What, when, and how to post on Instagram

A recent report looked at the practices of Fortune 500 companies and distilled the results. The best time to post on the image-sharing platform is among the more surprising findings.


Sharing images with your community is fun, which is why Instagram is such a popular app. It makes all photos look good, skilled photographer or not.

I’m not the only one who enjoys the photo sharing site. Brands have been hopping on board and trying to master the network, which has more than 150 million active users.

So, along comes TrackMaven, a competitive analysis firm, which recently released a report on Instagram based on how Fortune 500 companies are using the network.

The process: They took the 2013 Fortune 500 list and loaded all the Instagram handles for every brand (123) into their platform. They collected and analyzed the number of interactions and meta information (such as which filter was used) through their history until mid-September.

The study had some interesting findings:

  • Best days to post: There isn’t one, but companies post the most on Thursdays.
  • Best time to post: Between 3 and 4 p.m. ET.
  • Best time to post Instagram videos: Off-hours, from 9 p.m. until 8 a.m. ET.

Sabel Harris, lead marketing maven at TrackMaven, shared three tips for brands that want to jump on the Instagram bandwagon, based on this report to Mashable.

Instagram videos are effective

We know videos are effective because they enable us to consume content quickly. Most users prefer watching video to reading plain text. Harris says:

On average, a video on Instagram can get up to 24 interactions (sum of comments and “likes”).

This is slightly less than pictures, in terms of interaction, according to the report, however Instagram videos were introduced just this summer so that number will almost certainly increase.

The bottom line: Take your marketing a step further by adding videos to your account as it can give you an advantage with your followers.

Use multiple hashtags

Hashtag etiquette doesn’t apply on Instagram. Though it’s frowned upon on Twitter and Facebook to use more than two hashtags, on Instagram this isn’t the case.

The data prove otherwise for bigger brands, showing that four to 11 hashtags can increase up to an average 77 interactions per Instagram post.

However, you should integrate them into your post naturally and be specific. Don’t just add a bunch at the end. #itsannoying #toomanytagslooksliketagspam

HubSpot shares a great example from CBREGroup. They posted an image of the Chase Tower with the comment “#ChaseTower #Chicago #Downtown tallest building inside the #el loop tracks.” Instead of “Tallest building inside the el loop tracks #ChaseTower #Chicago #downtown #el.”

Also of note, Instagram search works only with hashtags, so if you don’t tag your content, there’s virtually no chance someone who isn’t following you will find it.

Your posting schedule

Typically we can find the optimal time to post on social networks through a bit of trial and error, but with Instagram, people interact. All. The. Time.

People are rarely away from their phones, so posting at different times of the day ensures advantageous mobile strategies for different audience segments.

Harris suggests using this to your advantage and finding what’s right with your audience.

Whether you’re a B2B or B2C company, you can use Instagram successfully. Beyond pictures of puppies, lattes, and greasy, yet delicious, foods, the photo sharing network is also a great place to show off not only your brand and products, but also your company culture.

With all those active users, it’s worth considering adding this network to your marketing mix.

A version of this article first appeared on Spin Sucks.

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