The science of how often to post on social media
Posting more often boosts engagement - up to a point. If you go over 45 posts per month people get tired of you.
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How often should you post on social media?
Posting more often increases your views, engagement, and how often you show up on your audience’s feed - so you remind people of your existence and stay top of mind.
It’s also a numbers game that increases the chances of finding a post that your audience loves.
But how much is too much? Is there a point at which posting too much starts to backfire?
That’s what scientists set out to investigate.
Here’s what they found. And why.
P.S.: There is a similar effect when it comes to number of followers. More isn’t always better, there comes a point at which too many followers make influencers less effective.
45 social media posts per month are optimal for maximum engagement
Channels: Social media | Influencer marketing | Content
For: Both B2C and B2B
Research date: April 2023
To maximize engagement on social media (e.g. likes, comments), post content frequently - but up to a limit.
On Instagram, the optimal frequency is 44-45 posts per month.
You can further maximize engagement by sharing content from less popular creators, and those who follow relatively fewer accounts.
Content engagement on social media has an inverted U-shape relationship with content frequency. Not posting frequently enough leads to lower engagement, as does posting too often.
In an analysis of 460 content creators on Instagram, researchers found that:
How often content is posted by creators can increase or decrease likes and comments by up to 24%
Both likes and comments increased the more the creator posted on Instagram, up to 45 posts a month
More than 45 posts per month led to a decline in user likes and comments
The effect varies depending on the size and strength of followers, and competition in the topic.
🧠 Why it works
How often we see a brand or creator affects how we respond to them.
Low to medium exposure to their ads or social media posts creates a gradual wear-in process, as we familiarize ourselves with them.
But seeing their content too often bores us and makes us tired of their message, leading to a negative response.
We also feel that creators who post too often are inauthentic, overly driven by money, and their posts seem monotonous and opportunistic.
So some frequency is necessary to familiarize ourselves with a brand or creator, but too much backfires.
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The analysis focused on Instagram content and creators. While too much content from one particular creator or brand will have a negative effect on any social media platform, the optimal amount of content will vary for each platform (e.g. TikTok, YouTube).
The data analyzed was from 2018 to 2020. Since then, Instagram’s algorithm may have changed, favoring more or less frequency.
The study did not differentiate between organic and sponsored content. It’s likely that different frequencies of each type of content strongly impact the ideal total frequency.
It’s unclear from this study whether Instagram’s algorithm punishes excessive posting frequency, for example by reducing their reach - and when this kicks in. The main effect seems to be driven by people becoming weary of seeing content from the same accounts too often.
🏢 Companies using this
While many content creators are close to this optimal posting frequency, others post significantly more often, and some much less.
Most successful influencers seem to regularly test different posting frequencies, seemingly to find the right balance.
However, several influencers don’t seem to follow this guideline. For example:
⚡ Steps to implement
Post 44-45 Instagram posts per month for the best user engagement (likes and comments).
A large part, if not most, of your audience will not see all of your posts. So you can experiment with reusing previous posts to make it easier to post frequently.
If you want to post more frequently, try to vary the format and topics of your content, it might reduce the negative effect of posting too frequently.
When you work with influencers for your campaigns, make sure to encourage them to post with the optimal frequency.
🔍 Study type
Market observation (analysis of the 460 most popular Instagram creators in Indonesia, 2018-2020).
Content creators’ participation in the creator economy: Examining the effect of creators’ content sharing frequency on user engagement behavior on digital platforms. Journal of Retailing and Consumer Services (April 2023)
Wondwesen Tafesse. College of Business and Economics, United Arab Emirates University
Mumin Dayan. College of Business and Economics, United Arab Emirates University
Remember: This is a new scientific discovery. In the future it will probably be better understood and could even be proven wrong (that’s how science works). It may also not be generalizable to your situation. If it’s a risky change, always test it on a small scale before rolling it out widely.
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