Navigating Instagram can be tricky. Lately there has been a lot of chatter about traffic being down because of the algorithm change.
Here’s the thing to know about social media – algorithms are constantly going to be changing. The one constant is there is no constant, no normal. Social media has stayed relevant, and grown, by adapting and setting trends, not just keeping up with them. Remember when Vine was cool?
The most important thing about Instagram is your picture. Instagram was the first social platform designed around your picture, and it is everything. I will be discussing how to get the best possible pictures next, and hint, it’s ALL about the picture edit.
After the quality of your photo, the second most important thing is the TIMING of your post. Timing is everything on Instagram, the success of your post is directly related to when you post.
Let’s examine timing for a moment
My audience is 85% women, overwhelmingly married between 25 and 45 years old. They tend to be 19x more interested in fashion, love the tag #momlife and are 20x the average income.
So what does this tell you about when I should be posting?
At night! Why? Well my audience is either working or busy being a mom. While they may be on their phones off and on during the day, there is not a consistent time they are on their phones. Not everyone says, hey it’s noon, lets take an Instagram break. (But maybe we should? Sorry love, mommy needs 10 minutes to play on IG, can you go entertain yourself?). That will go over well (okay I do that at night, another time and place for that story!).
My audience is engaged in the evenings. Kids are fed, baths are done, kids are in bed or on ipads or reading. Then my audience comes alive.
So when do I post? Generally between 8:30 and 10 pm most nights. I am on PST, so I may miss the East Coaster’s, but not the mamas who are up with sick kids, up nursing, or just up working late / can’t sleep.
My largest audience is West Coast – in Los Angeles, and heavily concentrated in Santa Monica and Playa Vista (wonder why? 🙂 Okay that’s where I live!
BUT I also have a large following in Australia and New Zealand. Guess what time they are waking up? Between 8:30 pm and 10 pm PST. And many women wake up and spend time on IG.
Also, my posts continue to gain traction over the course of the night, picking up a lot of speed between 6 am and 11 am. By 24 hours, I should be in the 700-800 range. A post that does better is FAB, a post that does worse has an issue – namely, I didn’t post during that time or maybe, there’s a huge election going on (I didn’t post on election night, but just saying).
My time varies based on the night. Fridays and interestingly, Sundays, I can post LATER. Friday makes sense, not sure why on Sunday. Maybe mamas didn’t get any alone time over the weekend and are taking it then. But that’s what my experience and data has shown me.
Do I ever post during the daytime?
Yes, occasionally. For one of three reasons: 1) I am traveling 2) I am at Disneyland 3) something is very topical.
Will it do as well? NO. Unless it’s a viral kind of post, I KNOW my engagement will be lower than if I posted the EXACT same post at night.
This family post of me in the pink lace dress was made the morning after the election. It was incredibly deep, personal and heartfelt. I got over 200 comments, and although I got 900 likes, I would have had a lot more had this been posted in the evening and not at 10 am PST.
Why does this matter?
A post that doesn’t perform as well hurts your stats. Instagram uses this information to decide when to show another image to someone. They want people to stay engaged for as long as possible on the site.
Quick question: which site has the longest engaged users? Pinterest and then Instagram. That is key for the sites as they make MONEY by showing you ads. The more ads shown, the more money they make. The longer you are on the site, the more they can sell your usage to brands and their investors.
When you post matters
Start looking through your feed and you will start to see patterns emerging. I study patterns. That’s just how my brain works, and why I have done well over the years on social media (starting in 2011 when I started Club Momme). Now I am by no means the absolute expert, just sharing what has worked well for me, and what should work well for you.
Pay attention to the pictures that do well, the times that do well, the captions that get people to click like and even better, leave a comment (over two words!).
And when in doubt, download the app called When to Post. But first study your pictures and see what YOU find first. Apps are fine and all, but they are just finding what was coded to find, and they don’t always let YOU discover secrets that you can use to grow your audience and build engagement.
Now for a study on what worked and what didn’t:
This post was made in the morning and the photo is almost identical to the one posted a month earlier. Now the first one was taken around Halloween, so it was arguably more popular then, but the second one was posted in the evening. This one was posted around 8:30 am PST two days ago and should top out just over 800.
Finally, how can you tell when someone is BUYING engagement? What you say? Yes it is happening! I just sat with an influencer agency who could easily weed out “ghost” likes, but for the average person, how do you know when likes are fake?
Please do not let people doing shady things make YOU feel bad! They are basically lying to advertisers (if they have any) and HURTING the brands! That would be like taking a commercial and only airing it at 4 am instead of 4 pm. Not cool…!
Share with me what you want me to explore next!