You’ve probably been told you need to post daily on Instagram.
The story is often told the same way: if you don’t post at least once a day, you’ll never grow, the algorithm won’t show your posts to anyone, and your followers will lose interest in you.
You’ve maybe wondered how to keep up with this pace. Maybe you’ve felt overwhelmed or even burnt out at the prospect of so much time on social media in addition to all the other work you have to do.
There is a little bit of truth here in that posting regularly is actually helpful. But every day is actually not necessary — it actually might be a bit too much.
Here’s your ideal posting schedule, according to the algorithm
The Instagram algorithm is a mysterious beast, but it isn’t a complete unknown.
We know that the algorithm doesn’t boost accounts that post all the time just because they’re churning out a lot of content. Instead, the Instagram algorithm boosts posts that receive engagement.
When you post on Instagram, your post will show up on the feeds of people who are your “top followers,” or, as some people call them, “top advocates.” These are people who regularly like, comment, share, or save your content.
If your post does well with that select group of people, then it gets boosted to a wider number of followers, or perhaps a wider number of people following a certain hashtag.
Following the @creators account on Instagram is a great first step to demystify the algorithm and learn more about where you should focus your efforts to grow your account.
For example, during Instagram’s Creator Week in June 2021, Instagram chief Adam Mosseri hosted a Q&A (which he does frequently!) in which he revealed that posting about 2 feed posts per week and 2 Stories per day is ideal for building a following on the app.
Posting regularly helps to build familiarity with your audience. And familiarity has been proven to lower the threshold of getting someone to like something. If they see you and your posts repeatedly, the mere fact that you’re familiar will make them like seeing you.
As in life, it’s nice to see a familiar face. And when someone is familiar, it makes you feel like you should know more about that person, and actively engage with them.
But familiarity is just the first step. It has to be accompanied by quality content.
What is value and how can you include it in your content?
Value is the most important element of an Instagram post. If it isn’t valuable in some way to the person seeing it, then they have no reason to engage with it. They didn’t get anything out of it, so they aren’t likely to remember it or care about it.
“Value” can mean a lot of things. It can mean education or entertainment or encouragement. Some examples of popular valuable posts are:
- Infographic carousels about facts relevant to your audience/niche
- Long captions that tell an engaging story and offer inspiration
- Reels and videos of yourself/your business showing your personality and process
- Post or video-sharing “trade secrets” or information that would benefit your audience
No matter what type of content you’re posting, it’s got to feel substantial and real.
It’s much better to skip a day and not post at all, instead of posting an uninteresting photo with a boring caption. A low-quality post won’t get as much engagement, which will hurt you the next time you go to post something. The algorithm may not boost your content quite as much.
Posting consistently good content — even if that means posting a little less often — is much more important than posting as often as possible.
One way to make sure that you’re posting valuable content is to make content in advance. You can make posts as you come up with them, and then schedule them for later or you can batch content.
Sit down one day and brainstorm plenty of posts in advance, and then roll them out over a period of time. You can even help this process go faster by using templates and scheduling tools like Later to give yourself peace of mind. You’ll have content going out regularly, and it’s content you’ll be proud of.
After you post, listen to your followers
Choose a schedule that works for you and that you know you’ll be able to stick to. Having a system might just give you extra free time because you’re making fewer decisions about what to post when. And then you can set aside some time to evaluate how your posts are actually doing once they’re out in the world. Are they getting engagement? If so, what kind? What posts are doing really well and which posts are flopping?
Then, the next time you sit down to make content, you can make more of the kinds of posts that are doing well. Listen to your audience, and use their feedback to guide you. This is not to say that you should say something you don’t mean just because you think people will like to hear it. You should still be making content that is meaningful to you. The idea is to find the sweet spot of content that is meaningful to you and is also really striking a chord with your audience.
Listening to audience feedback can help you narrow down your niche and focus on a certain type of content that helps you respond to a need in your audience.In the end, your goal is to provide enriching content. You’re on Instagram to provide value and also to have a conversation. Keep the focus on engagement — both the kind that you get from your followers and also the engagement you give back to your followers. Use that as your compass, and before long, you’ll start to notice growth.