I’ve got a formula and a spreadsheet you can steal
One of the questions I’ve most often been asked by small business owners over the years is “how often should I post on Instagram?” and my answer is always “each account’s optimal posting frequency is different”.
There is no one posting frequency at which all Instagram accounts grow the fastest. Each account’s content and audience is unique, and therefore, each account’s optimal posting frequency (the posting frequency at which they grew the fastest) will be unique.
The only way to discover what your optimal posting frequency is, is to, every week, measure how many times you posted, how many new followers you gained, and gradually increase the number of posts you do per week until you find a posting frequency at which you grow the fastest.
Step 1: Create a spreadsheet to measure your growth and posting frequency over time
In my opinion, the most efficient way to find your optimal posting frequency is to use a simple spreadsheet to track how many new followers you gained and how many times you posted every week. Here’s an example of the spreadsheet I use and what you should measure in each column:
If it helps, you can view the formulas in my spreadsheet format or feel free to copy and use it for your account.
Step 2: Measure the follower growth and posting frequency of your account during the past 7 days on the same day every week
Once you have your spreadsheet, use it to write down the follower growth and posting frequency of your account during the past seven days on the same day every week. Now, this is important, make sure to do it on the same day every week always. If you don’t, the data you’ll get from each week will be of a different time period, and therefore, not comparable and not useful.
Step 3: Increase the number of posts you do and measure how that impacts your growth every week until you find the number of posts at which you grow the fastest (your optimal posting frequency)
Once you’re actively measuring your growth and posting frequency on the same day every week, you’ll find your optimal posting frequency by consistently increasing your posting rate until you find the number of posts you do per week at which you grow the fastest.
This example will help illustrate how you would execute it:
Here, I measured every Monday and this is how I got to my optimal posting frequency:
I didn’t post on my account for the first five weeks and grew between zero and three followers per week.
On the weeks of 07/06/2020 and 07/13/2020, I posted once per week and I grew on average about 16 followers per week at this pace.
On the weeks of 07/20/2020 and 07/27/2020, I posted twice per week and I grew on average about 37 followers per week at this pace. 21 more new followers on average vs. posting once per week.
On the weeks of 08/03/2020 and 08/10/2020, I posted three per week and I grew on average about 23 followers per week at this pace. 14 fewer new followers on average vs. posting twice per week. Since I grew at a slower pace by posting at this rate, I went back to testing the highest growth posting rate, which was twice per week.
On the weeks of 08/17/2020 and 08/24/2020, I went back to posting twice per week and I grew on average about 34 followers per week at this pace. On average, 18 more new followers than posting once per week and 11 more new followers than posting three times per week. Here,
the data shows me that posting twice per week is my optimal posting frequency.
Step 4: Every few months, test new posting frequencies to see if your optimal posting rate has changed
Since your audience, your content, and Instagram will change over time (check out my article about Is Instagram dying? to learn more about how), your optimal posting rate will also change over time. It’s because of this that it’s wise to test your optimal posting rate every few months (you’ll know when it’s right for you).
Use your spreadsheet and increase or decrease your weekly posting rate to see if the posting rate at which you grow the fastest has changed. If it has, that’ll be your new optimal posting rate. By consistently doing tests of your optimal frequency over time, you’ll adapt as Instagram changes.
Advice when finding your optimal posting frequency
From experience, I’ve learned that this system won’t work for everyone, in all cases, all the time. Here are a few insights I’ve learned that might help you in the journey to find your optimal posting rate:
When you’re measuring your posting rate, try to keep all other Instagram activity the same and only change your posting frequency:
You want your follower change each week to reflect the impact of your posting frequency. The more you change your Instagram tactics while you’re trying to find your posting rate, the less accurately your follower growth will reflect the impact of your posting frequency.
Post at the same rate for two or three weeks in a row:
As you know, users on Instagram and even the quality of your content can fluctuate from week to week. It’s because of this natural fluctuation that I’d recommend posting at the same rate for two or three weeks at a time before you decide to increase or decrease your posting rate based on your audience growth. An average of how much you grew at a particular posting rate for three weeks will be a MUCH more accurate representation of how your posts impact your growth in comparison to only measuring one week of growth at a particular posting rate.
Don’t count stories in your posting rate, only “grid” posts:
Stories aren’t surfaced within the Instagram algorithm nearly as much as grid posts and therefore they won’t likely impact your growth, they only serve to engage the audience you currently have.
Your content impacts your growth a lot more than the frequency at which you post:
How much your content is surfaced by the Instagram algorithm, and therefore, how fast your account grows, depends on how effective your content is at keeping people looking at the Instagram app (because that’s how Instagram makes money), not how often you post. If you’re able to create engaging content, posting it more frequently will definitely help you grow faster because there will be more of your content out there for people to discover.
Grow even faster bydesigning a visually distinctive Instagram grid when you post:
How nicely designed your Instagram grid is will greatly influence how fast you grow, so don’t sacrifice your Instagram grid for the sake of posting at a particular rate. To continually grow, you need to be able to create highly engaging content as well as a distinctive Instagram grid on top of being able to post frequently.
Automate your Instagram posts:
The most time-consuming and inefficient part of managing and growing an Instagram account is the time and energy it takes to stop everything you’re doing several times a day to take out your phone, open Instagram, take/upload a photo, write a caption and publish a post. Don’t let having to stick to an optimal posting frequency take up a lot of your time and automate the process of posting on Instagram, so you don’t have to do it.
If you can’t stick to your optimal posting frequency, don’t worry:
Sometimes, sticking to your optimal posting frequency can require more than you’re willing to give. If this is your case, like it is mine (the OPF of one of my accounts, @couplescacao, is two but I only post once per week), simply don’t post at that rate. The more you’re on Instagram, the more your mental health declines.
No amount of Instagram followers or posting rates are ever worth sacrificing your mental health for.
That’s it! That’s the super simple system that’ll help you identify your unique posting rate now and in the future. Hope it helps :)
By the way, if you want to learn more about how Instagram works, read these articles on how to know if your Instagram is worth growing?, why your Instagram account isn’t growing, how to create an Instagram repost account that makes money, Instagram bots 2022, the state of Instagram bot, or many other valuable topics through my Instagram Small Business YouTube channel.