Let’s face it – one of the most difficult things within a sponsored social media campaign is figuring out the optimal time to share your content throughout the day. There are so many variables to consider, from campaign goals (clicks, shares, purchases) to audience factors (time zones, when people are working, when people are engaging) that it can at times feel like a better solution would be to throw a dart at a clock and see where it sticks.

At Markerly we don’t rely on guesswork and carnival games, so we did what we do best – crunched some data. We analyzed approximately 170,000 sponsored posts on Instagram and dug into the numbers to discover the secret sauce when it comes to sponsored content engagement. The results were pretty fascinating, and provide a solid roadmap for garnering optimal engagement for your sponsored posts.

Mornings matter. The data showed that the optimal time to share sponsored content in order to achieve maximum engagement is between 8am and 1pm CT. In fact, sponsored posts shared within this time frame gained up to 50% higher engagement than posts shared within the remaining hours of the day.

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One interesting thing to note about these data results is that the engagement rate does not align with the number of shares – in fact, it’s an inverse relationship. The 8am-1pm CT time frame has six of the seven lowest post totals of the day, yet the engagement is the highest. Likewise, the time periods with the highest post totals actually receive the lowest engagement rates.

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All days created equal. Is Saturday the best day to share because it’s on the weekend? Or what about Monday as people are trying to shake off the weekend funk and procrastinate from work? As you can see below, there actually is not a day of the week that provides a major advantage over the others in terms of engagement.

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Tuesday had the highest engagement rate of the entire week, but it also came in with the lowest amount of shared posts. Sunday and Saturday were the next two best engagement days, but barely ahead of Friday and Monday respectively. Only Thursday seemed to noticeably lack behind the others. What can we glean from this? We are all creatures of habit, and it doesn’t much matter whether we are at work on a Tuesday, at a bar on a Friday, or heading to church on a Sunday – we’re going to be on social media every day of the week.

Engage early. Our data clearly shows it pays to post your content earlier in the morning when there are less posts to compete with and more engagement coming from consumers. Doing so consistently throughout the week will allow you to develop a routine with your audience, so they begin to expect and seek out your posts rather than come across them casually.