So much goes into dictating success on social media. It's more than quality content and sharing with the right platforms (although these are two key ingredients). As is the case with just about everything else in life, timing is everything. Posting content on social media plays just as much, if not a bigger role in the success of a post, blog or share information as does the quality itself. After all, if nobody is around to read, listen to or view the post, it's all for naught. While each social media user may find slightly different results, mostly on their followers and key demographics, there are generally specific times when most social media users can experience optimal results. Posting during these time frames will help boost visibility, which in turn should help increase engagement. Before posting another link, blog, image or comment on social media, it is necessary to go over what the best times to post on individual social media accounts are.
Understand Time Zones and Where Target Audience Is Located
This is where understanding the location of a key demographic is so important. Time zones affect when a user should post content to their profile. According to Hubspot (2017), 80 percent of the population within the United States is located in the Eastern and Central Time zones. Understanding not only time zones, but also the location, is a must. For example, if a user sells primarily in the state of Arizona, they need to know that Arizona does not acknowledge Day Light Savings, which means half the year it is in Pacific Time and the other half it is in Mountain Time.
For power users who amass larger audiences spanning not only North America but around the world, it is generally best to post in the set times where the majority of followers come from. For social media sites such as Facebook and YouTube, business analytics are provided, so information on where most followers and viewers come from is available. However, for other sites such as Instagram, this kind of information is not readily available. In these instances, it is best to post when customers come from. If an account holder is located in Toronto, it’s best to post Eastern Time. If someone is located in London, it is best to post at the recommended time in London.
Analytics and key demographics make up essential information for any business, and the more a business knows about its target audience, the easier it is to fine-tune content specifically for them. It also helps in posting content to social media within the most desired times slots.
According to Hubspot (2017), there are several important times during the day to focus on when posting to Facebook. These times are 9 am, 1 pm, and 3 pm. As the research conducted by Hubspot indicates, content posted at 3 pm will receive the most clicks while material posted at 1 pm will receive the most shares. These times directly relate to when people work. They tend to check Facebook first thing at work, the first thing after lunch and towards the end of the day as work begins to wind down. Due to this, it is desirable to post single posts or embedded images at 9 am and 1 pm. Articles requiring someone to click and open up a new tab are better off at 3 pm because users have more "free time" towards the end of their work shift, rather than right at the beginning of the day or immediately following lunch.
Days of the week play an important role in successful posts on Facebook. While staying active and uploading at least one bit of content to Facebook on a daily basis is important, some will undoubtedly perform better than others. The weekend, starting with Thursday and ending with Sunday see the highest engagement increase. Thursday and Friday see an engagement increase of 18 percent over the rest of the work week, while Saturday and Sunday see an increase in engagement by 32 percent. Additionally, funny content does better on Fridays as people are already in a good, weekend-is-coming kind of mood, so companies should focus on posting upbeat, humorous content on Friday.
Facebook does provide analytics for business pages, so staying on top of what the analytical insights provide is a must. These insights might point to a slight shift in user interaction. If this proves to be the case, a business account should adjust posting times accordingly.
Twitter varies not only from Facebook in terms of the best times to post, but the target audience plays a drastic role here as well. There are three key time slots for optimal posts on Twitter. These time slots include 12 pm, 3 pm and between 5 and 6 pm. The optimal times on Twitter, much like Facebook, are centered around office hours. Individuals who clock in during traditional hours are more likely to check their Twitter feed at lunchtime, as the workday begins to slow-down, and immediately following work (many workers also have short breaks around 3 pm, which is another reason why this time slot performs well). In fact, heavy Twitter users are more likely to check their accounts during the commute home (Hubspot, 2017).
Wednesday stands as the busiest day for Twitter, as users want to check in on news and updates in Wednesday while connecting with social users on accounts like Facebook occur at the end of the week.
The biggest difference between posting content to Twitter and Facebook rests on whether a company account sells to customers or other businesses. Business to business (B2B) tweets perform 16 percent better during regular business hours. On the other hand, business to customer tweets perform 17 percent better on the weekends. This is because customers are more likely to see sale and product tweets during the weekends, which increases customer engagement. When interacting with another business account, these accounts are most likely run by specific social media managers (or interns) and so receive more attention during traditional office hours.
Twitter offers Twitter Analytics to help monitor when tweets receive the highest level of engagement. This analytical data also makes it possible to check in on followers to see when they are most likely to tweet, which indicates when followers are more likely to log on and check their feeds.
The social media platform LinkedIn serves as the only primary business networking platform. While other services come with an assortment of professional features, LinkedIn is exclusively business, so a very specific demographic uses LinkedIn on a regular basis. It also means a more specific user will post content to LinkedIn. Twitter demonstrated the difference in performance between business to business posts and business to consumer posts. Much of the B2B aspects transfers over to LinkedIn posting, with most of LinkedIn usage taking place during traditional business hours.
According to the Hubspot (2017) research, the top days to post to Linked are in the middle of the week (Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday). Engagement drops off significantly on Friday and Monday sees similar low engagement numbers because most professionals shift from work mode to weekend mode on Friday, and on Monday they are catching up on the week's new to do list. Saturday and Sunday see baseline engagement, so uploading should be avoided during this time.
Optimal LinkedIn posting times are directly connected to the workday. The best times are broken down into three different periods: 7-8am, 12-1pm and 5-6pm. These times indicate LinkedIn is used just prior to work, during lunch breaks and immediately following the workday. The 5-6pm-time period receives the most attention as users can spend more time with the material. With that said, while user engagement increases between 5-6, subscribers are more likely to read posts in the morning, similar to how they might read a newspaper. Midday posts are best kept to short blurbs, updates, survey polls or other, shorter content. Anything longer and a user may not have time to sift through and read the content.
The visually based social media platform Pinterest is unique in that optimal days depend heavily on the kind of content posted. In fact, certain content performs better on specific days than others. Saturday and Sunday receive the most traffic, with food and travel posts seeing the largest amount of traffic over the weekend. On Monday, fitness posts receive the highest level of traffic, with "tech gadgets" seeing the most viewing and engagements on Tuesdays. Wednesday is all about quotes. Users of Pinterest search for inspirational quotes to help motivate themselves (and others) at the mid-week point. Thursday sees outfits receiving the most traffic (most likely users looking for weekend outfits) and Friday the top performing posts revolve around gifts. With so many variations and changes in performance, Pinterest is a bit tricky and will require a good amount of experimentation from users (Hubspot, 2017).
As for the best times, there is again three different windows of time an account show post to Pinterest. However, these optimal times are much different from all previous social media accounts. These three windows are 2 pm, 9 pm and 2 am. Pinterest sees the most user traffic between 8 and 11 pm on Saturdays. The worst time to post content on Pinterest is during work hours. It takes time to sift through images and to post favorite content to Pinterest boards, which is why the social media platform doesn’t receive as much traffic during office hours (Hubspot, 2017).
Pinterest is one of the newer platforms to take advantage of business account services and benefits. Business accounts provide additional analytical information, which can make tracking post-performance easier. This is especially important with each day serving as a different key time for varying post subjects. It will likely take some experimentation for a business user to determine when the best time is for their particular content.
Users on Pinterest spend longer amounts of time on the social media account. They will often post to Pinterest while watching television or during the extended free time. It is not a time-passing activity like Twitter, where a user might just scroll through the account for a few minutes. Because Pinterest users spend more time on their accounts, it is important for a business to devote quality time to the content it wishes to share and pin to Pinterest.
Google+ doesn't have the same kind of user interaction as most other social media accounts. Realistically, the real reason a company should use Google+ is because of its connection to both Google and YouTube. Sharing content on Google can help increase visibility. However, as Hubspot (2017) indicates, around 90 percent of all account holders on Google+ do not interact with posted content. In fact, most users have Google+ accounts because they either have a Gmail, YouTube or other Google-based activated account.
The best time to post onto Google+ is right in the middle of the week, typically Wednesdays. In many ways, Google+ shares similarities with LinkedIn, as office hour posts receive the highest level of interaction. The very best time to post to the social media account is at 9 am, 11 am and between 12 and 1 pm. However, optimal times may vary on Google+ due to the wide demographic of users. Google does provide a service known as Timing+. This service helps account holders track audience and determine when followers are online. This can help with when to post content to a Google+ account.
YouTube stands out in the crowded world of social media. The services it provides differ from that of nearly all other major platforms. In many ways, YouTube is part search engine, part social media. For companies looking to post videos to YouTube, like the other accounts, there are desired times, although these will likely vary significantly from one user to another.
According to Help Me More (2017), the Frederator Networks produces and works with over 1,500 different YouTube channels. By analyzing data from the network, there are specific timeframes for optimal viewability, likes, subscribes and shares. When posting between Monday and Wednesday, the best time of the day is between 2 and 4 pm. When posting on Thursday and Friday, the best time to post is between noon and 3 pm, while on Saturday and Sunday the best time is between 9 am and 11 am.
One of the things YouTube does possibly better than all other social media platforms is analytics. YouTube analytics provides just about everything a user would need to identify where their followers come from and when the most views occur. This is where identifying user location is important and posting videos based on time zones can help increase views.
One of the drawbacks of YouTube is posting content often takes time. Upload times vary based on Internet connection speed and, more specifically, the size of the file. Some video uploads may take several hours, so it is often best to begin uploading the file early, but then wait and have it published and go live during the recommended times.
YouTube analytics can prove daunting to sift through. There is a considerable amount of data to sift and identifying key times may prove a bit difficult. This is where the TubeBuddy plug-in helps. TubeBuddy is an officially supported YouTube plug-in (that is also free). The plug-in analyzes all information regarding posts, views, likes, comments and everything else from a user's YouTube account. It then provides three "Best Time to Publish" options. This includes for everyone, for subscribers, and for non-subscribers. This way, an account holder can post content based on whom they want to specifically target. TubeBuddy also helps with adding in keywords and posting a wide range of other information.
Despite Facebook’s ownership of Instagram, this visual social media platform varies with regards to the best posting time. According to the same Hubspot (2017) research, the very best days to post to Instagram are Monday and Thursday. Realistically, in order to maintain and grow followers, it is recommended to post every day. However, if planning out posts, the highest quality visuals should go live on the two aforementioned days.
In terms of the best times, an account user should post between 8-9am, 5 pm or at 2 am. Users should avoid posting during traditional work hours as a significant drop occurs, outside of the 8-9am time frame, where users are still viewing their social media accounts prior to starting up with work. 3-4pm sees the lowest user engagement time at any point during the day.
Posting videos to Instagram is an excellent way to gain valuable attention. It also provides additional analytical data as an account holder can see who views the videos. The best time to post videos on Instagram is around 9 pm, as videos uploaded during this time frame receive 34 percent more interactions than at any other time of the day.
One aspect that is important to consider when it comes to Instagram is this social media account is almost specifically used with mobile devices. While it is possible to log onto an Instagram account and check out the content on a desktop, the vast majority of users log on with their mobile device exclusively. Because Instagram is an almost exclusively mobile social media platform, users can log on whenever they want, wherever they want, so it is important to experiment with the timing and subject of posts. As key demographics change, so too will the time followers log onto their profiles.
Snapchat is one of the newest social media platforms out there. The platform is different in that it allows users to post videos and images that remain visible to followers for only a short amount of time. In this way, it shares similarities with Instagram’s Stories feature. Currently, according to BizTraffic (2017), the majority of Snapchat users are under the age of 25, which means there is a very specific demographic audience for companies. It also means Snapchat may not prove necessary for all users, but for businesses targeting a younger audience, it is an excellent opportunity (and a way to stand out from similar businesses).
With Snapchat, the optimal time to post is between 10 pm and 1 am. There isn't a specific day that sees more or less traffic as every day is more or less consistent. There also isn’t a tone in way of analytical data options for monitoring Snapchat because the posts disappear after a short amount of time. This is why it is best for a user to monitor its content closely and to look at what time (and what posts) receive the most engagement. Snapchat does have an option for scheduling posts, so social media managers do not need to stay up to all hours of the night, posting content to the image based platform.
Tumblr has seen a bit of a downturn in users as most social media users now post images directly to Facebook or Instagram. However, Tumblr still has, according to the Dreamgrow (2017) research, 115 million monthly users, which is more than Google+ and LinkedIn. With this number of active users, it is worthwhile to still take advantage of the site. This is especially the case as it is possible to post to Instagram and Tumblr at the same time (Instagram has a built-in option with its mobile application to allow simultaneous uploads). Both Tumblr and Flickr fall into this similar category of image-based social media platforms worth considering (Flickr has 112 million active monthly users).
According to Millennial Business Association (2017), 42 percent of all activity occurs at night, between 5 pm and 1 am. 10 pm on Wednesday sees the most traffic at one particular time. However, Saturday and Sunday see the most active posts. 16.1 percent of all posts go live on Sunday. The next closest days are Saturday and Wednesday at 14.9 percent. Friday is close behind at 14.2 percent, although the other days of the week lag behind.
As the Millennial Business Association points out, the best time to post an actual image to the social media platform is at 4 pm. This way, it is up and ready to receive notes (comments) from subscribers and other users. With peak note posting time at 10 pm, it is important to have visuals posted prior to the 10 pm time frame.
For companies and individuals using Flickr, there are better times to upload content to the platform, according to Home Business Unlimited, (2017). Most users log onto the account early in the morning and later in the evening after work, so the best time to post to Flickr is between 7 and 9 am and then later between 5 and 7 pm. Flickr is used primarily by visual professionals, so for companies looking to showcase products and services, it is important to focus on these two-time frames. It is also important to post during the week and avoid the weekend. Flickr’s traffic begins to drop on Friday and completely bottoms out on Saturday and Sunday.
Reddit offers a different social media experience from the other services out there. In a way, Reddit is similar to the earlier days of the Internet with chat room communities. It does not rely on visual uploads (although this is an option). It is worth mentioning Reddit within other social media platforms though because, according to Dreamgrow (2017), it is the fifth largest social network on the Internet in terms of active monthly users at 250 million. For comparison purposes, Pinterest has 200 million active monthly users, Google+ has 111 active monthly users and LinkedIn has 106 million. Facebook is the largest at 2.07 billion monthly users, followed by YouTube at 1.5 billion, Instagram with 800 million and Twitter with 330 million.
According to Marketers Guide to Reddit (2017), the best days to post to Reddit are between Monday and Thursday as the platform receives the most traffic during this time. It may vary slightly based on the topic, but in general, this is the time of the week most posts should go live.
The optimal time to post to Reddit, as the Marketer's Guide to Reddit indicates, is 9 am Eastern Time. Top posts usually go live between 8 and 9 am, although top subsections in Reddit posts vary. This is where posting content to a subsection of Reddit heavily depends on the target audience and the topic. Some experimentation is needed in order to determine what works best for a given business or user.
While not a traditional social media platform, blogging falls under this category as people can subscribe to an RSS feed while sharing and commenting on the blog. Writing blogs is also vital for a website in order to help it grow its user base and boost search engine optimization. According to CoSchedule (2017), users are more likely to read a blog post in the morning. Subsequent views of blogs dip throughout the rest of the day, so having a blog post up for the morning pre-work hours is a must. Monday also receives the most traffic, with Wednesday coming in as the second most popular day. Friday sees a slight drop off, but Saturday is the bottom out day for blog reading (although the most comments are posted on Saturday, which means readers are more likely to return to a blog they read during the week and post a comment).
Putting it All Together
Trying to stay on top of so many different social media platforms can prove difficult. Some do require more cultivating than others. Remaining connected with followers, subscribers, and friends is a must, otherwise, they will either stop paying attention to an account or unsubscribe altogether. For companies with a social media manager, it is easier to stay on top of posting times and replying to comments. For smaller businesses or individuals looking for ways to post at the right times, there are plenty of social media managing platforms and services out there that will post at requested times. This way, a user just needs to prepare the posts and set the posting times.
The last question to answer is how often should a user post on these different social media platforms? There's a fine line between posting too much, the right amount and not enough. Posting not enough and subscribers begin to forget about a user. Posting too much and it may flood a follower's newsfeed, which may potentially lead to followers unsubscribing. According to Home Business Unlimited (2017), it is best to post on Twitter three times a day at different times. Facebook should receive two posts a day at different times, while LinkedIn should receive one quality post a day. Instagram should post one to two posts per day at different times, while Flickr and Tumblr should receive the same 1-2 posts per day. Pinterest, on the other hand, should receive five pins per day. As pins work a bit differently than posts, it won’t flood a user’s profile and instead may provide additional insights and ideas subscribers will like.
Lastly, there is blogging. Blogging is different from one user to the next. Ideally, a blog should be updated at least six to eight times a month. This means around two posts per week or so, with posts going live on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. As long as the blog provides quality content, the more frequently a post goes up the better. This is also where understanding the key demographic is important as some readers may want more content, while others may be fine with one or two posts per week. Experimentation here, as is the case with much of posting times and schedules, is important.
The time requirements for optimal social media engagements varies not as much by platform but more so by demographic. Each social media service is used by a slightly different target audience, which in turn changes when posts are more likely to be seen based on their schedules. It is important for a social media account holder to keep all of this in mind, but not necessarily treat it as the gospel truth. As a company will have different demographical information from others posting, it is important to still tinker and monitor user response. A company may discover the best time for posting differs slightly from the norm. However, this information provides an excellent starting ground for experimentation and, from here, the sky is the limits for a social media user providing helpful, insightful and entertaining posts, regardless of their chosen platform.