When, exactly, is the best time to post on social media?

It’s an age-old question. You’ve spent hours (or months) researching, brainstorming, creating, editing, and polishing this new post (or campaign), and now it’s time to unveil it to the world.

But wait. What’s the optimal time? Are all hours or minutes equal in the eyes of the algorithm?

No, they’re not.

Bonus: Download a free, customizable social media schedule template to easily plan and organize all your posts in advance.

Is there really a best time to post on social media?

Because newsfeed algorithms (especially the Facebook algorithm and Instagram algorithm) consider “recency” as a major ranking signal, posting your content when your followers are online is one of the simplest ways to improve your organic reach.

This brings us to the bad news: there’s no single standard “best time to post on social media.” Everyone and their uncle has done a study on industry benchmarks—but the real source of truth always comes back to your own data on your own followers.

Which means that the best time to post on social media is different for every platform and every brand.

But, with the right tools, it’s staggeringly easy to figure out the best time to post for your social media channels.

First, we’ll tell you how our social media team at Hootsuite found their best time to post on every social network—an audience of roughly 8 million followers. Then we’ll show you how to find yours.

The best time to post on Facebook

The best time to post to Facebook is at 6:15 AM and 12:15 PM PST on weekdays, for the Hootsuite social media team.

We chatted with Hootsuite Social Marketing Strategist Brayden Cohen to find out how the pros calculate an optimal posting schedule.

When it comes to Facebook, past performance and follower activity are both important.

Facebook fans online per hour

Source: Hootsuite’s Social Team

This heatmap from Hootsuite Analytics shows that the largest volume of followers arrive on Facebook around noon PST (3PM EST) every weekday. According to this, you might think Cohen would be posting at noon PST.

But that’s not the whole story. Once we take past post performance into account, it turns out that for Hootsuite’s channels, the best time to post to Facebook is at 6:15 AM and 12:15 PM PST on weekdays.

“These times are most effective for us, because this is when people tend to have the biggest gaps in their schedule and are available to check social,” says Cohen.

“It’s best to post first thing in the morning because this is when people are catching up on their newsfeeds. Lunchtime is always great because it’s when people tend to have the biggest gaps in their schedules. Just after working hours are effective too, because people are checking out what they missed over the day.”

 

– Brayden Cohen, Social Media Strategist

Key Facebook statistics to keep in mind when posting:

For more facts, check out the latest Facebook statistics and Facebook demographics.

The best time to post on Instagram

The best time to post to Instagram is anytime between 8 AM-12 PM or 4-5 PM PST, for the Hootsuite social media team.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Instagram’s algorithm has a lot in common with Facebook’s. That is, recency is a key ranking signal. Which means that audience behaviour is, again, an important factor in posting times.

Taking a look at when your followers are online can help get you started.

Instagram followers online per hour

Source: Hootsuite’s Social Team

However, online activity is not the last word in strategy.

“With Instagram, I use past performance as my guiding star, and then I review when my audience is online as a second opinion. From there, if my content isn’t performing well, I’ll test different times to post to see if that changes reach and engagement.”

 

– Brayden Cohen, Social Media Strategist

For Hootsuite’s social channels, this means that most of our posting times line up to early morning or lunch time in PST. In EST, that’s mid-morning (getting to the office) or evening (logging off the computer and getting on their smartphone).

Key Instagram statistics to keep in mind when posting:

View all the latest Instagram statistics here (and catch up on Instagram demographics while you’re at it.)

The best time to post on Twitter

The best time to post to Twitter is weekdays between 6-9 AM PST, for the Hootsuite social media team.

According to Social Engagement Specialist Nick Martin, click-throughs are the most important metric on Twitter, and Hootsuite’s analytics are clear. Tweeting during UK and East Coast office hours drives the best results in terms of clicks and engagement.

Even on weekends, mornings are still best, but he schedules posts slightly later.

“People are getting started on their day. They’re taking the morning to get caught up on articles, scroll social media for news, and get their brains ready for work. Later in the afternoon people are heads-down on projects or in meetings, and they have less time to engage.”

 

– Nick Martin, Social Engagement Specialist

However, Martin says that with Twitter, it’s important to be mindful that analytics focusing on the “best time to post”—i.e., whenever the most followers are online—can neglect people in other time zones.

“It’s important to sprinkle content around the clock,” Martin says, “especially if you’re a brand with a global audience. Folks in Australia are having the same problems that social media marketers on the East Coast have. If you’re from Australia, New Zealand, India, or anywhere that isn’t the UK or North America: we see you, and we’re trying to get helpful content into your feed at a time that works for you.”

To reach Hootsuite’s global audience, Martin schedules tweets at all hours—not just the “best” ones—and also creates ad campaigns to boost posts targeting other time zones and countries.

Key Twitter statistics to keep in mind when posting:

Here’s our full list of 2021 Twitter statistics (and Twitter demographics, too.)

The best time to post on LinkedIn

The best time to post to LinkedIn is weekdays between 8-11 AM PST, for the Hootsuite social media team.

Iain Beable, Hootsuite’s Social Marketing Strategist for Europe, Middle East and Africa, handles Hootsuite’s LinkedIn presence. He tells us that while he’s traditionally seen better performance during mornings, lunch and evenings, numbers have been a bit more sporadic and spread out over the day because of the pandemic.

“The majority of our audience is in North America, so I tend to plan posts around early morning PST,” Beable says. “That catches people in EMEA in the early evening, which seems to bring us the best performance overall. We post at weekends, too, but at a reduced cadence, and later in the morning. I’ve actually been seeing improved engagement on Sunday evenings, too.”

Beable says that as far as post scheduling strategy goes, “For LinkedIn, it’s very much a data-led, test-and-learn approach to find out what works. Our schedule is mainly based on what has performed well in the past, and testing different times to see what works best.”

Beable adds that in his experience with the LinkedIn algorithm, recency is less of a consideration that quality, relevance, and trending content.

“I can post something UK lunchtime, which gets maybe a little engagement, and then as soon as North America is online, hours later, suddenly engagement goes through the roof, because the algorithm knows it’s relevant to those users. Usually our audience will still see a post near the top of their feed even if it’s a few hours old.”

 

– Iain Beable, Social Marketing Strategist, EMEA

Key LinkedIn statistics to keep in mind when posting:

Here’s the full list of 2021 LinkedIn statistics (and LinkedIn demographics, too.)

How to find the best time to post on social media

Look at when your audience is most active online

Many social media algorithms prioritize recency. Why? Because people care about what’s new—especially given how frequently we check our feeds these days.

Posting when your followers are online is one of the easiest ways to work with (not against) both the Facebook and Instagram algorithms. By predicting when your followers are likely to be browsing their feeds, you maximize the chances that your content will reach and connect with them.

Twitter and LinkedIn, alas, do not make audience activity information available to users, brands, or even your friendly neighbourhood analytics dashboard. For these platforms, researching your audience’s priorities and behaviours is crucial.

Meanwhile, for your Facebook and Instagram strategies, knowing when your followers are online is as simple as looking at your analytics. Hootsuite’s Best Time to Publish feature, for instance, provides a heatmap of the hours and days your followers are active.

ootsuite’s Best Time to Publish follower activity heatmap

The tool helps you use data to experiment, by suggesting optimal times to post that your brand hasn’t tried in the past 30 days.

Look at your top-performing posts from the past

You’re already optimizing your content to match your social media performance goals. When it comes time to decide when to post that content, we recommend taking an equally data-driven approach.

The first step is to take a look at your analytics tools, or social media reports, and zero in on your more successful posts for a given metric. The posts that did the best in terms of:

  • Awareness (i.e., posts that have high impressions)
  • Engagement (i.e., posts that earned impressive engagement rates)
  • Sales/Traffic (i.e.,posts that attracted a lot of clicks)

Next, take a look at what time of day or week you posted successful content, and see what kind of patterns form.

Pro Tip: Hootsuite Analytics’ Best Time to Publish feature pulls your posting history automatically, without any data-crunching, and suggests times to post in order to maximize your ROI.

Bonus: Download a free, customizable social media schedule template to easily plan and organize all your posts in advance.

Get the template now!

You can also choose to view your best times to post based on impressions, engagements, or link clicks (most tools only show you impressions).

Hootsuite Analytics best time to post on social media tool

Check out the competition

Check your competitors’ feeds to see what they’re up to. Take a survey of their high-performing posts (or even do a full social competitive analysis) and see what patterns crop up, or perhaps reverse-engineer your competitors’ strategies.

Here at Hootsuite, for instance, we’ve learned to avoid publishing on the hour, because that’s when a lot of brands post. Instead we post on the :15 or :45 mark to give our content a little breathing room.

It’s worth keeping an ear to the ground in your industry, whether you learn tactics worth emulating, or just spot some pitfalls to avoid. (You might even consider adding publishing schedules to your ongoing social listening endeavours.)

Post in your audience’s time zone, not yours

If you’re aiming to catch people during their bleary-eyed morning bed-scroll, posting at 6AM makes perfect sense. Of course, if your target audience is made up of European innovation executives, make sure you schedule that post for 6AM Central European Time (or even earlier if you want to make sure you catch Eastern Europe, too.).

At Hootsuite, our channels strive to catch people across North America (PST through EST) by posting in the morning or early afternoon, Pacific Time. For channels that also want to catch the UK, the earlier in the morning, the better.

Meanwhile, brands with a substantial audience in a specific region might consider creating a separate handle for that audience. (This may have the added benefit of allowing you to post in a target language, too.)

Another option for those of you with a global customer base is publishing content around the clock. (In which case, we definitely recommend a social media scheduler.)

Test and optimize

At a certain point, you’ve done as much due diligence as you can, and it’s time to smash that publish (or schedule) button and see what happens. But what happens if results aren’t what you’d hoped?

Some systematic A/B tests (where you post the same content at different times in order to see which time earns the best results) can be illuminating.

As Nick Martin says, “One of our mottos is “Always Be Testing”—so we are continuously testing for multiple variables, whether that’s the images we choose, copy, or what time we post at.”

Keep monitoring for changes

Social media is always changing, and so are the people who use it. For example, the exodus to remote work over the course of 2020 has resulted in more frequent social media use.

Habits have shifted from checking feeds during lunch to checking between zoom meetings. If your audience is changing, your strategy might need to change too.

Here at Hootsuite, for instance, we don’t actually change the times we post that often. Maybe once a quarter, according to Cohen.

But at the same time, he adds: “We look at our top-performing posts weekly to determine if there is any data in there that can provide us with insights to rework our strategy or posting cadence.”

Martin adds: “For Twitter, we check our timing analytics monthly, but they rarely shift, and when they do it isn’t dramatic. That said, we definitely review the best time to post for time-constrained campaigns. For example, we found that International Women’s Day is very popular in the UK, even more than it is in North America, so we shifted our publishing cadence earlier, to hit 9AM-12PM in the UK.”

The key is to think of time as an important, but variable, factor as you continue to optimize your social media scheduling strategy.

Key takeaways about the best time to post on social media

In conclusion, there’s no failsafe universal best time to post on social media. Your brand’s optimal time is as unique as your audience, and different for every channel.

But with the right data, optimizing your posting schedule can drive real results and improve your social ROI.

  • For Twitter and LinkedIn, pay close attention to past post performance
  • For Instagram and Facebook, look at past post performance and when your followers are online

Find out your best times to post on social media using Hootsuite Analytics’ Best Time to Publish feature. Optimize your schedule based on when you’re most likely to get the most:

  • Impressions;
  • Engagements; or
  • Link clicks

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