The Instagram Post-Time Debate

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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