The Best [And Worst] Times To Post On Social Media

best times to post on social mediaIt’s the conundrum of social media marketers everywhere: you’ve got great content to share on your social networks, but if no one sees it, does it do any good? And that’s why discovering the best (and worst) times to post on your social media sites is a critical part of your overall digital marketing success.

When it comes to discovering the optimal posting time on a social media platform, you generally have three options: trial and error, data analysis or implementing others’ research. Let’s dive in and take a quick look at each—then you can be the judge about what works best for you.

Trial And Error (and A/B Testing)

Experimentation and testing is not only fun, it’s imperative. And we’re believers in the adage that if you’re not measuring (and testing), well, you’re not marketing. We’re huge fans of A/B testing all kinds of content we produce for ourselves and for our clients. We test tweets, blog post headlines, email subject lines–you name it, we test it. We also test how content posted at one time of day performs against how the exact piece of content performs at a different time that same day, or on another day completely.

If you’re not yet testing how your content performs, start. Make sure you are tracking what’s working (and what’s not) so that you can use those findings to guide your strategy.

Data Analysis

Let your data be your road map. Social platforms and a wide variety of tools you could use provide lots of data you can tap into to judge the efficacy of your posts, their collective reach, how your audience responds to them and whether or not they are driving the desired action (and hopefully there is one). Look at your Google Analytics regularly, especially the social analytics component of GA. We wrote a comprehensive post on how awesome those are, back when Google launched Social Reports as an addition to Google Analytics and we use it all the time. I’ll link the post at the bottom of this page for you to reference if you’re not yet familiar with and using Social Reports.

Check your Facebook page insights regularly and do monthly reporting so you can have a look at month-over-month performance (which is sometimes annoyingly difficult to do on Facebook), look at your LinkedIn Company Page Insights and look at your link performance analytics for Twitter in a dashboard like Hootsuite. That way, you’ll use data that pertains to your specific audience, the preferences of which may sometimes differ from generalized research on tactics like the best and worst times to post. Past data reports, for example, indicate that Facebook posts are largely ineffective at night and on weekends. Yet your audience may prefer posts during that time, which is why it’s so important to gather and analyze your own data.

Third-Party Data

While we can’t over-emphasize the importance of collecting and analyzing and using your own data, it’s sometimes helpful to turn to third-party data as a starting point. Take, for example, an infographic from Social Caffeine that discusses the best and worst times to post to social networks. Here are a few of their findings:

  • Facebook posts do the best between 1 and 4 p.m. and the worst from 8 p.m. to 8 a.m. and on weekends.
  • Tweets are most likely seen between 1 and 3 p.m. Traffic tends to diminish after 3 p.m. Social Caffeine recommends not tweeting after 3 p.m. on Fridays.
  • LinkedIn posts tend to do well between 7 and 9 a.m. and 5 and 6 p.m. Overnight posts between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. don’t drive much traffic.
  • The golden hours on Google+ are 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. Traffic starts to fade after 5 p.m., making 6 p.m. to 8 a.m. the worst times to post.

best times to post on social media

And I’d be remiss not to mention that there a multitude of sources out there, all giving different advice (based on their own findings) about best and worst times to post. Make sure you understand that what’s best is what you test and discover what works for you and your audience—there’s no one universal right answer. No matter what the experts say.

I participated in a discussion in a LinkedIn group where people were talking about whether or not members duplicated content shared on Twitter. Almost to a person, the group indicated they never replicated content and, in fact, they thought it was spammy to do so. I wholeheartedly disagreed, because it’s impossible for most people on any given day to see all of the content shared online. So to share content (which is often a marketing message of some sort) only once – on any social network, and expect it to have an impact and drive action is, well, somewhat naïve.

So, knowing what your audience likes, when they like it, testing your messaging (both the construction and wording of your messages and the timing of when they are shared) is truly the path to any kind of successful return on what you’re doing for and with your brand in social media channels. And the audiences across channels all have different preferences and keeping that in mind as it relates to your brand is important.

What do you think? When it comes to determining the best and worst times to post on social networks, what sort of information sources do you use? And if you’ve analyzed your own data, do you find your audience’s preferences tend to contradict the generalized findings of third-party data?

Posts On This Topic You Might Like:

From Digital Trends: The When and the Where of Expert Updating

From V3: Measure Social ROI With Google Analytics Social

From Inkling Media: Positioning Your Blog Content to Get it Read and Shared

Image: susivinh via Compfight cc

  • http://www.magnetsocialmedia.com/social-media-blog.html Karen Moran

    While I can appreciate general times to post – Facebook in particular is the exact opposite for pretty much every one of my clients… Facebook posts do the best between 1 and 4 p.m. and the worst from 8 p.m. to 8 a.m. and on weekends. Early Saturday AM and Early Sunday PM kill it for them. 7-8 AM during the week is most ideal for mine. Posts during the day fall on deaf ears and post concert posts at 11PM of the event kill it for a music venue client. Every community is different and it’s important to stay in touch with yours.

  • ShellyKramer

    That’s exactly what I wanted to hear! Thanks Karen.

  • Ted Rubin

    Great post Shelly, and something so very important and very often overlooked. Even for those without access or time to acquire the data, trial and error is so easy.

  • ShellyKramer

    Thanks Ted … test, test, and test some more is pretty much my mantra! Thanks for coming by, my friend. Hope all is well in your world.

  • Caron White

    Quick comment on the duplicate posting – also important to remember that it truly is not spammy because you have different groups of customers and contacts on each social network. It is essential for time constraints (we are running a business) to use those tools such as hootesuite to reach all of the audiences. We use different social media for different reasons and different messages, and it’s always an experiment to see where we are reaching the right targets. Great chart!

  • Ted Rubin

    Yes, yes, yes :-)

    All good, hope for you too. Look forward to seeing you f2f sometime soon :-)

  • ShellyKramer

    I think you have to be very careful with duplicate posting, Caron. I think that respecting the individual nature of each of your communities is important, so I rarely use tools to cross post. And based on the size of the communities I’ve built, it seems to work – that being authentically there. But most importantly, it’s whatever works for you!

  • Grace Keh

    This really changes based on where the majority of your fans live + content topic + and average age. For instance, I manage a page w 4 million + likes that has a significant bulk of people from Chile (!?) where it is 3-5 hours ahead of PST. If I post at 2am PST — it does better than some 10am PST posts. Or another page where the age group is younger and 9am means school rather than work (where one would imagine it’s easier to access social, but I may be dating myself here).

    But for my personal accounts, I find the general suggestions recommended here to be quite accurate! For example, I can take one article I’ve written and post the photo on Instagram at 6am….then will tweet the link at 8:30am…and share it on my brand page at 11am, then share that post to my personal page at 2pm — and perhaps skip posting on LinkedIn altogether, depending on the topic. In the end, though, it ultimately gets down to value of the content (and title), your commentary accompanying the share, and which social channel that determines how much engagement you get, regardless of time posted.

    Thanks for posting this!

  • ShellyKramer

    Love this information, Grace … that’s awesome. And a great example of how to maximize your impact!! Thanks for popping in :)

  • Jonathan Mast

    Agree Shelly. I post the same content more than once on the same channels especially for content we have invested a great deal of time and money into developing. I get paid to be on social media channels and I can’t read or cover everything. I want to be sure the right eyes get a chance to see our content.

  • ShellyKramer

    Same here, Jonathan. I find a huge mistake that people make is thinking that if they post something once, it’ll be seen. That’s not how it works!!!

  • http://websoulsurfer.com websoulsurfer

    Shelly,

    Just a few thoughts.

    What do they mean by best? Do they mean retweets, mentions or click throughs to the company website? Do they mean the best for conversions to customers? What is definition of best?

    All social media is global, so doesn’t what you are saying really mean there is no real best time?

    Now if you are a local restaurant then maybe it matters, but if you are a marketing company (or a sports scouting firm) that has customers around the world, does time really matter or is that by time zone?

    Most of my posts are sports related and I get the best response in terms of overall engagement by the time zone of the game featuring the sports teams I am posting about.

    So a Yankees related post I would get the best response from 7pm to 11 pm eastern for most posts.

    For a Padres or Dodgers related post I get the most engagement from 10pm to 1 am eastern. Or 7pm to 11pm pacific.

    Even during the baseball off season, that is the best period for engagement on social media.

    The point I am trying to make is its ALL contextual. TEST TEST and then TEST some more.

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  • Shelly Kramer

    I absolutely agree. And that’s what we do – test, test and test some more. But sometimes, when it comes to testing, you’ve got to have somewhere to start. And I think this basic chart (of which there are many different iterations) is at least a place to start – especially for someone who’s not as familiar with the concept of constant testing, tweaking, measuring, etc., that we might be.

  • http://www.suzieqsolutions.com/ Suzanne Jones

    This is just what I was looking for now. I have not done my own official research on my posts but have been ‘noticing’ many similarities in my findings and your chart. I had originally been told in the past after 3 on FB. Didn’t work for me. So, are you saying, (assuming your graph is suitable for me) it is NOT necessary to post on the weekends??
    Thanks for this :)

  • http://www.socialidentities.com Hugh Briss

    I probably missed it but where did you indicate what time zone these results were for. Obviously 1pm to 4pm for me in Florida is 10am to 1pm for people in California. If they post at 4pm it’s 7pm on the east coast and I doubt that’s a good time for them.

  • ShellyKramer

    I think all times like this are usually EST … but I’ll check on that to be sure.

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  • Shyam Madhavan Sarada

    PLUS, it is very US-centric. Social media is a little bigger than that. You’re absolutely right about the misleading part, especially for the ‘followers’ :-)

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