Jun 27, 2019 11:58:56 AM
Instagram is an image-based social media platform, developed by Facebook and launched in October 2010. According to Statista, in the first quarter of 2013, Instagram had 90 million monthly users. At beginning of Q3 2018, the site had 1 billion average monthly users, with forecasts expecting that it will continue to grow throughout the foreseeable future. Although Facebook is still significantly more widely used ( 2 billion average monthly users by some estimations), Instagram is steadily growing, and there are some differences in the average users of the two sites.
The two main areas where Instagram and Facebook differ are average age and household income. The audience on Instagram is generally skewed towards the younger end of users (18-29 years of age). In addition, the highest number of Instagram users are in the top income bracket according to this study.
This is why marketers hold a keen interest in both Instagram and Facebook, despite the fact that the two platforms likely have overlapping audiences. Because of the differences in the average users, Instagram might be a better place for brands that target younger or wealthier audiences to engage their market. For example, while a consumer goods brand might target an audience on Facebook, Instagram may be better for lifestyle brands that appeal to a younger, trendier audience.
How To Use Instagram To Drive Engagement
Many marketers place less importance on social media if posts aren't boosted, making them paid advertising. When posts aren't being monetized, it's called organic social media, and from a marketing standpoint, is intended to fulfill a few key strategic goals:
- Foster brand awareness: Many businesses don't see a need to have social media if they aren't directly advertising something, but even these "look alive" campaigns have benefits. Mainly, if a brand posts meaningful, relevant content on a consistent basis, audience members would be more likely to keep that brand in mind.
- Engage with users: One of the benefits of social media is the ability to respond to users' reviews in real time. Giving your brand an empathetic voice can go a long way toward winning the hearts and minds of new users.
Both of these goals are dependant on your ability to reach as many people as possible when you post on Instagram, which leads us to the burning question: When is the absolute best time to post on Instagram?
To figure out when your posts will have the most impact, you have to fully understand who your audience is. How and when are they most likely to engage with brands like yours? How do they access social media, and when are they most likely to be using it over the course of the day? Here are a few tips to understand your specific target market:
Instagram Is Mostly Used On Mobile Devices
I believe Facebook, due to the age of the average users and the user-friendly interface, is still likely to be used on desktop displays, like home computers and laptops.
Instagram, on the other hand, is somewhat notorious for being nearly unusable on a desktop, leading marketers to believe that the vast majority of Instagram users do so from mobile devices, like cell phones and tablets.
Most People Check Their Phones First Thing In The Morning
According to research, 80% of cell phone users check their mobile phoneswithin the first 15 seconds after they're awake and alert each morning. For most people, this means rolling over in bed and immediately grabbing their phone after their alarm goes off. Despite the notion that the blue light of electronic screens could negatively affect sleep quality, many users look at their phones before going to bed as well.
With these tips in mind, we can make some deductions before we look at the research about posting times. First, we can conclude that if we're posting on Instagram, most of our users are viewing this content on their phones. Second, we could assume that it's likely that viewing social media websites is the first and last things our users do on a given day. By this logic, early in the morning, and late at night should be two of the best times to post.
What The Data Shows
The actual answer to the question of the best time to post on Instagram is not as satisfying as you might think: It depends on your audience. According to HubSpot, it's true that regardless of who your brand is targeting with content, posting earlier in the day is a good strategy. Tuesday through Friday, HubSpot reports that posting at around 5 a.m. in your audience's time zone is great for engagement.
Mondays are generally not good days to post. This could be due to lower usage at the beginning of the week, or the fact that more brands post content on Mondays, leading to more competition for engagement. Overall, the best time to post for maximum engagement is between Tuesday and Friday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. This is because people are likely to check their social media either right before or right after they start work in the morning, and again before or after they finish up.
Of course, this is for a generic audience. HubSpot recommends analyzing your customer base and specific target audience for reasons why there would be certain times that they would be more likely to look at social media. To do this, consider conducting marketing research to better understand your targeted audience. Based on the findings, you may end up optimizing the timing window by one or two hours on both ends, because that specific industry may start and end its business days earlier or later.
Conclusion: Know Your Audience
The best time to post on Instagram may vary for different marketers, and while there is a significant body of research that says to post at certain times, the only way to truly know how to reach the eyes and ears of your audience is to build a firm understanding of who they are and how they consume content like yours.
I originally wrote this post for forbes.com.
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