When 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). Now is the time to introduce him to the world.
But wait. What is the optimal time? Are all hours or minutes the same in the eyes of the algorithm?
No they are not.
Bonus: Download a free, customizable social media schedule template to easily plan and organize all your posts in advance.
Since newsfeed algorithms (especially the Facebook algorithm and the Instagram algorithm) rate newer posts higher than older ones, Posting your content when your followers are online is one of the easiest ways to increase your organic reach.
Which brings us to the bad news: there is no single "best time to post on social media" standard. Everyone and their uncle did an industry benchmark study – but the real source of truth is always your own data on your own followers.
This means that the best time to post on social media will be different for each platform and brand.
However, with the right tools, it is amazingly easy to determine the best time to post your social media channels.
First, let's tell you how our social media team at Hootsuite found the best time to post on any 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 on Facebook is at 6:15 a.m. and 12:15 p.m. PST on weekdays for the Hootsuite social media team.
We spoke to Hootsuite social marketing strategist Brayden Cohen to find out how the pros work out an optimal release schedule.
When it comes to Facebook, past performance and follower activity are both important.
Source: Hootsuites Social Team
This Hootsuite Analytics heat map shows that the most followers hit Facebook around 12:00 p.m. PST (3:00 p.m. EST) each day of the week. So you'd think Cohen would post at 12:00 p.m. PST.
But that's not the whole story. When we factor in post-release performance, it turns out that for Hootsuite's channels, the The best time to post on Facebook is at 6:15 am on weekdays and 12:15 pm PST.
"These times are the most effective for us as people tend to have the largest gaps in their schedule and are available to review social networks," says Cohen.
"It's best to post first thing in the morning because that's when people get their news feeds." Lunchtime is always great because people have the biggest gaps in their schedules. Even after work, they are effective because people review what they have missed during the day. "
- Brayden Cohen, Social Media Strategist
Important Facebook Stats To Consider When Posting:
Check out the latest Facebook stats and Facebook demographics for more facts.
The best time to post on Instagram
The best time to post on Instagram is anytime between 8 a.m. and 12 p.m. or between 4 p.m. and 5 p.m. PST, for the Hootsuite social media team.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, Instagram's algorithm has a lot in common with Facebook's. That means that being up-to-date is an important ranking signal. This means that audience behavior is, in turn, an important factor in release times.
A look at when your followers are online can get you started.
Source: Hootsuites Social Team
However, online activity is not the last word in the strategy.
“On Instagram, I use previous achievements as a guiding star and then check when my audience is online as a second opinion. If my content isn't working well, I test different times from there to see if that changes reach and engagement. "
- Brayden Cohen, Social Media Strategist
For Hootsuite's social channels, this means that most of our booking times go through early morning or noon on PST. In EST, this is in the morning (in the office) or in the evening (log off the computer and get on the smartphone).
Key Instagram Stats To Consider When Posting:
Check out the latest Instagram stats here (and catch up on Instagram demographics while you're at it)
The best time to post on Twitter
The best time to post on Twitter is between 6 a.m. and 9 a.m. PST on weekdays. for the Hootsuite social media team.
Social engagement specialist Nick Martin said click-throughs are the most important metric on Twitter, and Hootsuite's analytics are clear. Tweeting during office hours in the UK and East Coast has the best results in terms of clicks and engagement.
Even on the weekend, mornings are still best, but they schedule posts a little later.
“People start on their day. They take the morning time to catch up on articles, check for news on social media, and get their brains ready for work. Later in the afternoon, people have problems with projects or meetings and have less time to get involved. "
- Nick Martin, specialist in social engagement
However, Martin says that on Twitter, it's important to be aware that analytics that focus on “the best time to post,” when most of the followers are online, can neglect people in other time zones.
"It's important to distribute content around the clock," says Martin, "especially if you're a brand with a global audience. The folks in Australia have the same problems as the social media marketers on the east coast. If you are." from Australia, New Zealand, India, or any country other than the UK or North America, we'll see you and try to add helpful content to your feed at a time that's convenient for you.
To reach Hootsuite's global audience, Martin plans tweets at any time – not just the "best" ones – and creates promotional campaigns to improve posts that target other time zones and countries.
Key Twitter Stats To Consider When Posting:
Here is our full list of Twitter stats for 2021 (and Twitter demographics too).
The best time to post on LinkedIn
The best time to post on LinkedIn is between 8am and 11am PST on weekdays, for the Hootsuite social media team.
Iain Beable, Hootsuite Social Marketing Strategist for Europe, Middle East and Africa, manages Hootsuite's LinkedIn presence. He tells us that he traditionally saw better performance in the morning, at noon and in the evening, but the numbers were a little more sporadic due to the pandemic and spread out over the day.
"The majority of our audience is in North America, so I'm more likely to plan to post around early morning PST," says Beagle. “That catches the people in EMEA in the early evening, which seems to be the best overall performance. We also post on weekends, but with a reduced cadence and later in the morning. I also saw improved engagement on Sunday evening. "
According to Beable, the post-scheduling strategy for LinkedIn is a data-driven, test-and-learn approach to finding out what works. Our schedule is mostly based on past performance and testing different times to see what works best. "
Beable adds that in his experience With the LinkedIn algorithm, topicality plays less of a role than quality, relevance and trend content.
"I can post something in the UK at lunchtime that might get a little engagement. Once North America is online, that engagement suddenly goes over the top 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
Important LinkedIn Stats To Consider When Posting:
Here is the full list of LinkedIn stats for 2021 (and LinkedIn demographics as well).
See when your audience is most active online
Many social media algorithms prioritize being up to date. Why? Because people care about what's new – especially considering how often we check our feeds these days.
Posting when your followers are online is one of the easiest ways to work with the Facebook and Instagram algorithms (not against). By predicting when your followers are likely to browse their feeds, you will maximize the chances of your content reaching and connecting with them.
Unfortunately, Twitter and LinkedIn don't provide information about audience activity to users, brands, or even your friendly neighborhood analysis dashboard. For these platforms, researching your audience's priorities and behaviors is vital.
For your Facebook and Instagram strategies, knowing when your followers are online is as easy as looking at your analytics. For example, Hootsuite's Best Post Time feature provides a heat map of the hours and days that your followers are active.
The tool helps you experiment with data by suggesting optimal times to post that your brand hasn't tried in the last 30 days.
Check out your top performing posts from the past
You're already tweaking your content to meet your social media performance goals. When it comes to deciding when to publish this content, we recommend an equally data-driven approach.
The first step is to take a look at your analytics tools or social media reports and focus on your more successful posts for a particular metric. The posts that performed best on:
- Awareness (i.e. posts with high impressions)
- Engagement (i.e. posts that have had impressive engagement rates)
- Sales / traffic (i.e. posts that attracted a lot of clicks)
Next, look at what time of the day or week you posted successful content and see what kind of patterns are forming.
Pro tip: Hootsuite Analytics' Best Time to Publish feature automatically gets your publishing history without data processing and suggests publication times to maximize your ROI.
You can also view your best post times based on impressions, engagements, or link clicks (most tools only show impressions).
Look at the competition
Check your competitors' feeds to see what they're up to. Take a survey of their high performing jobs (or even do a full social competition analysis) and see what patterns emerge or potentially revise your competitors' strategies.
Here at Hootsuite, for example, we've learned to avoid hourly posting because that's when a lot of brands post. Instead, we post on the brand: 15 or: 45 to give our content a little room to breathe.
It's worth listening to your industry, whether you're learning tactics worth emulating or just discovering some pitfalls to avoid. (You might even consider adding release plans to your ongoing social listening efforts.)
Post in your audience's time zone, not yours
If you're trying to catch people bleary-eyed during their morning scroll, it makes perfect sense to post at 6 a.m. If your target audience is made up of European innovation managers, schedule this post for 6 a.m. Central European time (or even earlier if you want to make sure you reach Eastern Europe as well).
At Hootsuite, our channels strive to catch people across North America (PST through EST) by posting Pacific Time in the morning or early afternoon. For broadcasters who want to reach Great Britain: the earlier in the morning, the better.
In the meantime, brands with a sizeable audience in a particular region might consider creating a separate handle for that audience. (This can have the added benefit of allowing you to post in a target language as well.)
Another option for those of you with a global customer base is 24/7 content publishing. (In this case, we definitely recommend a social media scheduler.)
Test and optimize
At some point you have taken as much care as possible. It's time to smash that publish (or schedule) button and see what happens. But what if the results aren't what you expected?
Some systematic A / B testing (where you post the same content at different times to see what time it gets the best results) can be insightful.
As Nick Martin says, "One of our mottos is 'Always test', so we continuously test for several variables whether these are the images we select, copy, or what time we publish."
Keep monitoring for changes
Social media is always changing, as are the people who use it. For example, the exodus to remote working over the course of 2020 has resulted in increased use of social media.
Habits have changed from checking feeds during lunch to checking between Zoom meetings. As your audience changes, your strategy may need to change too.
Here at Hootsuite, for example, we don't change the times we post so often. Maybe once a quarter, says Cohen.
At the same time, he adds, "We review our top performing posts weekly to see if they have any data that could give us insights into revising our strategy or releasing cadence."
Martin adds, "On Twitter, we review our timing analyzes monthly, but they rarely shift, and when they do, it's not dramatic." However, we're definitely reviewing the best time to post for limited-time campaigns. For example, we've found that International Women's Day is very popular in the UK, even more so than in North America. That's why we've moved our release cadence to 9am to 12pm in the UK earlier. "
The key is to view time as an important but variable factor as you further optimize your social media planning strategy.
In conclusion, there is no such thing as a failsafe universal best time to post on social media. Your brand's optimal time is as unique as your audience and different for each channel.
However, with the right data, optimizing your release schedule can produce real results and improve your social ROI.
- Pay close attention to past performance on Twitter and LinkedIn
- See the performance of previous posts and when your followers are online on Instagram and Facebook
Find out the best time to post to social media by using the Hootsuite Analytics "Best Time to Post" feature. Optimize your schedule based on when you're most likely to get the best:
- Engagements; or
- Link clicks
Take the guesswork out of when to post on social media Hootsuites best time to post.