The short answer : doesn’t matter, as long as you are consistent. Which means that if you post once a week, you should always post once a week. If you post twice a day ( once in the morning and once in the evening ), you should always post twice a day, at the approximate same time.
This is one of the most frequently asked questions at my workshops, from small business entrepreneurs, solo entrepreneurs, artists, photographers etc. The question is relevant for anyone who is trying to use the Instagram platform to enhance their online presence, showcase their work and talent, do business.
There is no denying that Instagram, as a platform, is important enough for you to have a presence on. No one can predict how long the platform will be around. ( Which is why you need to save your content and also publish it to your or your brand’s blog. ) If you’re not on Instagram, you’re not utilizing a platform that can help you build your brand, do more business, reach more people ( possible customers ), and make more money.
And I haven’t even commented on the community aspect of the platform, which can have its own benefits. As well as the dangers of comments from insecure trolls and mob harassment. I’ll leave that for another blog post because that’s an important aspect to deal with as well.
I was at an Aribnb recently, during our beach vacation to Sri Lanka. I strongly advised the owners to put the property on Instagram. It is a beautiful property and it’s a travesty that when I post about it on Instagram, I cannot tag their handle. Their counter was that they had attempted to build a website previously and it had ended up causing more issues than providing marketing. This was because possible guests were contacting the owners via the website and not through the Airbnb platform, asking for discounts, special treatment, etc. This problem is going to exists even if they create an Instagram account – people WILL send them Direct Messages ( or DMs ). Since DMs are not a professional method of communication, they can be ignored & the sender will know that the message was never seen by the Instagram account’s handler. In the property’s Instagram bio, a link to their page on Airbnb can be provided. Whenever a guest posts a nice photograph of the property and tags the property’s Instagram handle, the hosts can reach out to the guest, seek their permission and re-post that image to the property’s Instagram account. Slowly but surely, establish a posting schedule, save up the images and content and establish a solid editorial calendar.
To understand what posting schedule would be most relevant to you and your work / business, you may want to consider the following :
1. How much content do you have available to post on Instagram?
Most often, I have an average of 100 images in my Google Drive folder that are potential posts for my Instagram account. I don’t always post about things that happening right now. If I go to an event that I have committed to a brand to post about, I endeavor to post about it within 24 hours of attending the event. Apart from that, some of the images from photography assignments, turn up on my Instagram after a few days, a few weeks and sometimes even a few months. And then there’s the nostalgia #ThrowBack updates from assignments that might be a few years old as well. If you have a bank of images ready to go, you can plan a posting schedule without any gaps. If I have 100 images for a year, I know I can post once in three days easily and might even risk posting once in two days because I am going to be producing more work as I go along. If you don’t have an image bank at all, I suggest you get around to building one before you decide on a posting schedule otherwise you’ll be left chasing your own tail.
2. How often do new things take place in your work / life? Or how often are new things planned?
This is another factor that can help you decide how often to post. As I mentioned above in point no. one, I know I will be producing more work as I go along – more photography assignments will come my way and I will have more images. My average might be 100 images in the Google Drive folder but it can even go upto 400, which is what I currently have because I shot two assignments and two travel stories. This allows me to be even more selective in the images that I post. If there was an image that I was previously only posting on Instagram as a filler, I might now have a much better image and can discard the previous one.
You might not be a professional photographer but you are going to need a good photographer to create images for you or you could learn it yourself. If you use a photographer who understands branding half as well as they understand photography, it will be even more beneficial to your brand in the long run.
Plan images around new product launches, new events, etc.
3. How much do you feel is “too much”? How often are others in a space similar to yours, posting?
A little bit of research into how others are posting might be helpful. Don’t aim to copy what someone else is doing but the more you see, the more you will realize what you are most comfortable with.
I have made the mistake of posting 11-12 times a day in the early days of my Instagram. I was eager to share all the work I’d ever done before Instagram even existed. All this work was already published on my blog. It makes me cringe a bit to think how my updates must have flooded everyone’s timelines. Hearing too much from one person can be irritating – no one likes feeling that they’re not doing enough – and seeing someone else posting about something new, twelve times a day, can be demoralizing. Best to unfollow. I only realized this when someone else I used to follow started posting 11-12 times a day and annoyed me.
Currently, I usually post once a day. Sometimes it’s in the morning – can be 10/11 a.m. or 12 noon – and sometimes it’s in the evening – usually around 7 or 8 or 9 pm.
Sometimes, when I have multiple commitments, I might post two times in one day. But this is rare. Maybe I’ll do this once in two months. If I absolutely have to.
4. What is your reason for being on Instagram? Why are you even posting at all?
If you’re posting on Instagram to “keep up with the competition”, then you can post as much or as little as you want, it won’t work. Your motivation is misplaced. You’ve already lost the plot.
If you see someone being successful on Instagram, you have to look at what parameters you’ve set to define that “success”. If someone has a million followers, are they “successful”? You know you can buy fake followers. Wrong metric.
A business or person might be successful offline and might have a mediocre presence on Instagram. They might be using Instagram to keep up brand awareness amongst that set of their customers who have Instagram accounts themselves.
What would you be doing if there was no Instagram? Do you have customers? Do you have clients? Use this chain of logic, follow it along and fit it with your specific use-case.
Post consistently. Your audience / followers will begin to expect it. When you then post extra because there’s something new, exciting and special taking place, they will KNOW it.
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