Optimizing Your Instagram Scheduling Strategy: Everything to Know Before You Post

Want to grow your business through Instagram? Having an Instagram scheduling strategy can boost your engagement, grow your followers and help you reach more customers online. But it’s not just about knowing the best times to post on Instagram — the right scheduling strategy also helps you understand how often you should post and how to measure your success through analytics.

Here are the 4 steps to creating an Instagram workflow and scheduling strategy to grow your business:

Instagram Scheduling Strategy Step #1: How Often Will You Post on Instagram?

One of the biggest challenges a business faces when it comes to structuring their social media scheduling strategy is balancing quality and quantity. Being over-ambitious with the amount of content you plan to share could risk impacting the overall quality and real value of each post for your audience. And in the competitive world of Instagram, quality trumps quantity every time.

Tip #1: Determine Your Team’s Capacity

First things first: how much high-quality content is your team able to realistically produce? You may have a ton of great ideas for Instagram content, but you also need to account for the time it will take to create it, post it, reply to comments, and report on it.

If you’re an online store selling products, then most of your Instagram content will likely be original content. You’ll want to have product shots and lifestyle content, and you can also supplement your feed with user-generated content from your customers too!

If you don’t have the resources to create original content, you can tailor your Instagram strategy to the content that you are able to create. For example, you can design your own Instagram quote posts in Adobe Spark to fill your feed with on-brand content.

Spend some time analyzing how much time you and your team have to comfortably start building a stronger Instagram scheduling strategy, and then brainstorm feasible content ideas from there!

Tip #2: Brainstorm for Each Instagram Channel Separately

Instagram has evolved over the years to become more than just about posting photos to your feed. Now your Instagram strategy needs to include your Instagram feed (photos and videos), Instagram Stories (images or short videos), and your IGTV channel (longer-form content). When you’re coming up with ideas for your Instagram account, you should think about these three channels separately — Instagram feed posts, Instagram Stories, and IGTV. Depending on your business goals on Instagram or content styles, you may want to dedicate more time to content creation for Instagram Stories than feed posts, or vice versa. Plus, this gives you a chance to brainstorm for any regular content features you’d like to produce each week or each month.

For example, Later regularly posts to their feed with the #LaterFeature hashtag to showcase brands and businesses who are creating great Instagram content for their followers.

Similarly, Everlane does a “Transparency Tuesday” series on their Instagram Stories each week where they answer questions from their followers in a exceptionally transparent way. Having a regular series for your Instagram can also help you save time from constantly coming up with new ideas!

Tip #3: Consider the Types of Posts You Create

While you’re brainstorming around your content ideas, you should also plan for creating a balance with the type of content you produce, like photos, videos, carousel posts, collages, and GIFs. For example, did you know that engagement rates on videos are growing faster than images? To have an engaging and healthy content mix, you’ll want to have diversity in the type of content you produce. So while your brand aesthetic may favor flat-lay product images or video content, you don’t want to post the same thing over and over to your Instagram or you’ll risk losing followers. If you have different types of content — like carousel posts, videos, IGTV videos, or shopping posts — within your Instagram scheduling strategy, you’ll be able to maintain a higher engagement with your followers.

Also, try to avoid posting too many product or shopping posts in succession. While the Instagram Shopping Sticker and product tags are great drivers for converting followers into customers, you want to make sure that you’re maintaining a balance between inspirational posts, great imagery, and sales opportunities.

Take a look at how Create & Cultivate manages to curate a feed that harmoniously integrates photography posts, alongside videos, carousels, graphics, and GIFs — all while maintaining its recognizable and robust aesthetic.

When you include different types of content into your feed, your followers will be more likely to keep scrolling through the  content and engage with more across your profile! Once you’ve nailed down how much time you can dedicate to Instagram content and focused on your content plan, you can start to think about your posting frequency and your Instagram scheduling.

Instagram Scheduling Strategy Step #2: Find Your Best Time to Post on Instagram

Finding your best time to post on Instagram is the best thing you can do to optimize your scheduling strategy and get more engagement on your posts. Why? The Instagram algorithm prioritizes “new” content on people’s feeds, which means that if you post when the majority of your followers are scrolling through the app, you can hack the algorithm to increase your reach and get more likes. In a study of over 12 million Instagram posts, Later found that the best time to post on Instagram is between 9am and 11am EST.

But every account has a different audience, in different time zones, so it’s crucial that you find your personal best time to post. There are 3 main ways to find your best time to post on Instagram in 2019:

  1. Use Later’s Best Time to Post feature to automatically calculate your top 7 posting times
  2. Find your top time zones and see when your followers are online in the insights section of your Instagram account
  3. Experiment with different posting times and measure your progress

Instagram has its own native analytics, Instagram Insights, and it offers up some great data on your audience’s behavior patterns. Just keep in mind that to access Insights, you’ll need to set up an Instagram business profile.

Using the Audience tab, you can see where your followers are located, their gender, their age, and, most importantly, when they’re most active on Instagram. From here, you’ll be able to pinpoint the time slots that your audience is most engaged on Instagram and build your content calendar around these windows. You can then experiment with different posting times, track your engagement in a spreadsheet, and after a few weeks you will have a good idea of what times perform best for your account. If you don’t want to do any testing or calculations, Later’s Best Time to Post feature automatically calculates your 7 top posting times based on your best performing posts from the recent month.

Once you know your best times to post, this will be the foundation for your Instagram scheduling strategy.

Instagram Scheduling Strategy Step #3: Schedule and Post Your Content for the Week Ahead

When it comes to managing an Instagram profile, you should be scheduling Instagram posts in advance — one or two weeks is enough, as it gives you time to plan, prepare, and schedule your posts for your audience. Scheduling Instagram posts can also help you create more engaging content because it gives you more time to sit down to create captions that convert!

Here are some things to keep in mind when planning out your content for the week ahead.

#1: Save Time by Uploading Instagram Posts from Your Desktop

Just because Instagram is a mobile app, doesn’t mean that you have to do everything on your phone. Using a free Instagram scheduler like Later that lets you upload Instagram posts from your desktop will save you a ton of time when trying to get your photos from your computer to your phone.

#2: Create Better Instagram Captions

A good Instagram caption is key to inspiring your followers to take action from your Instagram post, whether that’s tapping to shop your product or clicking the link in your bio to visit your website. But coming up with quality Instagram captions can be a challenge — especially if you’re writing them on the fly from your phone. Instead of trying to come up with new captions every day, you can sit down at your computer and plan out all of your captions for the week at once when you’re feeling creative or in the “writing zone.”

#3: Pay Attention to Your Aesthetic

Are you thinking in “grid format” when you’re scheduling your Instagram content? You should be! For many brands and businesses on Instagram, maintaining their Instagram aesthetic and their overall look and feel on their profile page is essential. So it’s important to start looking at your posting schedule as a “grid” and not as a stand-alone post.

When you schedule Instagram posts, you can plan out the look and feel of your Instagram profile ahead of time using a drag-and-drop visual planner.

This way, you’ll be able to easily see what your images look like side-by-side, on top of, and below one another, and even diagonally across! Thinking in “grid terms” is the best way to nail your Instagram aesthetic and make sure you’re always delivering a cohesive style.

#4: Optimize Your Instagram Post with Hashtags

Instagram hashtags are still an effective way to get more eyes (and engagement!) on your Instagram posts in 2019. A post with at least one Instagram hashtag averages 12.6% more engagement than posts without a hashtag, so adding hashtags into your Instagram strategy can help you get more followers and likes on your posts.

When scheduling your posts, take the time to do Instagram hashtag research and customize your hashtags for each individual post, instead of just adding the same group of hashtags to all your posts.

Instagram Scheduling Strategy Step #4: Analyze Your Engagement Metrics to Plan for the Future

Over time, your Instagram scheduling strategy will evolve and grow, and you may find that you’ll need to change things up every once in a while. But every change to your Instagram strategy should be based on facts and data to help you better reach your goals. It’s crucial that you regularly check in on your Instagram analytics and monitor the patterns and changes in your profile’s performance.

We recommend keeping a monthly Instagram report document to regularly check and manage your stats, and see how you’re progressing towards your goals. With regular monitoring, you can find key learnings based on your scheduling strategy and your performance. Then, you can confidently adjust and improve your Instagram scheduling strategy for the future! A robust and optimized Instagram scheduling strategy is one of the best assets you can have for your brand or business.

With strong content plans, high-engagement scheduling time frames, and a regular reporting method in place, you’re bound to see growth on your Instagram profile. Just start by following these 4 steps to improving your scheduling strategy, and you’ll soon find it’s easy to continuously enhance your Instagram marketing for the future!

Taylor Loren is the Head of Content Marketing at Later, the #1 Instagram marketing platform. She was named a LinkedIn Top Voice for social media marketing, and you can follow her on Instagram at @taylor.loren for more Instagram tips and a look inside life at Later.