When Is the Best Time to Post on Instagram in 2021? [Cheat Sheet]

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.

If you lack the resources or time to conduct your own tests, Sprout Social, a social media management platform with over 20,000 customers, has you covered. In 2020, their team analyzed customer data to see what time and day their social media posts generated the most engagement. Here’s what they found.

Global Instagram Engagement

If 2020 taught us anything, it’s that our worlds are more interconnected than ever before on a global scale. Our social media strategies have to reflect this new way of life in order for our businesses to meet their goals.

The chart below shows the global engagement on Instagram by the time of day and day of the week. Note: The time is in CDT. That means you wouldn’t post at 11 AM for every timezone individually — 11 AM CDT works just fine across posts published for a global audience.

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

Image Source

Sprout Social went into even more detail about the best times to post on Instagram, including the best times for post engagement. We’ve summarized the key findings from their report into a quick cheatsheet that you can reference later.

Best Time to Post to Instagram Cheatsheet

The day of the week on which you post can change how much engagement you get during that same time.

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.

As much as we don’t like to admit it, many of us check our social media first thing in the morning to catch up on the night before. Then, it’s time for a lunch break scroll. Finally, we take one last look at what our friends and favorite brands are up to before bed. It makes sense that the heaviest engagement hours align with the way our audiences live their lives.

Here’s another look at the best times to post on Instagram each day as well as some additional insights from Sprout Social:

Best Time to Post on Instagram Each Day

Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, 11 AM – 12 PM CDT – Consider that most of your followers are taking a lunch break around this time and will be more likely to scroll through Instagram to catch up on the latest from their friends, favorite brands, and influencers. During these time periods, share content that is easy to engage with and share.
Tuesday, 11 AM – 2 PM CDT – Similar to the above, lunch breaks are common around these hours. However, the longer timeframe can be a fitting opportunity to share long-form content like IG TV videos or even go live on Instagram.
Thursday, 11 AM CDT – For these shorter lunch breaks on Thursdays, try posting Instagram stories with engagement boosters like polls, questions, and quizzes to get quick responses that users will come back to read later on.

When scheduling posts for Instagram, the same hours may not work for each day. Consider both the day of the week and the industry you’re in (we’ll talk about the latter in just a minute).

Pro Tip: Post to Instagram between 7 AM and 10:30 AM CDT from Monday to Friday. You’ll get the most consistent engagement that way because your content will have time to pick up views and shares leading into the peak engagement hours around 11 AM CDT.

Best Time to Post on Instagram by Industry

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, restaurant, education, healthcare, and non-profit industries, according to Sprout Social’s research.

Best Times to Post on Instagram for Technology Companies

Best Time: Monday 10:00 AM – 10:00 PM CDT
Most Consistent Engagement: Monday – Friday, 8:00 AM – 6:00 PM CDT
Best Day: Monday
Worst Day: Sunday

Best Times to Post on Instagram for Restaurants

Best Time: Monday 9 AM – 1 PM
Most Consistent Engagement: Monday 9 AM – 1 PM
Best Day: Monday
Worst Day: Saturday

Best Times to Post on Instagram for Educational Organizations

Best Times: Friday 4:00 AM – 5:00 AM, Thursday 2:00 PM CDT
Most Consistent Engagement: Friday 4:00 AM – 1:00 PM CDT
Best Day: Friday
Worst Day: Sunday

Best Times to Post on Instagram for Healthcare Companies

Best Times: Tuesday 8 AM – 12 PM, 5 PM – 8 PM
Most Consistent Engagement: Sunday, 8:00 AM – 9:00 AM CDT
Best Day: Monday, Tuesday
Worst Day: Saturday

Best Times to Post on Instagram for Nonprofit Organizations

Best Time: Wednesday 10 AM – 6 PM CDT
Most Consistent Engagement: Monday to Friday from 11:00 AM to 8:00 PM CDT
Best Day: Wednesday
Worst Day: Sunday

Boost Instagram Engagement on Your Schedule

Organic Instagram engagement and a scheduled posting schedule go hand in hand. Each industry has natural peaks and valleys of engagement throughout the day which means your Instagram strategy should flow with them. Use this helpful cheat sheet to plan your social media calendar for next quarter and watch your engagement rate soar.

Editor’s note: This post was originally published in February 2021 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.