How often should I post to Instagram? This study says every single day (and they're right)
There's a 95% chance you're not posting to Instagram often enough. An original study by Tailwind took over 100,000 Instagram posts from a three month period and analyzed them to uncover how successful different accounts were when they changed the number of times they post to Instagram each day. I wanted to know how likes growth, follower growth, and engagement rate all change with different posting frequencies - and this study answered all my questions. So keep reading! In this post you’ll learn: how often you should post to Instagram, the effect post frequency has on total likes, the effect post frequency has on follower growth, and the effect post frequency has on the engagement rate of your posts.
The researchers thought they’d see higher engagement rates (Likes + Comments ÷ Followers) among accounts that post less often, but what they found surprised them (and a lot of people, I think). There was a significant difference in engagement rates between those who post once per week and those who post seven times per week or more. In fact, they found that accounts that increased their rate of posting over the three month study saw a significant increase in their engagement rate, and higher follower growth rates too!
If we stop to think about it, it makes sense that Instagram would want to reward people for using their platform more - or at least not incentivize using it less. Let’s say you get 1,000 likes per month with your current posting schedule of every other day. It stands to reason that you should get around 2,000 likes per month if you started posting every single day. One of the explanations people often give for not increasing their posting volume is a fear that if they post more often, the number of Likes and Comments they get per post will go down - that they’ll be working harder and experiencing diminishing returns. …But that’s not what the study observed, or what I’ve observed in my years of social media management experience.
That’s not to say there aren’t other studies that have suggested engagement rates fall on Instagram when you post more often. One study found that accounts that post more than once per day have slightly lower engagement rates (7%) than accounts that post less than once per week (8%). HOWEVER! Accounts that post frequently are also significantly more likely to be large accounts, and large accounts almost always have lower engagement rates than small accounts anyway…because large accounts tend to have a lot more lurkers (people who follow, but don’t engage with their posts). If we look at data like this, we’re effectively comparing apples and oranges. In the study I’m referring to in this blog (that I’ve found to be the most accurate representation of post frequency data), they looked at the same accounts over time as they increased their posting frequency - and discovered the exact opposite of what is commonly believed to be true.
For this study, Tailwind segmented the accounts by size, putting them into “buckets” of 10k or less followers, 10k-100k, and 100k+. Of course there were differences in how Likes, engagement rates, and followers grew with different posting frequencies depending on size, but the differences weren’t all that great - and the overall picture was the same, regardless of the account size. For simplicity’s sake, they then aggregated those numbers back together. What this tells us is that regardless of your account size, the spirit of these findings holds true: posting more actually increases engagement rate.
One thing that often gets lost in the conversation about “How often should I post to Instagram?” is that getting more of your content in front of people (and getting more Likes) isn’t the only advantage to posting more. Tailwind’s data showed me that accounts that post more grow faster, too - significantly faster. I learned that you can almost double your Follower growth rate by moving from less than one post per week to 1 - 6 posts a week. …And, you can more than double your follower growth rate again by moving from posting 1 - 6 times per week to twice per day. By posting to Instagram daily, you’ll grow followers 4x faster than posting less than once a week.
Considering how much faster accounts that post every day grow their Likes, engagement rate, and Followers, it’s a big surprise is that only 5% of accounts actually do post at least once per day. Many marketers try Instagram by posting infrequently. The data in this study suggests that these marketers won’t see the Follower growth or engagement on Instagram that they would if they committed to posting every single day.
The challenge to every social media manager is that coming up with ideas for daily posting is tough! Successful Instagram posts need to be both beautiful and engaging, but often the hardest part is just knowing what to post. Most people running a small (or large) business don’t have the time to plan and execute a daily post to their Instagram page - which is why it’s smart to hire an expert. If you’re looking for help growing your online presence (or keeping it consistent), drop me a line right here - I can take away that stress!