A bluffer’s guide to social media timing – When’s the best time to tweet, Facebook, email or publish a blog post?

social media timing
social media timing

When it comes to optimal timing for social media, a lot of research available to us is conflicting. Belle Beth Cooper – a Content Crafter at social media scheduling service Buffer and cofounder of Hello Code – has compiled a bunch of stats and figures to help you find the best time to communicate with your audience…

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Since the web is still relatively new, we really need more time and studies to get definitive answers about what works best when communicating on various platforms. Not only that, the fact that our audience members are constantly changing their own activity patterns makes it even harder to work out.

So my suggestion would be to use this guide as just that – a guide to help you work out what to test for your own audience, so that you can see what actually works best in your case.

Facebook – find the best time to post your updates

When I posted about Facebook’s News Feed algorithm, one of the factors I talked about was time decay – this is simply the age of your post or how long it has been since you posted it. With the recent introduction of Story Bumping, time decay matters a lot less than how relevant your story is to the user, in terms of how it got into their News Feed (ie does it from come a user or page they interact with often, or have interacted with recently).

Still, it’s good to keep time decay in mind, since it does make some difference because you won’t see posts from three months ago in your News Feed today. In terms of specific days and times to post on Facebook, here are some of the stats:

According to a Buddy Media study, engagement rates are 18 per cent higher on Thursdays and Fridays. As they put it: “the less people want to be at work, the more they are on Facebook!”

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Specific industries varied slightly in which days of the week garnered the most engagement, but most of them peaked around the end of the week, from Wednesday to Friday.

Another study found that engagement was 32 per cent higher on weekends, so the end of the week is definitely a good rough guide to start experimenting with.

The best time of day to post on Facebook is debatable with stats ranging from 1pm to get the most shares to 3pm to get more clicks to the broader suggestion of posting anytime between 9am and 7pm. It seems this generally points to early afternoon being a solid time to post, and anytime after dinner and before work being a long shot.

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Twitter – timing for engagement vs clicks

Twitter is such a popular network for mobile users that it can be tricky to lock down exactly when the best time to post is.

According to an Argyle Social study, weekdays provide 14 per cent more engagement than weekends, so this is definitely one you’ll want to test on your audience. For click-throughs, the best times seem to be around noon and 6pm. This could be due to lunch breaks and people looking for something to keep them occupied on the commute home.

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There are lots of Twitter users who primarily use mobile devices – rarely loading up Twitter on their desktops. Twitter did an interesting study of these users and found that they are 181 per cent more likely to be on Twitter during their commute.

Email – find the best time to send for the right content

There’s been lots of research done on the best time to send emails, particularly in the case of email marketing. Some research done by Dan Zarrella from Hubspot broke down each time of day and worked out which type of emails work best for that period. Here’s what he found:

  • 10pm–6am: This is the dead zone, when hardly any emails get opened.
  • 6am–10am: Consumer-based marketing emails are best sent early in the morning.
  • 10am-noon: Most people are working, and probably won’t open your email.
  • Noon–2pm: News and magazine updates are popular during lunch breaks.
  • 2–3pm: After lunch lots of people buckle down and ignore their inbox.
  • 3–5pm: Property and financial-related offers are best sent in the early afternoon.
  • 5–7pm: Holiday promotions & B2B promotions get opened mostly in the early evening.
  • 7–10pm: Consumer promotions are popular again after dinner.

What I thought was really interesting about this breakdown is why each type of email is more popular at certain times. Understanding how these time blocks work can be a good start to sending your emails at just the right time. And since about 24 per cent of emails are opened within an hour of being received, this is something we definitely want to get right.

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In a different study by MailChimp open rates were shown to be noticeably lower on weekends, which isn’t surprising. They also found that open rates increased after 12pm, and were highest between 2pm and 5pm.

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Well-known investor and serial entrepreneur Mark Suster offers some great advice when it comes to sending emails:

Often I’ll write emails on the weekend and then send first thing Monday morning. I want to be on top of the stack, not at the bottom of the pile. Most people process email first thing in the morning (although productivity experts say not to!).

BTW, when I wrote blog posts on Sunday’s I always tweet again Monday morning for exactly this reason.

Blog posts – what time should you hit publish?

Dan Zarrella has some more great stats on this topic, but he makes a good point about the pros and cons of the timing you choose.

One thing Dan suggests we consider is that if we post during time of higher traffic, we’re more likely to have higher bounce rates and get lost amongst the noise of other content being published. On the other hand, posting at times when fewer people are online will garner less traffic and engagement, but give our posts more prominence and less competition against other content.

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Here are some useful stats to consider from Dan’s research into blog timing:

  • 70 per cent of users say they read blogs in the morning
  • More men read blogs at night than women
  • Mondays are the highest traffic days for an average blog
  • 11am is usually the highest traffic hour for an average blog
  • Comments are usually highest on Saturdays and around 9am on most days
  • Blogs that post more than once per day have a higher chance of inbound links and more unique views
  • Knowing your audience is obviously important for working out the best time to publish on your blog. If your audience is women, for instance, mornings are probably a better bet than nights.

While Mondays are the best days to publish for traffic, Social Fresh suggests posting on a Thursday for more social shares across the web. The study also found that most content-sharing happens in the morning, which backs up Dan’s stats that mornings are the most popular time to read blogs.

The original article appeared on Buffer’s blog.

Image credits:
Clock – flickr user Robert Couse Baker 

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