When starting out, or choosing to grow your followers, one of the biggest questions a fledgling influencer needs to ask themselves is how often should I be posting?

Striking the perfect balance between exposure, frequency, and your personal brand, can be as difficult as finding the perfect pair of jeans.

Ultimately we all know the aim is to grow the total number of Instagram followers you have, and to keep them.

At the same time though, you need to ensure the followers you do have keep their engagement up by leaving likes and comments on your posts.

So how can you achieve this without alienating either group?

Be consistent

As counterintuitive as the idea may seem, studies have shown that it actually doesn’t matter how often you post.

What does matter is how consistent you are with how often you post.

According to one study done by Unionmetrics you could post as many as twenty times a day, and this shouldn’t put people off.

What does affect your followers though? Doing this for while to gain new followers, then tapering out and only posting once a week.

In a sea of competitors the key to consistent and sustained follower growth is maintaining your post frequency.

Figure out how many posts you can do a week

While there isn’t any actual evidence to support it – an unspoken rule of Instagram is that unless you’re a big brand, or a celebrity, you really don’t need to be posting an average of more than 1.5 times a day.

We all know there can be too much of a good thing, so while posting every couple of hours can be tempting when you’re trying to reach as many new people as possible, you don’t want to put off any of your current followers by spamming their feeds.

More importantly, as consistency is king, for most people producing enough content to do ten posts a day simply isn’t possible.

When choosing how you want to run your Instagram and how to best get new followers, you need to boil down how many posts you can realistically do each week.

Take a look at your schedule, plan out your posts for a few weeks, and then make sure you always hit your deadlines.

If you’re just starting out you will have a little bit of wiggle-room timewise to test out what works best for you, but try falling into a consistent posting pattern as quickly as you can.

Remember – you’ll need to stick to this plan despite whatever else may be happening in your life once you commit to it, even when you’d rather be lying on your couch in your pyjamas.

Otherwise the evidence shows you’ll lose those hard earned followers.

Make sure when you do post, you are doing it at the best time

Once you’ve figured out the guideline for how often you will post, you should also consider what time you’re going to do it.

Unlike other social media Instragram is the ‘wild west’, and due to its global reach different timezones can affect who you’re going to reach and when.

Before you can do anything else you need to identify what timezone it is you want to target, so you can tailor your posts to their sleep schedules.

Once you’ve done that you want to ensure you reach the broadest range of people, within your target audience, and the actual time to do this may surprise you.

Posts made between 2am and 5am end up receiving the highest engagement.

The bulk of Instagram’s user base is aged 18 – 34, and by posting during this time you’re most likely to reach them.

A lot of them may still be awake during these hours, but more importantly your photos will be seen when a user first wakes up.

From partier to parent this block of time will give your post the largest reach possible.