hassle to reconvert your account back. Also, plenty of third-party software like Keyhole, Hootsuite, and Hype Auditor can provide the same functions as the native Instagram extension.
These third-party apps also offer other strong analytical metrics not available to the insights functionality such as audience demographics and engagement rates. Audience demographic is a very decisive factor in post time, keeping you updated on the breakdown of your audience – this includes location and main active timeframes. Engagement rates provide the best breakdown of authentic activity for your account. While this will get skewed as follower count improves, engagement is the premier determinant for figuring out the best post times for activity.
More Specific Cases To Consider
Peak hours for an individual are determined by their regular schedules and how these manifest in their weekly lives. For example, educational posts would likely be more applicable and appealing on weekdays, and as a result would tank on the weekends as everyone rests. On the other hand, vacation posts would be great for aspiring travel buddies on weekdays if they’re planning their own outings, but weekends for the ones who just want to sit and scroll from the comfort of their own living rooms.
There is a huge difference between network traffic and engagement, and you have to decide what you as an influencer and brand want to prioritize. Do you want a consistent following or a better broadcast range? What kind of products, services, or content are you producing and advertising?
Business accounts would tend to prioritize network traffic, and big-name brands often buy posts from macro influencers and above to supplement their online presence. If you want to advertise general or one-off products primarily, network traffic would be the best way to go. The bigger reach and market size would be a better return for the investment.
On the other end, engagement is also excellent for users. Influencers below the mega level (1M+) still retain some semblance of control and interaction with their followers, who were more often than not drawn to their accounts by personalities and content rather than economic value or practicality. The niche, focused nature of individual accounts allow products and investments to supplement the existing outputs rather than the opposite case for its counterpart. The investment is done gradually, but the stable base allows an awesome foundation to move upwards.
Also, what is your target demographic? Something I didn’t mention previously was that peak hours are relatively standardized, but the bulk of activity occurs in Central Daylight Time (CDT) which is most in line with Western nations like the US and UK, two very tech and social media heavy countries.
If you want to begin in a specific market, you need to determine who you’re going for. It is very important that you don’t ever disregard the Western social media Instagram presence, as they are a very lucrative market for most other internet connected regions in the world.
You could also try on your own, rather than going by provided scripts to follow. Each niche in their specific target demographics have their own little quirks that might make certain assumptions inapplicable for their unique cases. It ideally shouldn’t be something too general, because your content could get lost in millions of other posts. Just don’t force yourself to min-max it and have fun!