The Best Time to Post: A Definitive Answer

The internet is littered with attempts to answer what appears a straightforward question: when is the best time to post content on social media?

QuickSprout, Huffington Post, Elle & Co, MarketingProfs, Kissmetrics, Buffer and many more claim to have answers and insight. These are fantastic companies, but once we start to compare the findings, a problem begins to emerge… There is no consensus, and many results contradict other studies.

The optimist in us would suggest to look for commonality between the data. If we aggregate the findings from multiple studies, that should reveal a universal 'best time'. On Instagram, Monday was the most common day, Wednesday afternoons got the nod on Twitter, while Thursday and Friday 1-3pm were the most common for Facebook. The realist in us suggests the lack of consensus is indicative of a wider problem.

Asking 'when is the best time to post on social media', is a bit like asking 'what is the best food to eat'. There is lots of data, but it depends how you define 'best', and there is a different answer for every person. It's illogical for the optimist in us to reason that aggregating the most common answer would yield a definitive 'best food to eat' (although Elon Musk does warn against reasoning by analogy).

Instagram

Source

Best time(s)

QuickSprout

Monday, Sunday

Elle & Co

Monday, during day, avoid 3-4pm

TrackMaven

Thursday, Monday

Huffington Post

2am, 5pm | Wednesday 7pm

MarketingProfs

Monday 8-9am, 1-2pm generally

CoSchedule

Tuesdays 2pm



Important note - all of these studies took place before the full rollout of the algorithmic feed. This would explain why a common comment across the studies was that Instagram engagement was relatively similar regardless of posting time (because every single post was shown to a user in chronological order). Undoubtedly the new feed means posting time on Instagram has higher highs and lower lows.

Twitter

Source

Best time(s)

QuickSprout

Workdays 5pm for retweets (B2B), 12-6pm for clickthroughs, Weekends (B2C)

Elle & Co

Wednesdays 12-1pm, 6-7pm for retweets

SurePayroll

Monday-Thursday 1pm-3pm

Huffington Post

12pm & 5pm for retweets, Monday-Friday (B2B), Wednesday (B2C)

Kissmetrics

Wednesday 5pm

Buffer

Weekends (engagement), Wednesday (B2B clickthroughs)

CoSchedule

11am, 9-10am, 2pm (clickthroughs)



Interesting note - A common comment to explain the varied 'best times' was that Twitter users often engage in short periods of down-time, like during a commute and at lunch.

Facebook

Source

Best time(s)

QuickSprout

Thursday & Friday 1pm (shares) 3pm (clicks)

Elle & Co

Saturday/Sunday 1-3pm

Fast Company

Wednesday 3pm

Huffington Post

Thursday & Friday 1-3pm

Kissmetrics

Saturday 12pm

Buffer

Thursday & Friday 1-3-7pm

CoSchedule

9-10am, 11am-12pm, 4pm



Interesting note - A common finding was that there is an increase in usage and engagement on Fridays, as positivity for the weekend came on. We like the idea that humorous and positive content is ideally suited to this time (but don't have hard data to confirm this).

These findings focused on the USA, and we know audiences in different places have different patterns. To make matters more complicated, the earth isn't flat (yep, we thought you needed a link) - timezones are a pain in the &%#. Even in an ideal case, with an audience all in the same country in the same timezone, this is a difficult question to answer. Throw in those variables, and it's for all intents and purposes impossible.

We decided to dive deeper, and look for a study that had looked at the problem with the right amount of rigour and respect for the data, rather than being focused on giving readers a digestible answer. We found another startup using big data and machine learning to get the most out of social media called EchoBox, in their case for mega publishers like Vogue and The Telegraph. The EchoBox team is incredibly talented, and their success speaks for itself.

Focusing on Facebook, they found the following

  • There were very different traffic (clickthrough) profiles between different countries; France, the UK and South America
  • Even for very similar publishers in the same country (France), there were crucial differences in traffic and activity. The best time for one account was the worst daytime period for another account.
  • They concluded that 'there is no universal ‘best time’ to post on Facebook', and illustrated the dangers of believing there was a best time.

I know, I know - you read this hoping for some actionable answers. In fact your brain would actually prefer if we gave you an answer, even if it wasn't correct.. But you're smarter than that right?

So, let's take this from another angle - are there times when I should NOT post on social media? The answer is a firm yes. So *drumroll*, all things considered, here is our advice for the best time to post on social media.

  1. Do not post before 7am, or after 8pm. The data is clear on this, and it's also logical. So if you're creating an awesome blog post one Friday night, hold your fire.
  2. Know your audience and know your goals. The best time to post online is about knowing when your audience is online and when they are most receptive to doing what you would like them to.
  3. Experiment! Don't fall into the trap of thinking every post needs to be at the perfect time right from the beginning. By trying some different times, you'll get a feel for your audience and when they respond.

If you want to track your results and determine your own best time to post, here are some useful tools.

Facebook –

Facebook Analytics (click Page > Insights > Posts)

Fanpage karma

However, another word of warning, if you don't have a large account with hundreds of posts, there's just as much chance that these tools lead you in the wrong direction as the right one. Again, they would like to give you an answer, but you're better off not knowing the answer if it's not necessarily right. Why is it so hard? Because it's simply not possible to determine a best time to post for X goal with a statistically insignificant dataset. Further, following strict scheduling early in an account's life may create a self-fulfilling prophecy.

So, there you have it, there is no universal best time to post on social media, but there is some best-practice advice you can follow.

Share this with your social media friends in case they are following bad 'best time to post' advice!