The Instagram Post-Time Debate

Amelia Diamond | November 9, 2015

For some, Instagram is not just a procrastination tool or a place to stalk your ex. And it’s more than a game: it’s a strategy.


I’ve never seen a room light up in flames faster than the one wherein an entire dinner table found itself divided over the best time to post on Instagram.

Picture a political debate between family members at Thanksgiving. Then amplify it, grab a helmet and take cover. Remind yourself that there are only so many sides to align with in politics (versus the Insta time-post debate, where there are hundreds). Factor in an endless supply of facts, propaganda and statistics, plus the entire history of America as a reference for argument-backing precedence, whatever the topic at hand. Let us not forget there is also Anderson Cooper.

Instagram timing is a bit more complicated. The numbers are there if you search for them: companies analyze this data to determine best practices whether they’re the advertiser, the publisher or the personality. But we the average Insta-using civilians? With our dog pics and skinny arms and group shots? We’re going on a feeling.

And it’s not only hard — it’s extremely loud — to argue against opinions backed by heart.

I learned the hard way. It was 12:00 am on a Saturday and my friends and I had finally gotten a non-blurry photo of our outfits. “Should I post this now or wait until the morning,” I asked. Their various POVs (unfounded in fact, disregarding that fact, basing their declarations on nothing other than a outliers of success) were as follows:

Post it now (Saturday night, but technically Sunday, 12 – 3 am)

“People are drunk and giving out free likes — especially people who would normally not.”

“This is a good time for exes to remember that you look great while they’re in a cab going home.”

“You don’t stress over captions and filters.”

Absolutely not (Same time, Saturday but actually Sunday, 12 – 3 am)

“You will look fucking weird. Why would you be looking at your phone at this time? Who is looking at their phone at this time??”

Dead zone (Sunday, 3 – 6 am) 

Universally agreed upon. “Sketchy.”

Pics out for the farmers (Sunday, 6 – 8 am)

“You catch those ‘I can’t sleep in when I drink people’ (and the sketchy west coast crowd). People are more giving with comments at this time because they’re bored.”

Dead zone (Same time, Sunday, 6 – 8 am)

“No way. People are sleeping. Wait an hour or it’s a missed opp.”

Sneaker committee (Sunday, 9 am – 12 pm )

“You catch everyone running errands or working out before brunch.”

Peanut allergy gallery  (Same time, Sunday 9 am – 12 pm)

“No way. People up at this time are running errands, they’re distracted and busy, so they scroll but don’t like. They definitely don’t comment.”

Zombie status, Sunday afternoon, 12 – 2 pm

“Everyone’s at peak hangover exhaustion, still too dead to watch TV but too bored to sleep. Anything before this and people are still knocked out.”

Don’t bother, Sunday afternoon, 3 – 6 pm

“People are day drinking and not looking at their phones.”

In between commercials, Sunday night, 6 – 11 pm

“Great for alleviating Sunday Scaries.”

“Everyone is scrolling on Insta to cope with the Terrors.”

“For anyone with Sunday Blues.”

“That end-of-weekend denial.”

Monday morning, 8:30 – 10 am, “def not 7.”

“The weekend’s officially over so everyone’s depressed. It’s when everyone checks. Gotta be at the top of their feed.”

Then a whole work week time table begins…

So, pyros, the next time conversation between friends feels a little too amicable, pose the question, “When’s the best time to post an Instagram?” and watch the fire start.

Consider this the spark: Which side of the table are you on?

Illustration by Joseph Amar; collage by Krista Anna Lewis.  Another important, less technical, debate = street style.

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  • http://journal.joanaggomes.com Joana

    Never before 8am, definitely.
    Although I never gave this much thought to instagram strategy :p

    Joana x
    http://www.joanainthecity.com

  • Alarive

    Today I posted a quizzically-timed 10am Monday morning photo. I took a personal day from work and was sitting in a cafe’ with a huge poster of Sophia Loren giving a side-eye right in front of me.

    Two things: the first was how strangely guilty I felt posting that, even though I was taking a day off, knowing that my colleagues were at work. The second is that it got 20 likes, as opposed to my usual 60-80. Experiment, fail.

  • Patrizia Chiarenza

    I find that during the week, the best time is either between 8am-9am or any time between 7pm -10pm. During the weekend is tough, I still havent figured it out 🙂 It’s sad that I notice these patterns, but after posting over 1,500 photos, you sort of start making sense of things…

    • http://www.fashionandfrappes.com/ Fashion and Frappes

      Agreed. My theory is that people are on Instagram during their commute.

      • Anna B.

        I literally just came out of a social media training session which verified this. Commutes to and from work and lunchtime were pretty much the only times we were encouraged to post.

        • http://www.fashionandfrappes.com/ Fashion and Frappes

          Yay!

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  • http://www.dominiquecandido.com Dominique

    great post! I never post before 8am or after 6pm

  • Natty

    whatever happened to the “insta” in Instagram?

    • Amelia Diamond

      Snapchat! (but whoa man what a trippy q)

  • http://www.nouvellegamine.com/ Jordan Wester

    I clearly need to give this more thought. I had NO idea.

  • http://www.fashionandfrappes.com/ Fashion and Frappes

    I usually go with the strategy that someone somewhere is on Instagram now…(well, I didn’t say it was good strategy…)

    http://www.fashionandfrappes.com

  • http://www.karateandcaviar.com Karate and Caviar

    Yes, that’s always a tricky thing. Having followers from countries with different time zones adds another complication to it!

    XX
    Nadine | Karate and Caviar

  • http://insertwth.com/ Denisse

    I don’t have a strategy, but I guess I generally avoid super early and super late posts. Sometimes if the caption is witty enough, the post will get more likes regardless of timing. But generally I just chuck things in, put a filter, and forget about it.

  • Greer Clarke

    the degree to which this hits home is super frightening

  • Rose

    I’ve actually posted around 7a before and gotten more engagement then than nearly any other hour. I think most people are awake but don’t want to get up so they’re scrolling through their phones in bed.

  • 1stflick

    Good read

  • Bella Charlwood

    Everyone knows sunday night 6-10 is peak time. Everyone is home, everyone is bored and everyone is missing the weekend

  • SA

    Also consider those that are trying to cover many different “peak” timezones at once . So that’s another layer! By the way, we Iranians love you so so much Leandra, you have no idea! It’s fact that all other fashion bloggers copy you xx oh and girl, cheers to your writing, it’s impeccable!

    SA

  • Lua Jane

    Middle of the workday, potentially lunchbreak time. All check their phones if for no other reason then to insta their own beautifully crafted by a local restaurant or deli, lunch. On weekend nights I don’t instagram much. Brunch or a sunday walk are a safe bet, because people are again, probably bored. But on drunken or tipsy night, chances are, less than flattering photo uploading might seem like a good idea, just as liking your crushes photos you normally wouldn’t may be.

  • http://SocialCull.com/ SocialCull

    Even more importantly, make sure you are targeting the RIGHT people.

    Imagine being able to auto-follow and comment to Fashionista Influencers who only live in LA/NYC/PARIS and who have posted a #specific tag or follow X brand. We got that covered. http://SocialCull.com

    • http://www.thestylopedia.com LondonGlitter

      LA/NYC/PARIS but no London??

  • http://www.looking-glass.ca/ Maria

    I’m sure there’s research and what not that’s gone into this but I post whenever I want. The thing about instagram is that it’s used by people all over the world. It might be late at night where I am but it will be daytime in Europe. Basically the way I see it is that at any given time there will be someone somewhere browsing instagram, because all over the world we’re addicted to our phones.

  • l:ly

    1 pm, 3pm, 6pm 10pm…..duh

  • http://midlifecrisisnut.com Abby @ midlifecrisisnut.com

    They actually did a few studies on this. Apparently the best time to post on Instagram is at 5pm EST on Wednesdays. The worst times are between 9am and 6pm. Sweet spots are apparently on Friday at 1am and 8pm.

    I don’t know what happened when I posted mine, but somehow horses were way more popular than me at any given time. Read here:

    http://midlifecrisisnut.com/2015/10/the-magic-of-instagram-when-horses-are-more-popular-than-you.html/

  • Jen

    I use ig for my business (and I’m a complete psycho) so I check my optimization times on iconosquare. They tell you when you tend to post the most and when you should post based on how much people interact with you rcontent. Also I agree that from 6-10pm is generally a good time.

  • http://instagram.com/xxpash Kristen

    12:45pm EST: New York friends just finished their first real meal of the day. Los Angeles friends just finished their morning hike and green juice. Endorphins are running wild so everyone is like/comment happy.

  • http://www.smuug.com/blog/ Noor

    I just post anytime I’m in the mood. I want to be natural about it and have never thought of it more than that.

  • http://belen.androbel.com/ A Hint of Life Blog

    I have no idea! I will look at my posts haha

    – Belen

    Visit my Work/Life Balance inspired Blog! A Hint of Life

  • http://www.addictedtolace.com Roshni C

    Haha, this is hilarious. I think I’ve had this argument with myself more than with friends. (Oops, I’m weird)

    addictedtolace.com

  • http://www.lovehappinessyoga.com Lou

    I love this break down, I will keep this in mind. One question – what about time zones? It could be a perfectly normal time for me, but not for others.

    Lou

    http://www.LoveHappinessYoga.com

  • Sarah

    I personally think WHAT you post rather than WHEN you post will determine its likes. I now someone who posts images of her and her child so frequently that they are now seen as so indulgent rather than interesting or cute, but when she posts something that has actually happened, and event (like when Johnny Depp signed her hand on a beach in Australia) – she obviously gets a gazillion more likes. I vote with likes, i don’t just like everything – right? And I will go hunt out their posts rather than wait for them to pop up on my feed, if I’m interested.

  • Katie

    don’t people usually scroll down their feed until they get to the stuff they’ve already seen? liiiike who follows more than a couple hundred anyway? shouldn’t be that hard

  • Kris Jackson

    Hi, I am in Spain so am really curious about when the best time to be on Instagram /www.instagram.com/wineanddine2find_4restaurants/ . I am after food bloggers also restaurants and wineries worldwide.Code KJFUEN
    Kris