When is the Best Time to Post on Social Media? Method or Myth?

07 May

When is the Best Time to Post on Social Media?  Method or Myth?

Google “When is the best time to post on social media” and you will receive over two billion results.  Two BILLION!  That’s crazy.  I had noticed recently that when I started the question in Google, “When is the best…” that I was prompted for many social media related choices.  “When is the best time to post on Instagram to get likes” or “When is the best time to post on Facebook to increase reach”.  So, I got to wondering, is there really a best time? 

As some of you may know, I was a professional nerd in my previous life.  I earned a B.S. in Industrial Engineering from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and started my career as an engineer in the world of manufacturing.  While I have hung up my safety glasses and steel-toed shoes, I still have a love of research and numbers, and I enjoy a good graph.  So, when I saw that so many people had theories about when to post on social media, I thought I’d perform a very casual experiment of my own.  I would measure how my posts were currently performing, and then pick two other theories and try their methods.

First, I selected a very well-written blog that suggested that I post on Instagram 1 to 2 times per day between 8am and 9am, or at 2am.  For Facebook, the author recommended that I post once a day between 1pm and 4pm.  So, I did.  I used the same content that I would normally use, but for one week, I only posted at the times suggested. 

Second, I followed a Sprout.com article that recommended that I post on Instagram at 11am on Wednesday, between 10am and 11am on Friday, Tuesday through Friday between 10am and 3pm and not at all on Saturday or Sunday.  For Facebook, I was to post Wednesday at 11am and 1pm, Monday through Friday between 9am and 3pm, and not on Saturday or Sunday.  This regimen for each platform seemed much more specific, so I was indeed intrigued.  For week number two, I posted, as instructed.

Now, I’ll add my personal posting regimen as the third specimen of the test.  When I schedule a post, I think about who will be most receptive to it, and when they would have the best opportunity to receive it.  So, I don’t have a set formula.  If I want to post something quick and motivational, I do it early on a Monday.  If I have a blog or an article I would like to share, I post it late morning on a Thursday or Friday, or on a Sunday if it’s lengthy.  Action oriented and educational posts are more of a mid-week staple, while fun stuff, is towards the end of the week and in the evening hours.  I try to think about my personal social media intake, and how my audience may be similar or different.

Ok, now that I have you on the edge of your seat, here are the results!  My own trial and error method of posting had the best results, so I’ll use that as our baseline.  The Sprout regimen decreased my engagement by 31% overall.  And, the blog recommended post schedule decreased engagement by 62%.   I never thought the results would be so dramatic.  Thank you to everyone who stuck with my Facebook and Instagram posts throughout the two experimental weeks!  Both sets of advice were so specific, that going into it, I thought that there may be an increase for one or the other, or no change across the board.  Nope, there was a clear leader, and that was good news to me.

So, here’s the takeaway. 

  • Listen to your audience and learn who they are.  Use the analytics tools that each social media platform provides to track what is working and what is not.  Does your audience crave humor, education, inspiration?  Are they reading your posts at work, over lunch, or at home in their jammies?  Over time, they will let you know.  It’s up to you to keep track.
  • Nothing beats great content.  Once you know what your audience appreciates and when they are available to receive it, be sure to give them the something to enjoy, talk about, or share.  Keep your posts relevant, timely and visually interesting to give them a long enough life on any platform to make an impact.
  • Finally, once you have their attention, remember to keep directing them back to your website, which is your very best, 24-hour, customer service representative.  Compare your social media ups and downs to your website analytics and your sales figures, which are just other ways to keep listening to your audience.  Inspiration.  Communication.  Impact.

Now go forth and post with self-confidence.  Put your message where your audience can find it.  And, keep experimenting.  If two billion people can become experts, you can too.


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