I posted in February regarding the ‘optimal’ time to publish a post on Facebook but feel the need to re-address it. It always bothers me as a strategist is to see experts (or anyone for that matter) telling business owners what times are best and worst for posting. Why? Your business is unique and therefore it stands to reason that generalizations will serve no value other than a broad starting point.
The right time to post is when YOUR fans/clients/customers are active and the only way to know that is to build your audience and leverage analytics and insights to know. Going a step further, that time is always in flux. Your fan base grows, their online habits changes, when they’re active changes, their interests change, their needs change so your optimal posting time changes.
Look at your Facebook insights. Under ‘Post’ and ‘When Your Fans Are Online’ you’ll see a blue plotted graph below a bar graph. The bar graph provides you stats on how many of your fans are active and on what days. The plotted graph provides the times they’re online. If you simply look at the plotted graph and determine 7:00 AM is most active you’re missing a big piece. Mouse over the bar graph and you’ll see a different picture. The plotted graph is based on an overall week. Each day has its own optimal posting time.
So now that you know when your fans are active you know exactly when to post – or do you?
There really is no ‘Best Time or Day’ To Post On Facebook
I posted a link with added personal content Monday at 7:00 AM and on Tuesday at 7:54 PM. Aside from Saturday (a day most experts feel is poor for engagement and reach) Monday and Tuesday are my most active days with Tuesday only being negligibly better. My Monday post was timed well given it was just before the peak of activity for my fans and fan activity remains consistent for most of the day after that peak while the Tuesday post was published AFTER peak activity and on a sharp drop off of all activity.
Tuesday’s post in 2 hours nearly doubled the reach and more than doubled the engagement of the Monday post (and at 15 hours active had more than 5 times the reach). Again, the post content and structure was nearly identical. While the actual content may have contributed to the reach when I posted should have meant far fewer eyes seeing it.
Just to further muddy the waters I posted an image with a link the previous Thursday (a weaker day in terms of fan activity) and at one of the WORST times I could post based on my insights YET reach was 30% greater than Monday’s post and engagement was more than double with the majority of that engagement being post clicks.
The bottom line:
My worst performing post was published at the optimal time on the optimal day based on my insights and my best performing post was published at worst possible time and day.
Comparing my results to the chart below from Time.com and posted April 23rd 2014…..clearly my best performing post was on of the worst posting days. So how can anyone say there is a perfect time to post?
Why is this the case?
- Your insights can ONLY provide data based on your fans. While your page will not show up in the newsfeed of someone who hasn’t liked your page, it can still be seen. The page is public. I have spoken with a number of people in trying to see why they choose to like (or not) a page. Part of what I found out – they do not want the posts in their feed but do regularly go to the page to see what is posted. Simply put that can be a large audience you miss if you only post when your fans are active.
- Social platforms are driven by social behavior. Rarely is that predictable and it’s certainly not stable. We may be creatures of habit yet we’re always seem to be off our schedules.
- Specifically to Facebook, what shows in a fan’s newsfeed and why is constantly changing. It seems quite logical that a perfect post on the worst day could be more visible at the worst possible posting time whereas a poor post at the best time could be ‘hidden’.
- While generalizations seem to hold true on other platforms, proper use of hashtags can drive views well outside of the posting parameters due to search (again – good content will be found) and many, like myself, have specific influencers whose profiles we’ll visit regardless of seeing their content in our feeds. With Google+ circles and Twitter lists, fans and followers can see the content they want when they want and from whom they want. Engagement later can skew post visibility.
- Links back to social media posts from blogs like this one also bring older posts current. While this may not figure into the calculation of best posting time, your post can still see good reach and engagement even when posted well outside of the ‘optimal time or day’ to post.
The take away:
There is no universal, optimal, perfect or best time or day to post to Facebook or any social media platform. Those ‘times’ merely provide a guide for what trends as the best times to post but that’s as far as it goes. Even following your own insights, which are constantly changing, doesn’t guarantee optimal posting times since that data only reflects a potentially small percentage of who sees your content.
My advice in the end:
What ultimately drives reach and engagement is creating a mix (links, images, videos and text) of high quality content posted throughout the week. Be consistent in adding content, be different in when it’s posted. Posting it at varying times ensures the opportunity to reach a greater swatch of your fan base so experiment. Don’t get bogged down in when to post – just post quality content consistently.
Have you found your best posting times to correspond to what the studies tell us? Have you seen better performing posts published at what should be poor times?
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