Ah yes, the most elusive question, “How often should I post on Instagram?“
*cracks knuckles, intravenously sips coffee*
In a time when we’re inundated by near-constant changes to the platform, it can be hard to think clearly on what kind of posting cadence it really takes to grow and engage an audience.
First, let’s agree that we are not going to:
Working with a Ranked Feed
Adam Mosseri, head of Instagram, announced two new feed options– Following and Favorites- which allow users to choose how they want to see content on their feed.
With BOTH of these new feeds showing up in chronological order.
Here’s my (potentially) unpopular opinion:
If you’re in someone’s Favorites + Following feeds your content will be shown to them at the time you post it.
Recently there’s been an outcry of, “At long last!” thundering out of every corner of the entrepreneurial webosphere, but I fear that chronological feeds are going to make posting time turn into a red-string-murder-board of trying to hit “publish” at the most optimal milli-second.
I think chronological feeds LOWER our opportunity to have the people who need to see our content (our warm leads) actually be on the app scrolling at the time we post.
Personally, I’m still interested in continuing to create content that feeds the algorithm. Especially considering that Instagram is going to start serving relevant content to people who don’t currently follow you, but may be interested.
Think about this like your TikTok FYP (For You Page). Somehow that algorithm knows to serve you a dancing baby > a stand up comedian > a delicious recipe > a TedTalk lightbulb moment > a life hack > a relatable millennial video > repeat.
(Or is that just my feed?)
The content is so curated that it keeps users on the app longer (Instagram’s goal), and it keeps your ideal client’s liking + following the content they’re being served (our goal).
Instagram is taking a page out of TikTok’s playbook. Think about the blissful opportunity to land in your ICA’s (Ideal Client Avatar’s) feeds without needing to first seek them out. Hello resurgence of organic growth!
So how do we get our content into our warm followers + qualified non-follower’s feeds at the BEST time for them to consume it?
(Don’t worry we’ll circle back to how often to post on Instagram in 2022 shortly.)
First, what is engagement? It’s likes, comments, saves, shares, etc. on your post.
I like to call these “social signals” that alert Instagram if a piece of content is…
Think about Instagram like it’s a consignment store.
Instagram provides the physical shop – they pay the building rent, they keep the lights on – AKA the app.
You provide the product – AKA your content.
In turn, Instagram provides the customers – AKA the people on the app.
The better the product, the more people who frequent that store.
Imagine you’re one of Instagram’s favorite “vendors”, all of your products are well taken care of and fit within a similar theme, they know how to promote you, and the customers regularly buy!
Let’s pretend it’s a Saturday, the store’s packed, your pieces are getting a lot of attention from a specific demographic of shoppers. Instagram sees how well received you are & is motivated to sell your product so it shifts your piece(s) to the front of the store.
People walking past the shop see it in the window and come in. They purchase your piece!
The customer has such a great experience with your piece that they keep coming back to the shop – A win for Instagram (the shop) and a win for you (your content getting continually consumed by this new shopper).
You + Instagram are in a partnership.
They need your quality content to keep the store (app) thriving, just as you need their algorithm to find customers.
In summary: The engagement your posts get is directly correlated to the amount of reach it gets + how your audience responds to it. With content that plays into your audience’s current interests and utilizes industry trends, you’ll see your engagement spike. This tells Instagram that your content is hot, which means it’s more likely to rank and be placed at the top of someone’s Main Feed.
As online entrepreneurs, we often tow the line between selling and nurturing, so it’s important that you know who you are and what your post’s purpose is during both periods.
Want more on how to sell your value AND be confident that you’re still moving the needle when in nurture-mode? We’ve got that, and more, waiting for you inside Five Figure Instagram where I reveal the “3 R Approach” – Reach, Relationship, Revenue. Each post, and each point in your strategy, should focus within one of the Rs.
Understanding Your ICA’s App Usage
Here’s how the algorithm works – Every time you open Instagram it shows you the most interesting pieces, since your last app usage, in your Main Feed.
Again, Instagram’s goal is to keep you in the shop (app) and coming back regularly.
Given the opportunity to entertain you, it’s going to put its best product forward – The pieces of content that you’ll find the most interesting. The piece that will keep you locked on the app.
How often does your ICA open Instagram? Three times a week? 17 times a day? Knowing this will help influence how often you should post on Instagram.
Put It Together: Your Content’s Engagement + ICA’s App Usage
Step 1: Produce content that’s interesting + relevant to your ideal clients and generates a lot of engagement, signaling to Instagram that its hot & should be pushed to similar people.
Step 2: Understand the habits your ideal clients have with Instagram and assess how many opportunities you have per day to be at the top of their feed, thus creating a top-of-mind effect.
Okay got it, Shannon… But my ideal clients open Instagram around 20 times a day. Are you saying I should post 20 times a day?
We want to find a sweet spot of how many pieces of QUALITY content you can create within your content system – that serves your ICA’s habits – and keeps you sane.
For me, I post once a day M-F and have an average of 5 Instagram story slides posted throughout the day. Ideally I’d like to post twice a day because my ICAs are always on Instagram. But I can’t keep my quality level up if I do that. So for now, it’s 5 a week.
I want you to think through the same.
Now what’s going to happen if you start posting multiple times a day? Reach is going down. But not in a bad way…
Multiple Posts: Good or Bad?
A recent study by Dash Hudson Marketing Software studied 1,400 brands that posted between one and five times a day over the course of six months. They then analyzed the brands’ account reach to see if output frequency was correlated. Their findings should calm your fears:
“If you post on Instagram once a day, that asset is likely to have a +3.39% individual improvement over your average reach, but it decreases from there. If you post twice a day, both assets risk having -3.12% of the reach that an average post would have gotten. If you post three times a day, it goes down to -6.17% of the average reach, and so on.”
Broken down, this tells us that the more you publish, the less reach your individual post receives. However, the overall reach you’ll see combined across all of the posts within the day will be higher due to the frequency…
If your brand is in a position to post multiple times per day (think creatives, trend reporting accounts, and anyone who’s really overflowing with content to share), consider whether you’d want to have one post a day that receives the most reach, or 2-3 posts a day that receive less individual reach but higher overall reach.
However, many entrepreneurs find that a single post per day is all their audience needs to be satiated. Consider how much they’ll be able to consume in one go, how often they’ll be online to consume it, and what would actually serve them by being posted. One post in a day is certainly enough when there is quality within it.
The Weekly Schedule
Now that you’ve covered how many posts should go live in one day, how many days should you post within a week?
Consider the online weekly cycle of your audience on Instagram, they’re inundated with new content to consume and can easily fall down rabbit holes that do not lead to your business. So how do we combat this?
It’s recommended that you post at least 2-3 times per week, with a focus on high-engagement content whether or not you’re in sales mode. While this is the minimum recommended cadence by industry leaders, I also encourage you to experiment with 4 or 5 posts per week if they meet your quality standards.
An amped up posting schedule each week does not leave any room for your audience to forget about you, or potentially land in a competitor’s ozone as they scroll. The key is staying top of mind by both being top of feed, and delivering the relevant content for your community to engage with.
Take It and Run – But Consider Everything a Test
Before you jump back over to Instagram, I recommend making a plan to experiment with multiple cadences. Play with lighter fare, 2 or 3 posts, kind of weeks, then bump up to a 5 posts per week to test how your audience responds to more of you on their feed. What works for you will not work for the next business owner, so keep in mind what your content output and quality standards must be as you settle into a new post schedule
It’s time to get even more out of your businesse’s Instagram…
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