Effective Instagramming is, first and foremost, about quality. Good composition, interesting angles, worthy subjects and even a bit of humor come into play. As always on social networks, though, when you post is nearly as important as what you post.
Why does timing matter? Everyday Instagrammers love the dopamine rush that comes with the notification of new likes or followers. We all want our photos to be seen and appreciated, or else we wouldn't be publishing them. For marketers flocking to Instagram in search of the next social marketing platform, these details are even more critical. Marketers have to maximize their reach without offending the sensibilities of the actual people on the network, who are easily turned off by spammy tactics.
Don't be a Firehose
For the casual Instagrammer, few things are more annoying than having to scroll through a series of sequentially shot, similar-looking photos. It's a bit like when somebody spews a series of tweets in rapid succession, but as square images on a mobile screen, Instagram photos are more laborious to scroll through.
Even if a series of images are not visually similar, it's best to space them out. For other social networks, third party apps like HootSuite and Buffer let you schedule updates over time. But even though Instagram is available as an add-on for HootSuite, it doesn't let users auto-schedule posts. That must be done manually within Instagram.
Best Days and Times
The ideal time to post a photo to Instagram varies from users to user. It depends somewhat on what time zone the bulk of followers reside in, among other factors. The Instagram analytics service Statigram helps users get a clearer picture of what works. The service's Optimization tab features a few helpful visualizations, one of which shows a breakdown of how one's posting habits are spread throughout the week. It then suggests more optimal posting times based on when one's photos are getting the strongest response.
In the chart above, which is specific to my personal account, you can see that I tend to post photos in the evenings and on weekends. This isn't bad, but Statigram's data suggest that I might want to post more photos during the week and that perhaps my midnight drunkstagrams would best be saved for the next morning.
While these results may vary from person to person, it's probably safe to assume that posting very late at night will get less of a reaction from other users.