When is the Best Time to Post on Social Media?

Last week, I was conducting a social media training session and was asked a question that I regularly receive – “when is the best time to post on social media?”

I told him exactly what I’ve told plenty of others:

There is not a universally perfect time to post on social media. Instead, do what works best for you. (Click here to tweet that)

Yes, there are plenty of studies that tell you the best time to post on each social network. Depending on which ones you read, you’ll get different advice.

Some studies say that afternoons during the week get the best click-through rate. Other reports suggest that sharing on Saturdays is best.

While there might be data to back up each of these suggested times, these studies look at all social media activity in the aggregate. In other words, they look at all social media activity happening online and suggest the best times based on sheer volume – not based on business versus personal sharing or what works best for certain demographics.

For instance, studies might suggest that you should avoid posting in the evenings. But, if you’re a company that targets moms, you might find that they hop onto Facebook later in the evening after the kids are in bed.

That’s why it’s more important to discover the best times that work for your business, your goals and your audience instead of leaning too heavily on these study results.

How to determine the best time to post on social media

So, how do you determine what works best for your business?

If you want to be successful with social media, you must experiment and test different posting times and then pay attention to analytics to determine what’s getting results.

If you’re not sure how to do that, here are some tools to help you determine the best times to post on social media.

1. Use built-in analytics.

Some of the social networks have built-in analytics that allow you to track how posts perform. These tools can help you determine which posts receive more engagement and sharing.

Facebook Insights

Facebook has always given you the ability to see the reach and engagement for each individual post. But, the new Facebook insights go a step further to show how many fans saw posts on a given day of the week and the average number of fans who saw your post in an hour.

For instance, here’s what it looks like for my Facebook page.

Facebook fan activity

These numbers only reflect the past seven days, but you’ll see that Mondays, Tuesdays and Fridays have the most fans online and 9 a.m., 1 p.m. and 8 p.m. are when the most people see my posts. This completely breaks against what different studies will tell you. That’s why it’s important to see what’s working for you.

The new Facebook Insights offer a lot of other great data as well. If you need help understanding it, here’s a great tutorial to help you.

Twitter Analytics

Before this summer, Twitter had only made analytics available to advertisers. But now, it’s available to everyone for free.

To get access to the data, you have to sign into the Twitter ads dashboard (even if you don’t use Twitter ads). Once you’re logged in, you can see your recent tweets and the number clicks, retweets, favorites and replies for each. You can also sort your tweets by the ones that performed best, which can help you determine the content and times that resonate most.

For example, here’s what mine looks like:

Twitter timeline analytics

If you need help with this, here’s a step-by-step guide to show you how to use Twitter analytics.

Pinterest Analytics

If you have a Pinterest account for your business, you get some built-in analytics functions that help you determine the best times to pin items. Their analytics show your content’s reach on a given day and the traffic that’s being driven to your website. This information can help you determine when your posts are getting the most traction.

If you need help with this, check out this great overview of Pinterest analytics.

LinkedIn Analytics

LinkedIn recently launched new analytics for company pages, which offers up additional insight into how people are interacting with your content. Now, you can see the number of impressions, clicks and interactions for each post. Although this doesn’t tell you much about the time of day you share information, this can help you determine the days and types of content that get the most interest.

2. Social Media Management Tools.

In addition to monitoring and scheduling your social media posts, third-party social media management tools can also help you analyze your social media efforts.

For instance, Hootsuite and SproutSocial are two popular tools that offer reports and analytics for your posts. Hootsuite comes with link reporting for it’s free tool, but more robust reports are available for purchase. SproutSocial has in-depth analytics built in with it’s monthly pricing.

Or, if you use Buffer to post messages to your social media accounts, you can see the reach for each post, along with number of clicks, retweets, mentions and favorites all in one place.

There are a number of options out there depending on your needs and budget. To help you wade through the options, here’s a great run-down of popular social media management tools for small business.

3. Link Shorteners

Even if you don’t you social media management tools, you can use link shorteners to help you determine which posts get the most clicks.

For instance, Bitly, offers a stats dashboard that shows you the number of clicks on each of your most recent posts.  Hootsuite’s link shortener, Ow.ly, also offers this functionality.

4. Other Analytical Tools.

In addition to all of the other tools mentioned, there are a number of other third-party tools that can help you analyze your social media efforts.

Tweriod is a free tool that allows you to sign in with your twitter account and it will show you when most of your followers are online by the hour. You can get numbers for weekends and weekdays. You can also discover which days and times you are most likely to get “@ replies”, which can help you determine when your content is being shared or the best times for engagement.

Followerwonk also offers the most active hours for a given Twitter account,  but goes even further to show demographic information about your followers, such as location, age, gender and even how people use twitter (mentions, links, RTs, etc.).  Followerwonk also allows you to analyze Twitter accounts other than your own, which can be great for competitive insight or for new users who don’t have a lot of data yet.

Besides being free, you can use both of these tools with Buffer to schedule your social media posts on Twitter.

There are likely dozens more apps, tools and tricks to measure your social media activity, but this should give you a good place to start determining what works best for your business and your audience.

Do you have any tools that you would add to the list? What questions do you have?

Image credit: ToniVC

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  • http://uncommonlysocial.com/ Sarah Mason

    This is great, Laura, and pairs nicely with the article I recently wrote on the topic. :) I’ve had some follow up questions from my audience on specific tactics to use to measure online performance so I’ll be passing this along (and bookmarking it) as a great reference.

    Union Metrics (the company behind Tweetreach) is rolling out their free analytics tool for Tumblr now so that’d be a good one to add to the list.

    • http://www.flybluekite.com/ Laura Click

      Thanks, Sarah! I’ll have to go check out your article on the topic as well. I’ve not heard of Union Metrics, but thanks for mentioning them. That could be because I haven’t really used Tumblr at all, but I’m sure that’s valuable for folks who do!

      • http://uncommonlysocial.com/ Sarah Mason

        To be fair, my article was more big-picture strategy on experimenting to find what works for individual businesses in online marketing. I like the way you broke down the specific tools available.

  • http://unionmetrics.com/ Sarah

    Thanks for the Union Metrics mention, Sarah! We’ve also done a little research on the best times to post to Tumblr, but completely agree that it varies with every business and you should pay attention to which of your posts perform the best to gauge the best times for you to post: http://unionmetrics.tumblr.com/post/55614818502/whens-the-best-time-to-post-to-tumblr-weve

    -Sarah of Union Metrics, Fine Makers of TweetReach + Union Metrics for Tumblr

    • http://www.flybluekite.com/ Laura Click

      Thanks for stopping by, Sarah! I appreciate it. I’ve not heard of Union Metrics before, but it sounds like a great tool for Tumblr users. That infographic is interesting – I’m surprised to see that so much of your activity happens at night. Any ideas why that might be? Just curious.

      • http://unionmetrics.com/ Sarah

        Of course, Laura! We have a couple of different ideas about why Tumblr is so nocturnal: a lot of international activity, and the fact that a lot of people use Tumblr as a creative outlet (for writing, sharing art etc) so they’re working on projects outside of regular US business hours.

        • http://www.flybluekite.com/ Laura Click

          I wondered if that might be the case, but I wasn’t sure. Thanks for sharing your insight. Very interesting!

      • http://uncommonlysocial.com/ Sarah Mason

        That’s great insight, Sarah. I wonder, too, if it has to do with Tumblr’s demographic skewing so young. I’ve seen my posts consistently do best after 10pm. When I was a teenager, I stayed up late and hid under the covers with a flashlight reading and writing in my journal. Teens are still doing that, just on their devices, right?

        • http://unionmetrics.com/ Sarah

          Haha it seems like it! I used to stay up all night on LiveJournal when I was in high school. It seems like the Kids Today are keeping the tradition alive : )

  • http://www.blognetworking101.com/ Jeevan Jacob John

    Didn’t know about many of these. I mostly use Bufferapp and Hootsuite for my Twitter needs. I will give the others a try.

    Thanks for sharing the tools, Laura. I just got back to blogging after a long break. And, right now, I am spending all my time with commenting and networking. These tools will surely help out with my social media sites!

    Hope you are doing well :) Good to see that you are still active in blogosphere :D

    • http://www.flybluekite.com/ Laura Click

      Hi Jeevan – Good to see you here again! Thanks for stopping by.

      If you’re already using Buffer, you’ll really like how Tweriod and Followerwonk integrate nicely with it. Best of luck with your blogging efforts!

  • Pingback: Three Big Reasons Why Times’ Tweetable Highlights are Superior to ClickToTweet | Socially Minded Marketing

  • http://www.ltc-associates.com/ LTCA INC

    Hi Laura,

    I’ve used Tweriod for a long time! I keep little post-its taped on my printer right where I can see them so I always remember when my followers are online. Every 6 months or so I re-run this report.

    On a similar note, I keep another two post-its right beside the first ones:

    1 – 2 hashtags = 21% > engagement
    3+ hashtags = 17% < engagement

    and…

    engagement

    Does this work? Well, I’m nowhere near the social media maven you are, but one day maybe : )

    • http://www.flybluekite.com/ Laura Click

      Hi Stephen – Isn’t Tweriod great? A nifty little tool – especially if you combine it with Buffer.

      Interesting thoughts on the hashtags. I think too many in a tweet can be way too much. Are those numbers yours or for someone else?

      • http://www.ltc-associates.com/ LTCA INC

        I forget where I picked up the hashtag “rule” (I put in “airquotes” since someone will probably turn it on its head before long). But I do think it was from someone reputable, like Pam Dyer. Ever since, I’ve held fast and firm to the 1 – 2 hashtag formula, no more no less.

        I did have a question for you about the Facebook Insights screenshot you posted. Facebook titles the charts, “Average number of your fans who saw ANY posts on Facebook…”

        But you wrote, “Mondays, Tuesdays and Fridays…are when most people see MY posts.” These are 2 very different assertions.

        Shouldn’t FB title their chart “Average number of your fans who saw YOUR posts on Facebook…”, or is that not what Insights is telling us? Hmm…

        • http://www.flybluekite.com/ Laura Click

          Ah! Good catch! I need to fix that – I must have misunderstood. It appears that the chart shows when your fans are online – not necessarily when they see your posts. So, to correct that, it should be that those days are when most of my fans are online. Thanks for catching that!

          • http://www.ltc-associates.com/ LTCA INC

            Sometimes I think I’ve been put on this Earth solely to rain on parades. I take no joy in this : (

          • http://www.flybluekite.com/ Laura Click

            You’re not raining on my parade. I just misunderstood something and you corrected me. I appreciate it!