If you sense that there must be the best time to post on social media, you are… dead-on. It’s just that the best posting hours will vary depending on your target audiences as their preferences and habitual behavior must be taken into account. Imagine you sell live freshly-cut Christmas trees. If you miss the advent season, try as you may, you’ll stand no chance of persuading your customers to make the purchase.
Analyze your target group behavior
Of course, you can gamble (my lucky number is 10 so let’s post at 10 a.m and 10 p.m!) or rely on guesswork (a good time to surf the net is 6 p.m., because that’s when I usually do it). But much better way to do it is to have a closer look at your potential followers’ behavior. Search data on their daily rituals or go through available research findings (e.g. Pew Research Center reports). Find out what time they go online, which type of information they seek in the morning and what they are after in the evening.
Check out which communication mode appeals to them best at different times of the day (image, word or sound)?
That’s a solid starting point to set the timeframe for your regular postings.
Ask yourself what your focus is
The idea is that you should be able to maximize your audience outreach and entice a desired reaction. Some of your posts (images, memes and short texts), which do not engage your followers’ attention for more than just moments, will be designed to only generate likes, comments and further sharing activity. Other types of content aim at a more committed relationship (e.g. when you post an interesting instruction video to sell a training course). Here you need to get your users to stick around for longer than just moments. Therefore the most valuable content should be posted at the key moment when your users are able to give it the maximum possible time and attention.
Factor in the type of social media network
Social channels differ a lot as they seek to cater for different needs of their users. Therefore you should bear in mind the following:
- Twitter resembles an information board at the biggest railway hub in the world. It’s brimming with hot news, heated debates and comments on current issues. An average tweet has a lifespan of 24 minutes! The reaction time is crucial. Statistics say it’s best to tweet from Monday to Thursday between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. (the peak hours being 1 p.m.-3 p.m.). Your target users might be active at different times, though (take overseas correspondents or night clubs owners).
- Instagram is a Mecca for visualizers i.e. the entire image society we have all become. It is widely believed that it’s best to post in the morning and just before going to sleep. However, the peak hours in the catering industry seem to be around 9 a.m., the noon and 10 p.m. This is when you get the highest amount of the service users activity.
- Facebook is a universal channel where you can post anytime you wish without being worried about your posts vanishing into thin digital air after 15 minutes or so. The content posted around 11 a.m. and between 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. gets the most engagement. With some exceptions, of course. Contrary to this general tendency, the activity of the liquor industry fans hits a spike around 8 p.m. 😉
- Snapchat is like a time bomb ticking away. Here it’s not so much about when you post your snap as it is about how long it will last. Your post’s lifespan is 24 hours at best. This is exactly how much time your message has to reach your potential users. Unless one of them gets to use the Memories feature which allows to save snaps. Then your post will be safely backed up and ready to be accessed again.
Test and monitor
Rather than following your instincts, rely on solid data. Put your schedule to test. Check if your posts reach your audiences. If the conversion level doesn’t come up to your expectations despite posting in the periods of their most intense activity, consider paid promotion. Sometimes organic reach is not enough to get through to your potential customers.
Monitor your followers’ engagement with available tools such as Twitter Analytics, Facebook Audience Insights, Simply Measured and web page analytics. Translate this information into specific hours when posting your content will be most effective from the perspective of your target group.