The Best Time to Post Instagram Reels for Maximum Engagement

The best time to post Reels on Instagram is different for every brand. Here’s how to find yours.

The Best Time to Post Instagram Reels for Maximum Engagement

Reels are a core feature of Instagram and part of everyone’s social media strategy. Part of that strategy is determining the best time to post Reels on Instagram, as opposed to static feed posts.

Finding the best time to post Reels will boost engagement and grow your brand’s account. Even quality content with creative ideas can flop if posted at the wrong time.

The Best Times to Post Instagram Reels at a Glance

User data suggests that the best time to post on Instagram Reels is between 9am and 12pm, Monday to Thursday.

While that rule of thumb is good to keep in mind, it’s not the whole story. Let’s go over how to figure out the best time to post Instagram Reels for your account, as well as why getting the timing right for this format is important to your overall Instagram strategy.

Table of contents:

How Reels Changed Instagram

Video on Instagram pre-dates Reels. Before the launch, users were able to post square videos in their feed, or vertical videos in their story. Still, the primary focus on Instagram was static photo posts.

Now Instagram Reels have taken the place of most feed posts, flooding the specific Reels feed (which feels much like TikTok’s FYP) and the standard feed alike.

If anything is to blame for the advent of Reels on Instagram, it’s TikTok.

Reels are Instagram’s answer to the massive trend of short, vertical videos. Announced by Meta in August 2020, the feature rolled out globally in 2022 and doesn’t look to be going anywhere anytime soon.

The concept is very similar to TikTok: short vertical videos (up to 90 seconds), made with multiple clips and audio layered using an editor native to the Instagram app. Like TikTok users, Instagram users can incorporate filters and augmented reality special effects.

Even the design is incredibly similar to TikTok, with buttons on the right side to like, comment, or share a Reel.

Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg has been questioned by Congress about his products copying other social media platforms. He replied, “We’ve certainly adapted features that others have led in.”

This shift has changed how Instagram users interact with content and which posts they engage with.

📚 Learn more: How to Post a Long Video on Instagram

How Instagram Reels Boost Your Audience Engagement

Like many Instagram users, you might feel that posting photos onInstagram doesn't net the same results it used to anymore. Photos on Instagram don't get as many views, comments, shares, or likes as they did before Reels. And that's not just anecdotal; we have the data to back it up.

Since Reels launched, the engagement rate for static feed posts has actually dropped — by 44% since 2019, according to Later.

Not by accident, either. Meta has shifted its focus to prioritizing Instagram Reels and Later reported seeing a more than 500% increase in engagement since implementing Reels into their Instagram strategy.

In July 2022, Zuckerberg shared in an earnings call that Reels made up 20% of the time Instagram users spent on the app. And that all happened within two years of the U.S. launch.

While Adam Mosseri claims that photos are still important on Instagram, it’s clear that vertical short video in the forms of Reels — which can now be 90 seconds long — is critical to the future of the platform. Which means it’s critical to your Instagram strategy.

Figuring out the best time to post Reels on Instagram will keep your Instagram presence fresh and engaging.

Instagram Reels Have Higher Engagement Rates

In terms of engagement, we know Reels show a higher rate than other content types on Instagram.

According to Social Insider, Instagram Reels had an average engagement rate of 1.95% in 2022 — that’s double the engagement rate of static images, and higher than regular video content on Instagram.

They also found the engagement rate varied depending on how many followers an account has. For accounts with under 5,000 followers, the engagement rate was a whopping 3.79% on average. For the largest account, it was 1.38%.

Instagram Reels Receive More Interaction from Users

According to research from Emplifi, Reels received 40% more interaction from users in the second quarter of 2022.

While organic interactions are declining on Instagram overall over time, interactions on Reels have been the slowest to decline.

Instagram Reels Have a High Reach Rate

Looking back at Social Insider’s data, we see that Reels are the best-performing content on Instagram. According to them, the average reach rate for Instagram Reels in 2022 was 20.59%. Again, it was shown that small accounts had the highest reach.

That demonstrates that Reels are a winning strategy, even for accounts just beginning to build their presence on Instagram.

Meta Prioritizes Showing Users Reels to Instagram Users

Much of the reason that Reels are doing so well on Instagram is that Instagram itself is intent on pushing this content in users’ feeds.

In the Explore tab, Reels are given prominent placement. Without even swiping, you’ll see two spots for Reels. When you do search for a topic, the first three results will also be Reels.

As well, when users are swiping through their stories, Instagram inserts a recommended Reels page.

That’s all in addition to the Reels tab where users can swipe through Instagram Reels like they’d swipe through TikToks. From there, they can share the Reels to their Instagram Stories.

Combined, it’s a signal that Instagram wants brands to post Reels and, if they do, Instagram is happy to promote them.

Alright, now that we understand the importance of Reels for getting your content in front of your audience, let’s discuss when to post Instagram Reels to ensure the best reach.

The Best Time to Post Instagram Reels in General

The best time to post an Instagram Reel, according to data, isbetween 9 a.m. and 12 p.m., Monday to Thursday.

That’s according to Hootsuite, who analyzed over 30,000 Instagram posts as well as their own Instagram audience. Interestingly, they say the best time to post on Instagram overall is Wednesday at 11.m. But they’re not the only ones who have done this research.

The Best Time to Post Instagram Reels During The Week

In 2022, Influencer Marketing Hub analyzed more than 100,000 short-form video posts, looking at their unique engagement rates. According to them, these are the best times to post an Instagram Reel, all in Eastern Standard Time hours:

Monday: 6 a.m., 10 a.m., 10 p.m
Tuesday: 2 a.m., 4 a.m., 9 a.m.
Wednesday: 7 a.m., 8 a.m., 11 p.m.
Thursday: 9 a.m., 12 p.m., 7 p.m.
Friday: 5 a.m. 1 p.m., 3 p.m.
Saturday: 11 a.m., 7 p.m., 8 p.m.
Sunday: 7 a.m., 8 a.m., 4 p.m.

If those times seem a little all over the place, that’s because they are. Because Instagram is prioritizing Reels in its algorithm, there are multiple opportunities to post Reels that reach your target audience and achieve maximum engagement.

These generic times based on averages don’t tell the full story, though. They’re based on a global audience, but that might not be who you’re trying to reach. Your unique target audience, content type, and location have an impact on determining the best time to post TikTok Reels for your own brand.

Finding the Best Time to Post on Instagram Reels for Your Brand

Now that we know the best time to post Instagram Reels, on average, you can use that as a good starting point and dig further to find out the best time to post for you, specifically. Here are a few tips to narrow down the best time to post Reels.

Create a Professional Instagram Account (Also Known as a Business or Creator Account)

The first thing to do is make sure you’re using a professional Instagram account, as opposed to a personal one. Switching over unlocks analytics tools and other features that will give deeper insights into your audience and post performance. These used to be called a business or creator account.

To switch, click the icon at the top right of your Instagram profile. Go to Settings, then Account types and tools. There you’ll see an option to switch a professional account. You can always return to this screen to switch back to a personal account.

Check Your Instagram Insights

With your professional account unlocked, you will now be able to access Instagram Insights on each post or Reel.

To check the Instagram insights on posts in your feed, click the “View insights” button under each post. This will pull up an Instagram Insights screen that contains the date and time the post was shared. From there, you can see how many accounts were reached, likes, comments, shares, and bookmarks, amongst other data.

To see the Instagram Insights on your Reels, open a Reel from your profile and click the “...” icon. From there, you’ll see an “Insights” button with a graph icon. Like on posts, this will show you user interactions and accounts reach, including how many of those accounts follow you.

Unfortunately, it does not include the exact time of day you posted the Reel. You’ll need to track that yourself.

Using this information from Instagram Insights, you can start to look for patterns that appear in posts and Reels that have a significant amount of engagement. Do Reels posted on Tuesdays have higher engagement? Do posts shared in the morning have more likes? Do Reels shared on Fridays get fewer views overall?

This analysis will give you insight into when your followers and your target audience are most active on Instagram, pointing you towards the best time to post Reels.

Consider Your Target Audience’s Time Zones

Instgram’s native analytics tools can show you which time zones the majority of your audience lives in.

Go to your Instagram profile page and click the professional dashboard button. From there, click account insights, then accounts reached.

This will show you the top countries and top cities where the people who engage with your content are located. Now, you can narrow down an ideal time to post Reels for your account.

If your top country is Canada, and the top city is Toronto, that tells you that your audience is located in EST time zone. If we combine that with the data from above, then weekday mornings in EST are a safe bet for a good time to post a Reel.

Conversely, if your content is reaching an audience in a location that is not your target audience, switch up your post times to cater to the time zones you actually want to reach.

Post Reels More Consistently

All those analytics tools are only useful if you already have a catalog of content on Instagram. The more you post consistently, the more of your own Instagram data you can collect to pinpoint the best time to post Instagram Reels.

You can use the generic, research-based best time to post Instagram Reels as a jumping off point. Try each of the recommended times and see what resonates with your target audience by checking your account analytics.Posting consistently means giving yourself the best opportunity to find times that will offer maximum engagement.

However, a word of warning: don’t overdo it. If you post Instagram Reels too close together you won’t give any single one a chance to shine and find your target audience.

Take a look at Chipotle, for example.

They have 1.2 million followers on Instagram and great engagement on their Reels, with some having millions of views. But they don’t post every day. In fact, they only post a Reel about once per week.

Consider the Best Time to Post Timely Content

Sometimes timing is more about the actual content than when your audience is most active. Evergreen content makes sense to post on a finely-tuned schedule based on analytics, but more timely content can’t always wait.

For example, look at this Reel from entertainment publication Variety.

The Reel is of Ke Huy Quan’s acceptance speech at the 2023 Oscars. Variety posted this shortly after his speech, on the evening of March 12, at the same time the moment was going viral across social media. If they had waited, they may have missed out on the 2.8M views and over 130,000 likes the post generated.

If your Reel is tied to an event or viral moment, don’t wait — post it. The same is true for using trending audio and songs. It's better to post sooner rather than later and miss the wave.

Invest in an Instagram Analytics Tool to Find the Best Time to Post

Manually monitoring the engagements on your Instagram Reels can be done with a simple spreadsheet, but it’s a time-consuming process.

If you have the budget for it, an Instagram analytics tools can give a more digestible and thorough look at the performance of your Reels, as well as insights about your audience. Social media tools like this can be a smart investment for your brand.

Some available Instagram analytics tools include:

  • Later
  • Sprout Social
  • Hootsuite
  • Iconosquare
  • Keyhole
  • Squarelovin

Some of these social media management tools will also allow you to schedule posts.

Analyze and optimize to find the best time to post Reels

There’s a certain amount of trial and error when it comes to finding the best time to post Reels.

While there is data available that points to the best time to post Reels, the true best time to post is different for every brand on the platform. Your unique target audience, video content, and analytics will determine what that time is.

The best action you can take is to keep posting regularly and analyzing the performance of your Instagram reels. Over time, with careful monitoring, you can narrow down windows when your content will find maximum engagement and plan your posting schedule accordingly.

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