BEST TIMES TO POST ON FACEBOOK
This is a bit of a follow-up to this post I wrote explaining why you should always be wary of articles or studies claiming to know the best times to post on social media. The feedback I got was "Great points - but I still don't know when the best time is for *me* to post." So I thought I'd do a quick tutorial on how you can figure this out for yourself.
I'm sticking to Facebook only for this post since the algorithm can have such a big effect on timing, and to be honest, it's the network that you guys ask the most questions about! And I want to point out that this post is for people who have been posting on a regular basis but think their posts should be doing better. If you only post once a month, this article is not going to help - what you need to do is start posting more and experiment with posting at different times of the day.
Note: as your audience grows and evolves, so does their behaviour online. If you find out that your best time to post on Facebook is Fridays at 10:30am, you can't then post on that day/time for the rest of eternity. You will need to check your stats periodically and adjust your posting schedule if needed.
Hands down, Facebook has the most advanced analytics of any social media networking platform. Which means that most of the work of figuring out the best time to post is actually quite easy - phew! There are 2 parts to picking the best times and dates to post: when your followers are online, and when your followers are engaging (because sometimes they are not the same!).
Bonus: download the worksheet to help you follow along, and repeat this process on a monthly basis!
Figuring out when your followers are online
Go to Insights > Posts. You'll see when your page fans have been online for the past week. Most people will see either a bell curve or a whale. If you have an international audience your curve might be fairly flat.
By default, the times shown are an average. If you hover over each day of the week you will get the stats for just that day.
Take note of the days/times when you have the most followers online - this is when you want to post.
Tip: if your audience peaks at 12pm, try to time your post for *just before* so that they will come across it when scrolling down their newsfeed.
Here is how I would interpret some of these numbers:
Figuring out when your followers are engaged
If you're wondering why reach and engagement might be different, consider this: my followers are online during the day and peak during mid-morning and mid-afternoon breaks. However, I don't get a lot of shares or comments in the mornings - it's pretty much likes only. Comments and shares tend to come in the afternoon, especially on my blog posts. My theory? People don't have time in the morning to stop and read or absorb so they can engage. But in the afternoon they are willing to take a bit more of a break. So my lesson? Post blog articles after lunch, between 1:30-3:30pm on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays.
Note: sometimes engagement has more to do with the *type* of content you're posting, so make sure to note that as well (i.e. if your followers are engaging the most with photos no matter what time you post, then fall back on when your followers are online - and post more photos!)
This step involves a little bit more work because their isn't a handy graph for you to look at.
You should still be on Insights > Posts. Scroll down to the 'All Posts Published' section.
By default, the posts will be in descending chronological order. We want to look at the past few weeks to see when people have been engaging - don't go back any farther than that.
Note: if you have boosted posts, you can't include them in your data because you can't sort out what engagement was organic and what was due to paying.
Look at the posts that get the most engagement overall and see if they match up with when your followers are online.
If they match up, that's great!
If they don't, you will need to do a little experimenting. Check to see if your most engaging posts are a specific type and then post that kind of content when most of your followers are online. If your engagement goes up even more, you know your best time to post is when the most people are online. If your engagement stays the same or goes down, you know your best time to post is when people are engaging.
Download the accompanying worksheet below!