Is There a Generic Best Time to Post On Social Media Platforms?

social media

Theoretically, social media has 2.3 billion users. Given the huge opportunity to interact with consumers, 91% of retail brands use two or three different social media channels.

But, these users are spread across geographies and log into their account at varying times. Given the inherent real-time nature of social media and that half of the users are suffering from fear of missing out (FOMO), your business updates need to find a regular place in the user feeds.

The key to derive more engagement from social media is to touch your audience at an appropriate time. Indeed, 71% of consumers who receive a quick response from a brand on social media are likely to recommend that brand to others. I’ve found that my social media traffic increases, by up to 39%, when I post during ideal times.

Since the time of posting is an important component of social media marketing, many studies have been conducted on the subject. The conclusions of such studies vary widely. One might suggest posting updates on weekends, while another might have found that the weekends are low on engagement.

Which posting advice should you follow?

In this article, I’ll start with a few “best time to post on social media” studies. Then, we’ll try to break down the various factors that are important for determining the optimal posting time for your brand.

Let’s begin.

The best posting times on social media platforms (along with their demographics)

Every social platform has a different appeal, varied user personas and varied ways in which people use them. In this section, let’s explore the results of studies and look at the characteristics of the users browsing the different social platforms.

LinkedIn is a professional network for business professionals and it has close to 350 million members. Research says that 50% of users access it through their mobile phones. Here are the demographics of its users.

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The platform is a quality lead generation source for B2B businesses. Most of the platform users are looking for industry-related information. And, 88% of the members log into their accounts at least once per week.

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Posting on weekdays (Monday to Friday), during normal office hours (10 am to 6 pm) makes the most sense. Most people won’t log into the network on weekends or from 10pm to 6am on any day. The results from the study on data from 14 million users, by AddThis, supported this.

Want to know the best time to post on social media? Download this cheat sheet to learn about audience demographic and best posting times on social media platforms.

10 am to 11 am on Tuesday looks like the best time to post on LinkedIn, for getting the most clicks and shares on your posts.

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TrackMaven study of 17.5 million social media posts by 17,737 brands (across 75 industries) found that 9 am EST on Wednesdays is the best time to post.

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So, we’ve established that office hours during weekdays (especially the middle of the week) makes for a good posting time on LinkedIn.

Next, let’s look at Twitter. The micro-blogging platform is used during work and at home. Here are the key demographics of its users – as you can see, people predominately in the age group of 18-49 use the platform.

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Twitter is a source for discovering trending subjects across the world. And, it’s generally used on mobile phones – while traveling and during office breaks.

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Pew Research center found that the use of Twitter and Facebook as news sources continues to rise.

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Posting at an optimal time on the platform is incredibly important, because of the short-lived nature of tweets. The HubSpot infographic below (compiled from various data sources) found that the best time to post on Twitter is 12 pm to 3 pm (lunch breaks during work) from Monday to Friday. Additionally, 5 pm to 6 pm on Wednesdays also appears to work equally well.

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Another way to look at Twitter is based on the nature of your business. For B2B businesses, weekdays receive 14% more engagement. And, for B2C businesses, weekends are a better bet.

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If we break down the engagement by retweets and CTR, then 12 pm and 6 pm have been found to get the highest clicks – probably, because people look for reading content during these breaks. Also, 5 pm has been found as the time for getting the highest number of retweets.

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Your engagement can also vary, depending on your industry. For example, Track Maven found that 1 pm on Friday is the best posting time for the aviation/airline industry – mostly since people are getting ready for trips. However, for the architecture industry, Saturday mornings work the best. Perhaps this is because people have time to think about home projects?

Next, let’s look at the biggest social network, with 1.65 billion users – Facebook. It is used at home and at work – on the smaller as well as the bigger screen. And, it’s used on weekdays and weekends. An average user spends a whopping 50 minutes on the platform, everyday. Here are the key demographics of the platform.

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The best time to post on the platform for getting more shares was found to be 1 pm, while 3 pm was best for getting the most clicks.

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Track Maven found that 8 pm EST on Thursdays work the best for getting maximum engagement.

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But, another option might be posting on Facebook during the off-peak hours. This could work well, because the competition from other brands will be minimal and your posts will be able to reach the feeds of more fans. Jon Loomer saw positive results, by adopting this strategy with link posts.

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If you aren’t a media brand, then besides posting at an optimal time, you also need to post in moderate quantity. SoTrender found that the organic reach of brand Facebook pages drops with every update.

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Next on the list is Instagram. The platform has a fairly engaged mobile audience that’s mostly composed of adults in the 18-29 age bracket.

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HubSpot infographic found that, since it’s a mobile based platform, people use it all the time. And, you can post on the platform anytime, except between 3 to 4 pm on Monday through Thursday.

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This advice makes more sense, since Instagram has devised an algorithm to reorder posts in their user feeds. Besides the timeliness of the posts, your previous relationship with a brand and the likelihood that you’ll be interested in the content are also now taken into account.

Still, posts during off-work hours would probably get better engagement, especially given that Fortune 500 companies post overwhelmingly during business hours.

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A study by Mavrck, on 1.3 million Instagram posts, found that brands can get higher engagement between 6 am to 12 pm. The reason is that people keep checking their feeds during these awake hours, but the posting frequency is generally low. So, you won’t need to fight for attention.

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Finally, let’s look at Pinterest. Their user base is predominantly female and the users look out for creative inspiration. Businesses with a visual appeal (like food, eCommerce, retail and fashion) can make a killing on the platform.

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You won’t find much success pinning during the work hours. Evenings and weekends work the best. Search Engine Journal found that Pinterest activity peaks at about 9 pm.

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TrackMaven found that 1 am on Fridays is the best time to pin.

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With the results of the studies and demographic info about the platforms, we’ve made good progress on identifying the posting time for your brand. Now, let’s move on to the second important factor.

What is your audience’s location?

Your target audience might have different social media behaviors and browsing habits, based on their location. So, the results of a study conducted in the US may or may not apply to Europe. Wade through studies carefully, while considering the context under which the results hold true.

Also, if you have an international audience, then you’ll need to post 24 hours a day.

On Twitter, you can get away with a higher frequency, if your tweets are value-adding and engaging.

Here are the posting times that Postplanner follows on Twitter. They post 15 times per day.

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Buffer also has an extensive posting schedule (14 times/day on weekdays), spread across the day, to reach most members of their global audience.

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If your major customers are located in two countries across continents, then you should be able to reach both of your audiences with your updates at an appropriate time in their time zone and not while one section of your audience has already gone to bed.

Even when you’re targeting the US audience, you’ve got to touch multiple standard time zones.

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Theoretically, the most inclusive strategy will be to combine Eastern and Central time zones. Together, they represent almost 80% of the U.S. population.

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Similarly, I recommend that you create a posting schedule that takes varying audience time zones into account. If you aren’t too sure about your target audience, then digging into your Google Analytics reports will help.

You might be happy to know tha,t despite your Facebook account using a particular zone, your ads will be served in your target audience’s time zone.

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If you’ve got the budget and resources, then it will also help to have a social media support team in place that responds quickly to user comments.

Buffer has an international audience and they have pulled off building their company working across 10 different time zones.

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Stick with a consistent schedule. Then, pull up your social media analytics data

Remember how I recently told you not to buy into the big data hype and to instead dig into your own small data?

The reality is that there’s no simple checklist that you can use for creating your social media posting schedule. Just because a consumer brand is getting maximum engagement on weekends, it doesn’t necessarily apply to your B2B business. In fact, even the results of the studies on millions of social media posts and hundreds of brands can’t be generalized.

Your best bet is to find the time when your followers are online. And, analyze when your posts receive the maximum engagement.

If you’re starting from scratch, choose any posting schedule and stick with it. The time can be loosely based on the posting times from the studies that I shared earlier. But, I encourage you to keep experimenting, based on your results.

Here are a few tools that will analyze your account and give you some insights into your posting times.

1. Instagram Analytics by Simply Measured

It will generate a free report, showing the best day and time for engagement on your Instagram account. Here are the results that Aaron Lee got.

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2. Optimal Scheduling tool by Buffer

Once you’ve connected your accounts with Buffer, you can use this tool to calculate your posting schedule. You just need to choose an account and the number of times that you want to post. You’ll get a chart showing you the optimal posting times. And, you can also replace your existing schedule by clicking the button below the graph.

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3. Facebook Insights

This is a powerful tool integrated with your Facebook page. By pulling data from this page, I found that the audience at my Nutrition page was visiting at 1 pm and I scheduled most of my updates at the same time.

Conclusion

There’s no one generic time to post on social media platforms that will result in maximum engagement for your posts. You can start with a posting schedule that’s based on how and when the social platform is used (also factoring the user demographics). Maybe you can look at a few studies to understand when other brands get their maximum engagement.

From there, it’s about sticking with a consistent schedule, then pulling up your data and looking at the engagement numbers. Here’s a high-level summary of when the major social media platforms might get maximum engagement (based on studies that we’ve discussed in the article). But, remember to test these times, as they might not apply to your business.

LinkedIn – On weekdays, during the office hours.

Twitter – During commutes in the evening and during afternoon slumps at the office.

Facebook – In the afternoon, on weekdays during office breaks.

Pinterest – Post 8 pm on weekdays and late night on weekends.

Instagram – Anytime on weekdays, except from 3 pm to 4 pm. Experiment with posting between 6 am and 12 pm.

Have you experimented with posting at different times on social media? I would love to hear you about the most engaging time that worked for your audience in the comments below.

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