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