Posts on social networks don’t live long, so it is important to publish them when your target audience will see them. Knowing when to post on social media is essential. However, what many people don’t know is how to pinpoint the best times to post on social media for their own business or brand. This brings us to the all-important question: what do I have to do to discover when is the best time to post on social media?
As research shows, there is no one-size-fits-all answer because the ideal posting times differ across various platforms and depend on several factors, including your industry, target demographic, and the timezone(s) your followers live in. Due to all these factors, which are specific for each company or individual, how do you find the best days and times to post on social media for your profiles? In this article, we will show you how to find out for yourself.
What are the Best Times to Post on Social Media: Should you Rely on Common Wisdom or Data?
So, when is a good time to post on social media for you? The answer depends on what the data tells you.
A social media tool is essential for determining the best items to post due to its ability to analyze large data sets. With advanced analytical functions, a social media tool can help you find out when your target audience is most active and when post interactions are the highest. It can also help you collect and analyze key historical data points that allow you to determine what are the best times to post on social media across channels.
However, let’s first address the idea that there are general best practices and “rules of thumb” to follow when determining when the best times to post on social media are. Some may think that the best times to post on each social media platform can be determined by the nature of the platform. For instance, LInkedIn is used extensively in the business world, so common wisdom tells you that you should post during business hours. Instagram and Twitter may be used extensively during lunch breaks or later in the afternoon when people may be looking for a quick distraction. You may think that Facebook users tend to be more active around the evening hours to scroll through their Feeds.
In some situations, this common wisdom may be true. However, we live in a world in which determining the best times to post on social media for business or an individual often comes down to knowing the behavior and habits of your target audience. This is where social media analytics tools come into play.
As part of this, analyzing your past posts’ performance can be a valuable practice in discovering when to post on social media for your business or brand. Once you have this information, you can devise a data-backed posting strategy to increase, for instance, your post interaction rate.
Steps to Finding the Best Times of Day to Post on Social Media
Determining the best times of day to post on social media is crucial for social media strategies, but it’s not always simple. Below, we break down the process of how you can find the best times to post on social media in three easy steps. For our purposes here, we will assume that our goal will be to find the best times to post to have a high post interaction rate.
Step 1: Determine the size of your data set and what profiles you will include in it
The main issue here is picking the social media profiles of similar companies, brands, or individuals to gain insights into what is working, and what is not. Generally, the more data points you have, the better. However, this comes with a few caveats.
First, you should make sure that the profiles and channels you are adding to your data set are relevant for you. For instance, you should not include businesses or profiles that are not comparable to your own. The main goal here is to add other profiles to your data set that have similar target audiences for you to zero in on shared audiences that gives us a better data set.
Second, it is generally helpful to group together profiles that operate in similar timezones or countries to get better insights on what times of the day it is best to post. If you have companies that act in different timezones in your data set, this may skew your data.
Step 2: Choose which platforms you want to include in your data set
As a business, you are likely to have accounts on multiple social media platforms, and the best times to post on each social media platform may differ between platforms. For example, what works for Facebook might not necessarily work for Instagram or LinkedIn. However, many businesses may also want an overall understanding of when the best times to post are since they may be posting similar content across profiles which will most likely be posted at the same time.
As we will detail shortly, it is advisable to have a social media tool that allows you to track unlimited profiles and create different dashboards. This is because you then can analyze different profiles as well as how those profiles perform across different channels simultaneously. In this way, you can create an infographic that shows the best time to post across channels, as well as only on one channel.
Lastly, you generally should include only channels for which you have an account, rather than collect data from all types of social media channels. For instance, your company may not have a TikTok account, so it may not make much sense to include data from your competitors’ TikTok accounts in your data set.
Step 3: Use a social media analysis tool to create an infographic showing what time posts are made while showing the interaction rates for those posts
Utilizing tools and studying your own audience behavior will provide accurate and illustrative insights that can help you find out when is the best time to post. After going through the first two steps we detailed above, you should have a pretty good idea of what profiles you want to track, as well as what the channels are that you would like to focus on. Again, it is generally helpful to look at different data sets, whether it is cross-channel or simply one specific channel.
Below is an example of such a chart that was created using the all-in-one social media tool Fanpage Karma. For this example, we have compiled data from the last 28 days from four major European sport and leisure brands: Adidas, Puma, Lacoste, and Umbro. For the purposes here, we have collected data from four channels: Twitter, Facebook, TikTok, and Instagram.
After we select the relevant brands and the channels we are most interested in, we will use the Fanpage Karma social media tool to generate the infographic below showing at what days and times followers of those leisure brands are most active and most likely to interact with the posts. It also shows the number of posts during a particular day or time of day.
This graphic displays circles of different size and color. The bigger the circle, the higher the number of posts. The greener the circle, the more interactions per fan on posts at that time. Of course, within the tool you can choose different timeframes (i.e. the last week, the last 3 months, etc.) and add channels or brands we would like to include in your analysis.
As you can see just from this chart, there are useful insights about what times of day most posts take place, as well as the times of day when the most post interaction takes place. For instance, there are not very many posts at 6 p.m. on Fridays, but the post interaction rate is high. Conversely, Tuesdays and Thursdays appear to have relatively low post interaction rates throughout the day. Using this data, you may consider posting at times that may have high interaction rates but not so many posts.
When to post on Social Media for a Particular Business: An Illustrative Example
Determining when to post on social media for business is an ongoing process that requires some real thought. With this in mind, it may be helpful to provide an illustrative example of how to find the best time to post in a specific industry. For the sake of argument, let’s pretend that we are the social media lead for US retailer Target. In our benchmarking analysis, we want to include some other major US competitors (in this case Cosco, Walmart, Best Buy and Kroger) to get a good idea of when it may be a good time and day to post.
In our example, we will focus on four social media channels, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and TikTok, when it comes to posting and reaching our target audience. Now that we have broadly determined our data set and channels we are interested in, we can run an analysis with our Fanpage Karma social media tool.
To begin our analysis, we have adjusted our output to only show Target’s performance across the four channels mentioned above regarding interaction rates. As is the case with the example in the last section, the bigger the circle, the more that was posted at that time. The greener the circle, the higher the interaction rate of the posts during those times. Also note that we have collected data from a 28-day timespan.
At a glance, the results show us that we are mostly posting in the later afternoons, which receive relatively low post interaction rates. Conversely, we see that at 2 p.m. on Thursdays and 10 a.m. on Fridays, there are a relatively low number of posts but higher interaction rates as shown by the greener colors. The point here is that an analysis such as this one can quickly provide important insights about your social media activities while giving you ideas about what can be changed in terms of posting time strategy.
Of course, there are different ways of looking at all the data we have at our disposal. In fact, social media tools such as Fanpage Karma give you almost unlimited ways to analyze and view data, but we are keeping it relatively simple here.
But let’s now say we are interested in finding the best time to posts for major retailers in the US in general. For this analysis, we simply add some of Target’s competitors: Cosco, Walmart, Best Buy and Kroger. The output below gives us a more comprehensive data set to work with and broadens our insights.
The social media team from Target can now see that times between 12-2 p.m. during the week generally seem to be good times to post for US retailers. Additionally, Thursday and Friday evenings show promise along with some other time slots. However, all of this must be considered carefully as there are many factors that go into an overall social media posting strategy that this analysis plays only a part of.
To complete our example, let’s look at what data output might look like if we are looking at just one channel, in this case Instagram. In this made-up scenario, we will say that since we post unique content exclusive only to Instagram, that finding out generally what times are good to post across channels is not relevant to us. Again, this takes only a quick adjustment in the Fanpage Karma tool.
As we see from this graph, late afternoons on Mondays, Thursdays, and Fridays look promising. Unlike a data set that includes different channels, there is no data to analyze for times before 10 a.m. or after 8 p.m. While the data set is admittedly smaller, it is more specific for a particular channel, which can provide important insights for crafting your social media strategy.
Takeaways for Determining the Best Times to Post on Social Media
The point of this exercise is not to tell you what the best times to post on social media are, but rather to show you how to find them. Companies working in different industries, in various parts of the world, and with different goals require unique insights to help them with their social media strategy.
In demonstrating how to find the best times to post, we have provided a useful quantitative approach, as seen above. However, there are also qualitative elements involved, especially related to producing the content and posts your audience is looking for. Social media managers should use this approach as one of several different data points in devising a comprehensive social media strategy.
It will be worth your while to check regularly at what times posts are most successful as markets, competition, and the behavior of the users are constantly changing. You can easily see this by changing the time period of your analysis. If you choose a rather long time period, you can assess longer-term trends. Choose a short time frame, and you can see that the values strongly depend on the circumstances at that specific time. This can be an insightful way of analyzing how the activity of the users changed as a result of campaigns.
As a final point, showing a “when to post on social media” infographic for presentations can act as a powerful visual tool to explain/justify to your team or your clients why you may be posting at a particular time. The graphics shown above provide an accessible and persuasive visual aid for social media managers presenting their ideas and strategy. These visual aids can help impress stakeholders in your company.
Important Things to Keep in Mind When Finding the Best Time to Post
Determining when is the best time to post on social media is not a static question, and there are some things to always keep in mind. Below are some of the important points to consider when researching the best times to post on social media.
Have an International Outlook
Always be aware of the time zones that the companies you are analyzing are in. You may get misleading results if you are comparing companies in different timezones. For instance, a company in the US may think they should be posting at 4 a.m. if they are including a number of businesses based in Japan during their analysis.
To avoid this pitfall, it is advisable to create separate charts for the different time zones to avoid getting your posting time wrong. For example, if your company is present in both the American and the European markets, create two charts for each market and find out the best times to publish your posts for each part of the world.
Realize that the Best Posting Times can Change
The process of understanding the best days and times to post on social media is continuous and necessitates constant monitoring. As with everything in social media, trends can change and social media managers must adapt their strategies to these changes.
There could be some specific reasons that the best posting times could change. Perhaps the behavior of your target group can change, and they are interacting with posts at an earlier time than they did a year ago. Alternatively, your profile could add users from another demographic that uses social media at a different time than your existing core demographic. You may even consider creating different charts for different seasons, since ideal posting times could depend on the time of the year in some industries.
Think about What Type of Content Works!
As our article has shown so far, understanding when is a good time to post on social media can be helpful in crafting a successful social media strategy. Finding the best time to post is important, but simply posting at the right times is not a fool-proof way to get more interactions from your users. Even the best insights we can give you will not improve your performance if your content is not engaging or is not what your audience is looking for.
One way you could go about finding out what types of posts your audience wants is by conducting a tagging analysis that identifies post types and their interaction rates can give you valuable insight related to what type of content your audience wants. While this is a topic for another day, finding the best time to post is just one part of what can make a social media strategy a success.
Find out when you should post for yourself!
With Fanpage Karma, you can discover the best posting times for Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, TikTok, YouTube, and LinkedIn. But that is not all. You can create multiple dashboards for different networks and figure out when your users are most receptive to your content. The tool includes features for benchmarking analysis, publishing and content planning, reporting, community management, and so much more.
You and your team can test all features for free. No credit card required!
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