The idea that there are best times to post on social media is an attractive one. After all, who wouldn’t want to know exactly when you’ll get maximum engagement.
Unfortunately, there is no such thing as a universal best time to post.
Studies can’t agree which time is best in the first place. Buffer suggests that the best time to post on Facebook is early afternoon, whereas TrackMaven says that 8pm on Thursdays is the best time. Sprout Social’s research shows 1pm on Thursdays as the most active time, and Buzzsumo advises against sharing posts at peak times altogether.
Instead, you need to find the best times to post for your audience, and there is no quick trick to help you find when this is. What’s more, a post’s performance is not determined by timing alone. With SmarterQueue, evergreen recycling, content categories, and in-depth analytics will help you find the best times to post for your audience. You’ll be able to cut out the guesswork and see better performance as a result.
What does engagement depend on?
It’s not surprising that there’s so much conflicting data about the best times to post on social media. There are many independent factors that contribute to engagement:
- What time of the day was it posted? (and how does this relate to your audience’s time zones)
- Which day of the week was it posted?
- What was the content of the post?
- Was it a short headline, or long?
- Did it have an image? If so, what was the image?
- Was there a major news story at the time of the post? (Decreasing the likelihood of engagement with unrelated content.)
Timing only plays a small part in a post’s performance.
Shouldn’t I just post when most of my followers are online?
Some people believe that peak times are the best times to post on social media as you have the benefit of reaching the largest audience. However, that is also when most other people are publishing. This means you’re competing with not only your direct competition but also any personal activity, leaving you fighting to be seen in a sea of content.
On the other hand, if you’re posting at off-peak times, there should be a lot less content to compete with. This has been referred to as the late-night infomercial effect – share when there is limited activity, and there’s a higher chance your post stands out. The obvious flipside to that is you may not have many people online to see your post.
You won’t necessarily get the best results by posting when most people are online.
Evergreen recycling helps you find the best times to post on social media
By re-sharing the same post on different days and times, you can get an insight into which days and times get more engagement in our stats-per-cycle view. This is the most scientific way to experiment with the best times/days to post because the content stays the same. However, nothing’s perfect: even if you shared the post at the exact same date and time every week for months, the engagement received varies from post to post. Here’s an example:
Neither you nor your audience has time or patience for you to endlessly repeat a small number of posts while you collect your data. Instead, you can build up a heat map on SmarterQueue by recycling your varied content menu at lots of different days and times. The heat map shows engagement across all your posts, broken down by the day and time of sharing.
Optimise your posting with SmarterQueue’s heat map
SmarterQueue helps you understand your specific audience through the data we collect for you. (We’ve already talked about how to make the most of the data SmarterQueue provides.)
When you look at your heatmap, consider these 3 things:
1) The right content at the right time
Some types of content perform better at certain times of day (and days of the week). Filter the heatmap by category to explore this and find the best times to post each of your different content types. For example, you may find that inspiration posts work best on Monday mornings, while blog posts work best in the evenings or weekends.
2) Make sure your data is meaningful
Before you jump to conclusions, make sure that the sample of size of your data is large. For example, if your heatmap shows a small red dot at Friday 9am, but it came from only 1 post, that’s more likely to be about the content than the time.
What you should be looking for instead are large red dots, which indicate that several posts got more engagement at that time. We collect data for you all the time, so if there isn’t enough yet, there will be soon.
3) Mix up your timeslots
Since you can only see statistics for the times that you have posted something, it’s essential to cover all timeslots when you test. For example, if you’ve only posted at 8am and 10am, and never posted at 9am, there’s no way of finding out whether 9am is a good or bad time to post compared to the other times.
You can also do this with your categories: if you think you’ve found time slots that are most popular across the week (and all your categories), try mixing up which category you post at these times for a few weeks to see the impact. This is the only way to find out the best times to post on social media for your specific audience.
Content is king (No, really!)
You can’t tire of this piece of advice—ultimately what matters most is the content. Good content will get more engagement whatever time you post it. Think of who your audience is and what their problems are, and spend your effort on finding content that is genuinely useful to them.
Social algorithms only show your posts to 5% of your total audience when they are first posted. Though, timings are less important than they used to be. The algorithms can keep some posts active long after they were published – if they got some good initial engagement.
With all the work you put into sharing great content, it deserves to be seen by as many people as possible.
SmarterQueue lets you recycle your posts across different times and days, ensuring your content gets the engagement it deserves (up to 10x more). And with our detailed analytics tools, you’ll soon discover how to reach your audience regardless of when they’re online. It’s the smartest way to do social media. Properly.