When is the best time to post an Instagram pic? An experimental answer…

I’m really new to the social media side of things when it comes to sharing my photography. I only started this blog and started a Facebook and Instagram account probably a year ago. Well, I created the accounts a while ago but had no idea what to do with them!

So I found out that social media, like everything else, is getting days driven and so I thought I’d check out iconosquare to see what it said of my account.

The one thing that really caught my eye were these graphs. Essentially it shows that most engagement drops off after 6 hours. The other one shows that people generally see my images more on Sunday lunch times than any other time.

Now, I wondered when people would best see the images on a weekday? So the Instagram experiment was born…

The aim

To assess the time that generates the most engagement with images on Instagram.

The protocol

Take a single image, use the same blurb and hashtags but change the time to see when the most engagement happens. Given the insights from iconosquare, I divided the posts roughly every six hours.
I posted the image at
  • 0700 Aus EST/ 2100 GMT/ 1700US US EST
  • 1230 Aus EST / 0230 GMT / 2230 US EST
  • 1730 Aus EST / 0730 GMT / 0330 US EST
  • 0000 Aus EST / 1400GMT / 1000 US EST
At each subsequent posting, I noted the number of likes & followers generated. I should’ve made a note of comments but totally didn’t think about it until later. Neither did I track unfollows.
Oh, and this is the image from Antarctica I posted, as taken from my mobile phone:
icebergs
The results
 
Time posted:0700 Aus EST/ 2100 GMT/ 1700US US EST
Like on post before deletion: 68
Follows after posting: 4
Time posted: 1230 Aus EST / 0230 GMT / 2230 US EST
Like on post before deletion: 101
Follows after posting: 6
Time posted: 1730 Aus EST / 0730 GMT / 0330 US EST
Like on post before deletion: 51
Follows after posting: 4
Time posted: 0000 Aus EST / 1400GMT / 1000 US EST
Like on post before recording: 50
Follows after posting: 5
Interpretation
Before I attempt to explain anything, I’d like to say a few caveats – firstly, this is one image on a given day and n=1 if you will. This does not make for robust statistics, but in a land where data is scarce, it’s better than nothing. Ok, now on with the show…
If you graphed the results, you would get this:
pXRexperiment
Now given that all we had changed was the timing, keeping everything else essentially the same, 1230 Aus EST / 0230 GMT / 2230 US EST seems to be a much better range to submit images (especially travel images) to maximize exposure to a social network.
This can be explained by a couple of things. I’m posting from Australia and this is during the time where majority of the population have their lunch breaks here. Now given that the crowd on instagram is heavily weighted to the US, this time is also just on the cusp of when I’d assume the majority of US citizens would be at home or about to head to bed. Given the proclivity to work longer/harder, I wouldn’t be surprised if 10:30pm US time is zoned as ‘chill out and vegetate by going through Instagram’ time.
I was surprised that both post 3 and 4 had roughly the same amount of engagement. Both would end up being at relatively unsociable hours: evening trip home in Aus/middle of night US and midnight Aus and mid morning on a workday in US. I wouldn’t have thought that would line up very well with engagement, especially considering it’s not that dissimilar from the amount generated by the first time I posted the image. Maybe it’s balanced out by Europe? I’d be open to explanations.
So in summary, it seems that to maximise engagement, it’s best to post around lunch time of the target audience you have on a given weekday. This may be different on the weekends and I’ll do a subsequent study at a later date.
Also, if you found this informative, I’d suggest trying your own experiment. If you tag your posts with #PxRexperiment I’ll look in a months time and collate as much of the results that I can!

Please leave a comment if you have any suggestions on how to improve the experiment or if you want to suggest something different!

PS – you can follow me on instagram here

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