Timing is everything on social media. You only want to send messages when people are around to see them. And a larger audience means more opportunities to boost engagement, drive traffic, and gain potential new followers and customers.
So, when are the best times to post on social media?
That depends on the audience you’re trying to target (who they are and where they’re located), the networks you’re using, your goals, and the kind of content you share. But while there is no perfect time to post, there are resources that can help you find the optimal times.
The best time to post on Twitter
Despite Twitter’s move to a quasi-chronological timeline, the average half-life of a Tweet isn’t long. According to an analysis by Wiselytics, it’s only 24 minutes—nearly four times shorter than the 90-minute half-life of a Facebook post.
“For Facebook, a post reaches 75 percent of its potential engagement in five hours. A median Tweet reaches this 75 percent mark in less than three hours,” Wiselytics says.
This relatively small window of opportunity for engagement means your Tweets need to get out in front of as many eyeballs as possible—when the largest portion of your target audience is using Twitter.
Knowing when that is will take a bit of trial and error (more on that later), but to get you started, here’s what @Hootsuite’s own data suggests based on an analysis of over 40,000 tweets:
- The best time to post on Twitter is at 3 p.m. Monday to Friday.
“As a B2B organization, we find the best times to Tweet are between 12 p.m. and 3 p.m. on weekdays, with the highest amount of clicks and Retweets occurring at 3 p.m.,” explains Hootsuite social media marketing specialist Amanda Wood.
But again, this will differ depending on your audience, location, and content strategy. The Huffington Post, for example, says 5 p.m., 12 p.m., and 6 p.m., are the best times for Retweets, while 12 p.m. and 6 p.m. also deliver higher click-through rates. Kissmetrics says weekdays at 5 p.m. are most effective, and Hubspot came to the same conclusion as we did: 12 p.m. and 3 p.m. Monday to Friday is best.
You should use these times as a starting point, test different posting schedules and measure the results. Here are three things to consider as you go about finding the best time to post:
1. Location matters. If you are trying to reach a global audience, create a Twitter handle for each region and use a social media management tool to run them all from the same platform. Be sure to create social media reports to track when you get the most engagement for each Twitter handle.
2. Use the right tool. There are numerous tools out there to help you find the best time to Tweet, such as Hootsuite’s AutoSchedule which chooses a time based on when your Tweets have performed the best. You can AutoSchedule from both the dashboard and the Hootlet extension.
3. Know your audience. How old are they? Where do they live? What do they do for work? What’s their commute like? What do they do in their free time? Answer those questions and it will be much easier to nail down the best times to post on Twitter, as well as every other social network. Our how-to blog post on creating audience personas, and the guide below will help you do that.
Bonus: Download a free guide that reveals how to increase social media engagement with better audience research, sharper customer targeting, and Hootsuite’s easy-to-use social media software.
The best time to post to Facebook
Because of the complicated News Feed algorithm, getting your timing right on Facebook isn’t easy.
But despite the non-chronological functionality of the News Feed, our social marketing team has discovered publishing times that do indeed yield a higher amount of Likes, comments, shares, and click-throughs:
- The best time to post on Facebook is between 12 p.m. and 3 p.m. Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday.
- And on Saturday and Sunday between 12 p.m. and 1 p.m.
“For us, Tuesdays are a bit behind other weekdays in terms of Facebook engagement,” Hootsuite social media marketing specialist Amanda Wood explains. “But 12 p.m. to 3 p.m. is still the most effective window on that day.”
Hootsuite’s social team also sees lower engagement on the weekend, but there is a spike in click-throughs on posts published between 12 p.m. and 1 p.m.
The best time to post on Instagram
Instagram posts appear in feeds “based on the likelihood [the audience] will be interested in the content.” That means that photos and videos with lots of comments and Likes have a better chance of appearing near the top of your followers’ home streams.
But even though content no longer appears in a strictly chronological order, you still want to post on Instagram when you have the best chance to hit a large audience out of the gate.
To do this, think about your target persona and what their typical day looks like. Are they the type of person who would check Instagram as soon as they wake up? If so, when would that be? Where do they live and work? Also consider what they do on their commutes and in their free time.
Hootsuite has used this strategy to test and measure various posting times. What did we come up with?
- The best time to post on Instagram is from 12 p.m. to 1 p.m. Monday to Friday.
“There’s no doubt our community scrolls through Instagram during their lunch hour,” Hootsuite social media marketing specialist Amanda Wood explains. “We find that time also works best on the weekends, but since we are a B2B business, our Instagram strategy is weekday-focused.”
Boston-based marketing firm Mavrk suggests users consider posting between 6 a.m. and 12 p.m. Their analysis of 1.3 million Instagram posts found that while posting volume is relatively low in the morning, people are still using their smartphones to regularly check their feeds. In this scenario you would have a good-size audience and less content to compete with.
Other things to consider
When it comes to the best times to post on any social network, you also need to think about timezones. If your target audience spans many, that will impact your results. You might be based in the PST timezone, but your followers are located in the EST and GMT timezones. In this case you might find that 8 a.m. PST works best because it hits the workday in both the other regions.
And if you are a B2C organization, you may find that posts published on the weekends do better, where here at Hootsuite, as a B2B company, we get the best results from weekday working hours.
So use these times as a starting point, but always be testing and measuring results to find what works best for you.
With Hootsuite’s scheduling capabilities and built-in analytics tool, you can easily find the best time to post on social media.
This is an updated post that was first published in April 2016. With files from Michael Aynsley.