You might be using Instagram to entertain your friends and family – or you could be using the platform to promote your brand or business. Either way, if you’re regularly posting on Instagram, you should ask yourself a few questions. What is the best time to post on Instagram? Are your posts on the right day and at the right time? Are your videos and imagery up to scratch? And are you fully engaging with your audience? Read on to discover best practices you can use to ensure your Instagram posts stand out from the crowd and really capture your audience’s attention, whether you’re a personal or business user.
What is Instagram?
Instagram is a visual platform that’s used to share moments and to communicate a point of view to the world via photos and videos. It's owned by Facebook and it integrates very effectively with the Facebook advertising platform. Marketers can advertise on Instagram through Facebook to reach a young, mobile audience.
What’s the best time and day to post on Instagram?
You may be wondering what the best days and times are to post on Instagram, particularly if you are an advertiser.
Various studies have tried to find a ‘best’ time on a ‘best’ day. Wednesday at 11am is generally suggested as the best day and time to post. However, you’ll most likely be posting more often than once a week, so it’s a good idea to look at a wider selection of ‘good’ times to post.
We recommend that you look at your account analytics and timezone. A sound approach is to use Instagram’s Insights tool. If you have a business account, you’ll automatically have access to this free analytics tool. You can use it to see on which days of the week – and which times – your followers are most active onInstagram. This data can give you a good understanding of the best times topost, based on your instagram users and followers.
You should be familiar with these key terms to use Instagram effectively:
Activity: Activity is a newsfeed-style feature, divided into ‘Following’ and ‘You’ sections, that keeps users up-to-date on recent activity from people they are following.
SearchandExplore: With Search and Explore, content of interest can be discovered from accounts you don't yet follow.
Filter: Filters are photographic enhancements that can be applied to content before publishing.
Regram: Regramming is the act of sharing another's user-generated content, also known as ‘UGC’, on your own Instagram page.
Live: Live is a feature that allows users to share live video with their followers and friends on Instagram.
What are best practices for posting on Instagram?
Let's talk through some of the best practices for posting on Instagram:
Keep your captions short. You’ll want to make sure that you're using them in a very concise manner to deliver your message.
Don't use more than three hashtags in your captions. Using more than that will detract from your brand message and come across as inauthentic and spammy.
The images you post should all have a strong focal point.
Use filters to change the mood of an image, which can potentially lead to more likes and comments.
Use photography that showcases your brand logo clearly in product imagery.
Post photos and videos that are visually appealing and beautiful, and tell a story in an unexpected way.
Use Instagram's sister apps, such as Layout and Boomerang, to create visual interest and show knowledge of the platform.
Use social influencers to promote your content and expand your reach.
Add emojis to your captions to demonstrate authenticity, as Instagram is a mobile-based platform and emojis are widely used.
Always include a call-to-action in your post, so that users know what to do with the information you're providing.
Keep your content and posting schedule consistent, as it gives your followers something to look forward to.
Using social influencers
You can use social media influencers to expand your Instagram audience, and to increase awareness of your account or brand. Indeed, Instagram is one of the most important channels for influencer marketing. Influencers are – as the name suggests – influential. Some have millions of followers. By collaborating with the right influencer, you can really expand your reach.
It’s important to choose the influencers you work with carefully. They need to be credible, trustworthy, relevant, and authentic, and to have a vision and target audience that align with your own.
So reach out to any influencers you are interested in working with. You could ask them to take over your page for a set period of time, or to create content with a CTA to follow your own brand's account. These partnerships can be paid or free, depending on the type of relationship you have with them.
Tips for posting photos on Instagram
As Instagram is a visual platform, it means that your photos must be of a high standard that presents your product or concept in a way that speaks to people. Here are some of our top tips for posting photos:
Using predefined filters to make your images look better is essential to engaging the audience. You can apply filters at varying strengths to your images using sliders. Popular filters include Clarendon, Gingham, Juno, Lark, Mayfair, Sierra, Valencia, and Walden. When modifying your images (or series of images) with filters, be consistent and take overall color themes and tones into consideration.
Apply no filters
Posting photos as having #nofilter can be a nice way to show your followers how well your images (or products) can look without post-production enhancements. Just make sure to call them out as such.
Modify the ambience
It's possible to simply modify the ambience of your photos by adjusting the light and contrast sliders, to see how high-contrast or low-lit photos might look. You can add filters on top of your ambience-modified photos to produce different photo combinations to share with your audience.
Add the grid function
Adding the grid function when taking a photo allows photo-content producers to shoot their pictures in a standardized manner that takes into account image cropping, and where subjects and people fit into the photo frame.
Cross-pollinate between platforms
You can save and import your Instagram photos into Snapchat, add Snapchat filters, and then reimport back into Instagram for posting. This is a good way to cross-pollinate the filter functionality of the two platforms and create engaging content.
Tips for posting videos on Instagram
When posting video content on Instagram and other social platforms, here are some useful steps you can take to really enhance the video experience for your audience:
Aim to capture attention in the first three seconds. User attention is limited, so it's important to insert your key message in the first few seconds to drive recall and impact.
On mobile devices, the majority of users have their sound off. So it's important to create a video experience that works well with sound off as well as on. You can do this by using closed caption subtitles and onscreen text.
A large number of users view social content on mobile devices and scroll vertically on their mobiles. Therefore, it’s essential that video content is optimized for vertical as well as landscape viewing to cater for all viewers.
It’s worth investing in and creating evergreen, timeless content, as it can have a significant impact on consumer engagement.
To encourage continued engagement after the video has ended, you can build in a ‘Play More’ function, so users can view other related content after they’ve finished watching your video.
Take advantage of ‘Live’ video options to capture live events and add a greater degree of urgency for followers to engage with your content.
Posts vs Stories: Tips for creating Instagram Stories
With Instagram Stories, you can share multiple photos and videos with your audience. Stories are temporary content in your overall social experience, so it's important to understand their ephemeral nature.
Let's look at some best practices for creating Stories:
Stories are a great way of showing a raw, authentic side to your brand. You can do this by sharing photos, interviews, and exclusive behind-the-scenes content.
You can also use social influencers in your stories to assist with reach and credibility. Invite them to do a story takeover and take over your story feed for a whole day.
Be sure to fully leverage any native platform tools that are available. For example, make use of all the editing features and customization tools native to stories such as filters, stickers, text, and paintbrush tools.
You can diversify your story's content by adding videos, photos, and Boomerangs to keep it interesting. You can also mention other users within your story or tag a location.
Consider including a ‘See More’ link to drive traffic from your story to an alternate location. It could be your business's website, somewhere that generates leads, or a promotion.
Be sure to include a clear CTA, like a promo code or a link to your website, to drive a trackable action from your consumers.
To find the best time to post on Instagram, use your analytics to help inform you. Use the Insights tool - free with any Instagram business account.
Keep your posts concise and visually appealing. The Instagram algorithm works by monitoring the engagement of your account and posts.
Test your photography. Compared to other platforms, Instagram is immensely visual. Make full use of the image filters and editing tools which come with your account.
Keep doing what’s working. As your story and posting schedule becomes more regular, you’ll be able to see what’s working. Keep refining and testing.
Use stories to diversify your Instagram content - they provide an authentic side to your brand.
Bear in mind, many users use Instagram with the sound off. Consider adding captions or subtitles to your video posts