We analyzed more than 5.5 million Instagram posts sent through Buffer to pinpoint the best time, day, and post format for maximum engagement.
You will learn
- Which days and times are generally best for posting
- The post format that gets the most engagement
- How to use analytics to figure out the best time to reach your specific audience
There are many factors to consider when it comes to posting on Instagram — but the one that often feels like a make-or-break decision is what time to post your content.
It's a fair concern — the last thing you want is to spend the time and resources it takes to come up with a showstopper piece of content only to post it in a social media dead zone that results in… crickets.
Sharing Instagram Stories, Reels, feed posts, and carousels at optimal times for engagement is an important consideration in your social media strategy. If your content immediately makes it to your target audience’s feed while they're around to engage with it, it’s more likely to succeed.
It's why we combed through the median engagement rate of over 5.5 million Instagram posts sent through Buffer: to uncover which days and times are more likely to yield engagement (along with which post formats get the most likes, comments, and shares).
With all that in mind, let's dig into everything you need to know about when you should be posting on Instagram — including how to figure out the best time for your audience, whether you’re a marketer, creator, influencer, or casual Instagrammer.
Visually plan your content calendar and make your profile a "must-follow" with Buffer's suite of Instagram scheduling tools.
Is there a best time to post on Instagram?
Let's get this out of the way before we begin: There's no universal best time to post for guaranteed success on Instagram — if only it were that easy. However, our analysis showed us that there are certain days and times that tend to yield more engagement than others.
Before we dig into those numbers, let's discuss why engagement matters.
Each section of the app (the main Instagram feed, Stories, Instagram Reels, and the Explore page) is governed by a separate algorithm. One of the most important “signals” for the various Instagram algorithms is engagement.
Engagement — likes, comments, shares, and saves — on your content tells the app that your content is resonating with people. In turn, Instagram will show your content to more people like those who have already engaged.
This is particularly true in the public discovery pages, Explore and Reels. And getting your content in those spaces is often a fast track to Instagram growth.
So while Instagram timing, or post recency, is not as crucial as it once was (R.I.P chronological feed), it’s still an important factor to consider when developing your social media marketing strategy.
Ready to dig into the numbers?
The best times to post on Instagram
The graph above breaks down the week into hourly chunks. The darkest blue blocks are the time slots with the highest engagement. The light blue to white blocks are the time slots with the lowest engagement.
The earliest hours of the day are at the bottom of the graph, starting from midnight at the very bottom.
At a glance, you'll see that audience behavior is pretty predictable, depending on the day of the week. For example, on weekdays, engagement suddenly picks up at 7 a.m. as people wake up and check their phones.
It peters out slightly as the day wears on and they're at work, though there is a slight uptick at around midday, during lunch breaks. Engagement picks up slightly in the early evenings. On Thursdays and Fridays, there's suddenly an engagement spike at 4 p.m. — likely when they mentally check out of work a bit earlier as the weekend nears.
Weekends are completely different. On Saturdays and Sundays, our data shows that engagement drops significantly, with some slightly more engaged times on Saturday morning and Sunday evening — though these weekend peaks are nothing close to the weekday engagement levels.
The best time to post on Instagram on Monday
The numbers suggest the best time slots on Mondays for engagement are mornings when people wake up between 7 a.m. and 8 a.m., with two more (albeit smaller) peaks at 4 p.m. and 8 p.m.
- ⏰ Peak Instagram engagement time on Monday: 7 a.m.
The best time to post on Instagram on Tuesday
On Tuesday, the data suggests that the early mornings are peak times, with a hotspot making 7 a.m. a great time to post content. There is another (slightly lower) engagement peak in the early evening at 6 p.m.
- ⏰ Peak Instagram engagement time on Tuesday: 7 a.m.
The best time to post on Instagram on Wednesday
Wednesday is fairly similar to Monday, with a solid hotspot from 7 a.m. to 8 a.m., with no real peaks later in the day.
- ⏰ Peak Instagram engagement time on Wednesday: 7 a.m.
The best time to post on Instagram on Thursday
On Thursdays, the data suggests the best posting times are 7 a.m., 8 a.m., and 4 p.m.
- ⏰ Peak Instagram engagement time on Thursday: 7 a.m.
The best time to post on Instagram on Friday
On Fridays, the numbers show that there are slightly more high engagement time slots than the other days of the week. 7 a.m. and 8 a.m. are still great times to post, as is 4 p.m. People are clearly checking out of their workday early come end-of-week.
- ⏰ Peak Instagram engagement time on Friday: 4 p.m.
The best time to post on Instagram on Saturday
Saturday engagement pales in comparison to weekdays, but if you do need to share a post, 7 a.m. is probably the best time for it. Engagement picks up again slightly at 4 p.m. and 8 p.m.
- ⏰ Peak Instagram engagement time on Saturday: 7 a.m.
The best time to post on Instagram on Sunday
Sunday is also a quiet time on the app, with Instagram users indulging in slower mornings — the higher engagement times are in the evening, from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.
- ⏰ Peak Instagram engagement time on Sunday: 7 p.m.
This is where social media scheduling tools like Buffer really shine. Experiment by systematically going through the times on the list above, scheduling a post, and tracking its performance to see what works best for your specific audience.
What is the best day of the week to post on Instagram?
You really can't go wrong with sharing content on Instagram on weekdays. But Monday and Friday are an inch about the rest of the week for engagement times.
Comparatively, the worst time of the week to post on Instagram is on a weekend, with Saturday and Sunday engagement significantly lower than the rest of the week.
What is the best time to post Reels on Instagram?
The best days and times to post Reels align with the above graphs, but it's also worth considering that people treat different segments of the Instagram app a little differently.
An update on the algorithm by Head of Instagram Adam Mosseri offers some interesting insight on this front: “People tend to look for their closest friends in Stories, use Explore to discover new content and creators, and be entertained in Reels.”
It stands to reason, then, that people are looking to be entertained at certain times of day, and catch up with friends, family, and their favorite creators at other times.
If you're looking for a slight boost in Reels engagement, we recommend testing out the peak evening times to share your videos. Your followers will have slightly more time to scroll and enjoy your content before bedtime than they would in the peak morning slots when they need to rush off to work.
The best type of content on Instagram
This one may surprise you: while video is often touted as the next frontier in social media, our data revealed that carousels perform a head and shoulders above photos and videos.
Here's our theory as to why: carousels — or multi-photo posts — offer more to engage with. Instagrammers often use this post format to share photo dumps and life updates, the kind of content friends, family, and followers will be inclined to weigh in on with comments and reactions.
The best time for you to post on Instagram
While all of the above time frames can be useful in helping you put together a posting schedule as you’re just starting out, take it all with a pinch of salt.
There are better ways to figure out when your audience is online and engaging — and these times might not align with the general guidelines above.
How to find the best time for you to post on Instagram
Ultimately, there is no one-size-fits-all for the best time to post on Instagram. Your peak engagement time will likely differ from someone else’s.
For example, my Instagram audience’s activity level is pretty steady on work days and on the weekends. They’re less likely to be online during work hours, and engagement usually peaks in the early evening. They’re slightly more active on Wednesday, with activity peaking at 6 p.m. in my time zone (SAST).
For Buffer’s Instagram following, things look a little different. “We’ve found that posting between 8 a.m. and 11 a.m. PST on weekdays works well for us, though Mondays at 7 p.m. PST are our best engagement time,” says Social Media Manager Mitra Mehvar. For ease of comparison, those times are 11 a.m. - 2 p.m. EST, and 10 p.m. EST.
“In general, I’ve found that weekends have had a lower engagement for us so I usually don’t post on Saturday and Sunday,” she adds.
Option 1: Instagram Insights
To get similar stats for your own audience via the Instagram analytics baked into the app, head over to Instagram Insights on the mobile app:
- Go to your Instagram profile and click on the hamburger menu (the three horizontal lines) on the top right of your screen.
- Tap on ‘Insights’.
- From there, click on ‘Total followers’
- Scroll down to the bottom of this page and look for ‘Most active times’. You’ll be able to toggle between hours for every day of the week or look at specific days.
Option 1: Buffer Analytics
Social media analytics tools like Buffer will offer deeper insights. If you’re a Buffer user, our Analytics offer even deeper insights into the best times to post on Instagram. To find yours:
- Head over to analyze.buffer.com in your desktop browser and make sure you’re logged into your Buffer account.
- Click on ‘Instagram’ on the left side of your screen. There’s a host of important data to dig into here, including post performance and audience demographics.
- Click on ‘Answers’. Here, you’ll find insights on a whole lot more than the best time to post (think which post types are the best for you, or how often you should be posting) but the best time to post is the second box from the top.
Here are some of the Answers for our Instagram account in Buffer"
Your checklist for high-performing Instagram posts
While figuring out the best time to post for maximum engagement is an important part of your Instagram marketing strategy, it’s not the be-all and end-all.
As we unpack in our guide to the Instagram algorithm(s) there are a huge number of factors to take into account if you want your content to perform well. Here’s our checklist for high-performing Instagram content:
- Make the most of Instagram’s new features: As with the launch of Instagram Stories and Reels, the platform loves showcasing its new features. Using them could mean getting your content in front of new audiences.
- Experiment with post types: Regularly trying out a new type of content will help you figure out what resonates the most with your audience. Plus, it’s a great way to repurpose your content.
- Don’t neglect your caption: According to a fascinating report by HubSpot, captions that performed the best were either very long (over 2,000 characters) or very short (less than 20). Using emojis in captions was also shown to boost engagement.
- Use hashtags: Studies show that posts with hashtags receive higher engagement than those without. Buffer’s Hashtag Manager will make adding your favorite ones your caption or comments a breeze.
- Prioritize authentic engagement: Rather than wasting time and resources on Instagram algorithm hacks, focus on fostering meaningful engagement with your followers. That means replying to comments and messages, resharing their mentions of you, and even interacting with them on their own content.
- Analyze to see what’s working: Use Instagram Insights to see which of your posts have had the most engagement. Buffer's analytics will also help you uncover your best posts (those with the highest engagement) in just a few clicks.
What have you found most helpful when determining your best time to post on Instagram? Let us know @buffer on all our social media accounts!