How to improve Instagram engagement through timely posts.

Use creative content, a strategic posting schedule, and Instagram analytics to drive higher engagement with your audience.

Colorful design of Instagram profiles on two tablet computers

Creating a strategy for your business’s Instagram account.

If you’re looking to grow your business with social media marketing on Instagram, a scheduling strategy can boost your engagement, grow your followers, and help you connect with customers. But there’s more to successfully using Instagram than simply finding the right day of the week to post images. Success depends on optimizing your content and posting frequency, and how you utilize analytics tools.

Follow these steps to create an Instagram workflow and scheduling strategy that will deliver high engagement numbers and help you grow your business.

Step 1: Determine how often to post on Instagram.

When structuring your social media scheduling strategy, it’s important to balance quality and quantity. In the world of Instagram content, quality trumps quantity every time. If you’re overly ambitious and try to create a post every weekday, the overall caliber of your content could decline. But if you focus only on quality, you might not be posting enough.

Mocked up editorial calendar with some days filled with an image or sample writing

Consider your business goals.

Social media can help you create an online presence for your business whether your goal is to increase brand awareness, get new leads, or sell products. What you choose to focus on should depend on your brand, your industry, and the goals of your business. So, before you start crafting Instagram content, consider why you want to build a brand online. These goals should determine how you proceed and what kind of content you make.

Decide how much content to create.

Your available resources will determine the amount of quality content you can realistically produce. You may have lots of creative ideas for content, but you need the budget and time to create it, post it, reply to comments, and analyze the metrics.

There are three main channels of Instagram content to consider: Instagram feed posts, Instagram Stories, and IGTV. Depending on your business and goals for Instagram, the type of content you’ll produce will vary. If your business is an online store, you’ll most likely create original content including product shots and lifestyle content. If your time or budget is limited, consider sharing quote posts or user-generated images from your fans. Determine the best day and plan to post at least once a week to ensure fresh content comes across your users’ feeds.

3 phone wireframes side by side of sample Instagram content

Brainstorm content for Instagram posts.

Once the time and budget parameters of your Instagram strategy have been set, brainstorm content for your business.

  • Plan to create a mixture of content: A healthy mix of photos, videos, collages, or GIFs will keep your target audience more engaged. If you rely too much on one kind of post, you risk losing Instagram followers. Tools like Adobe Express can help you quickly make compelling graphics and videos to keep your audience interested.
  • Create content for each Instagram channel separately: The content you post on your Instagram Stories should be different from your regular Instagram feed posts.
  • Brainstorm themes and topics you can turn into ongoing series: Series like “Motivation Monday” can speak to your business mission or goals — or your audience’s goals — and can bring an element of timeliness to your social media channels.
Collage of different square designs of marketing content
Multiple phone wireframes with different marketing content

Step 2: Research the best times to post.

Once you’ve zeroed in on how much time you can dedicate to crafting Instagram content, it’s time to start researching the optimal time to post it. Finding the right time to post for your audience is the best thing a business can do to increase engagement. The Instagram algorithm prioritizes new content on people’s feeds, so if you post when a majority of your audience is online, your chances of appearing on their feeds increases. Posting at peak times boosts your reach and can result in more likes.

Research your specific audience on Instagram.

Because every account has a unique audience in different time zones, the perfect time to post will vary from business to business. Understanding your followers is key to being successful. Maybe they browse Instagram with their morning coffee, during the lunch hour, or throughout the workday. If you have a business account, you can access Instagram Insights, an analytics platform native to the app. This offers up data on your followers’ behaviors and actions. You can find their location, ages, and when they’re active online. From here, it’s a simple step to build your content calendar and posting schedule around those specific times.

Experiment with different posting times.

If you don’t immediately find success, try testing different posting times using an Instagram scheduling tool, and keep track of your progress. If early morning doesn’t work well, try different peak times. After a few weeks of posting, see if timing significantly affected your engagement rates. You may find that certain kinds of posts perform better at different times.

Step 3: Create and schedule Instagram posts.

Make the most of your audience research by creating and scheduling your content in advance. Planning ahead ensures you have quality content ready at the best posting time and gives you space to craft creative and thoughtful posts.

Three mobile phone wireframes with different marketing content on them

Make visually compelling content.

Everything you post on Instagram should be made with your audience and business goals in mind. If your brand sells a product, find unique ways to include your packaging in your Instagram photos. If you have a lifestyle brand, avoid posting too many product shots, and instead use images with people in them that create a specific vibe or feeling for the user.

Always use high-quality photos and videos. If you have to use stock images, layer in text or graphics to give them a custom edge. Beautiful, interesting content performs better online, so take time and invest resources in what you post on your channel.

Craft an Instagram aesthetic.

When creating and scheduling your Instagram content, it’s important to look at your posting schedule as a grid and not as standalone posts. When your followers click on your profile, they’ll see your content in columns and rows, so be sure to consider the overall look and feel you want. All of your business’s content should work together. One way to make sure everyone on your team is using the same color palettes and style guides is with Adobe Creative Cloud for teams. Creative Cloud Libraries allow your team to share assets, collaborate more easily, and ensure your brand is delivering a cohesive style.

Two chocolate ice cream bars next to each other
Assortment of chocolates neatly organized into a square

Write better Instagram captions.

The key to a great Instagram caption is inspiring your followers to take a specific action. Whether you want them to shop for your product or click the link in your bio, a creative and clear caption can make it happen, resulting in higher engagement. Coming up with interesting captions can be hard, especially if you’re writing them on the fly. Instead, plan all your captions for the week at once when you’re feeling creative.

Add hashtags to optimize your Instagram post.

Hashtags are an effective way to increase the reach of your Instagram posts, but be sure to use them strategically. Copying and pasting the same giant list of hashtags at the end of every caption isn’t a good idea — don’t forget, quality over quantity. Instead, do some research and see what hashtags your audience and your competitors are using. Consider creating your own funny, branded hashtags as well. General, universally used hashtags can make your content easier to find and unique hashtags can grab people’s attention.

An assortment of icons and images around a wireframe of a mobile phone

Engage with your audience.

Making compelling content is good for your brand, but you also need to respond to comments and interact with your fans online. Social media is all about community and communication, so don’t be afraid to respond to comments, like posts, and share user-generated content from your customers. (Be sure to properly tag users and give credit where appropriate.)

Always respond to comments or posts in the voice of your brand. While social media is a place to be casual, approachable, and funny, your social media platforms still represent the official voice of your brand. Be thoughtful when engaging online, and keep your brand voice at the forefront of your interactions.

Step 4: Analyze your metrics to improve engagement rates.

Your Instagram scheduling strategy will evolve over time. You may need to change tactics or creative styles regularly to keep your content fresh, but every adjustment should be strategic and based on facts and data. Regularly check your Instagram analytics tools and create a monthly report to track your progress over time. With regular reporting you can more easily see what works for your business’s page and confidently improve your strategy for the future.

With creative social media content, a strategic posting schedule, and structured reporting, your business’s Instagram engagement is sure to improve. But don’t stop there. Remember, your Instagram strategy is just one part of a complete content marketing effort. Give your business a leg up by crafting a full content marketing strategy to guide content creation across all digital channels.

Creating standout social content takes creativity and the right tools. Consider using Creative Cloud for teams — a membership that gives your team access to all the apps they need to quickly create eye-catching GIFs, social assets, and stunning photos.

This article is adapted from Taylor Loren's "Optimizing Your Instagram Scheduling Strategy: Everything to Know Before You Post.”

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