Hour-by-hour study of 1M Instagram posts shows we’re all up late, longing for the past.

Instagram announced a major milestone earlier this week – 400 million users in the nearly five years since its launch. With this growth and the number of options now available for brands to engage this audience, it has become increasingly important to understand users’ behavior.

Since the launch of our Instagram Influencer Activation Engine beta program, we’ve analyzed more than one million Instagram posts. Our study revealed the most popular time to post on Instagram is midnight, with the highest volume of posts occurring on Thursdays. We also explored the behavior of 2,000 micro-influencers, or everyday people with an average of 500-5,000 followers across social networks, who are highly engaging around particular topics to identify follower-to-following correlations.

Timing is Everything

Based on the 1.3 million Instagram posts analyzed, we found midnight, 3pm and 4pm the most popular times to post, with Thursday, Friday and Wednesday being the most popular days. For brands, the data implies an opportunity to earn higher engagement during off hours, such as 6am to 12pm – when overall posting volume is low, but people are still likely using their mobile devices. In addition to timing, hashtags were a large driver of engagement. With #TBT (“Throw Back Thursday”) and #WCW (“Woman Crush Wednesday”) among the most-used hashtags, brands can thoughtfully engage and stand out from the content masses.

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“Today, it’s not enough for a brand to blindly post on social media and expect conversions,” said Mavrck Co-founder and CEO Lyle Stevens. “The good news is, with the data we have and continue to collect, brands can better understand the behaviors of users and connect with them in more meaningful ways. As traditional ads take a hit, strategically crafting and timing posts, and activating micro-influencers, will be a crucial way for brands to stay relevant amongst their fan base.”

Micro-influencers Matter

We also specifically focused on the Instagram behavior of influential millennial women aged 25-40, among the key consumer demographics with the highest disposable income and household buying power. Of the 2,000 micro-influencers sampled to determine trends in followers-to-following correlations:

  • Every extra year in age led to a 0.15% decrease in the number of followers
  • A 1% increase in following led to a 0.79% increase in followers
  • The top 75th percentile of the group boasted a .81 followers-to-following ratio or higher (an indicator of peer influence and engagement)

This study was conducted using Mavrck’s Influencer Activation Engine, which analyzed over 1M Instagram posts. Our proprietary and patented algorithm helps brands determine and activate their most influential customers to create branded content at scale and drive conversion on social. To join to our Instagram beta program, please visit: https://prod.lylestone.co/instagram.