If you’ve been managing any social media campaign, you’ve probably asked yourself this question a million times. You’ve probably heard that posting times are irrelevant now, with behavior-based algorithms having been rolled out among most platforms. While it is true that behavior-based algorithms have affected optimal posting times, it’s ignorant to think that when you launch your content does not affect your engagement rates, visibility, or the number of impressions generated. Are all hours and minutes equal in the eyes of the algorithm? The short answer is “no.” Let’s talk about why.
Is There Really a “Best” Time to Post?
While most newsfeed algorithms are behavior-based, a few platforms take “recency” into consideration due to social media trends moving so quickly. In-the-moment updates and news are important in gauging whether or not your content should be shown to an audience, so it makes sense that they consider recency.
As you might have guessed, there’s no one “right answer” or a “one-size-fits-all answer” to this question. The most important thing you can do when determining what time of day to launch your content, is to pay attention to your own analytics. Every target audience is different, and beyond that, every platform is different too.
While you can apply some generalizations, like “the best time to post across industries is 9 a.m., when people are just starting work and going online for the first time” (Hubspot), it’s essential to understand that your followers could be online at a different time based on their personal attributes.
If your target audience is mothers with young children, 9 a.m. might not be when they’re active online. They’re likely getting their kids set up for the day, so they may not be on social media until the youngsters go down for their mid-morning nap around 11 a.m. If you’re posting your content at 9 a.m., you could be missing that key audience.
This is where your social media analytics will come into play. You need to monitor your content and pay close attention to when your audience is online and interacting with your content. You may be surprised to find out when your audience is genuinely online.
How Do I Find Out When My Audience is Active on Social Media?
Facebook makes it relatively easy to figure this out. When looking at your Facebook Page, you’ll see a list of options on the left-hand side. First, you’ll select the option titled “Insights.” From there, you’ll select “Posts.” Then, you’ll see a graph at the top of the page detailing when your audience is most active. For those that are visual learners, here’s a step-by-step:
Based on the data provided above, we can see a few key points:
- Our audience is most active on Sundays, Thursdays, and Fridays.
- Our audience is most active between the times of 5 a.m. and 8 a.m.
- Our audience is also reasonably active between the times of 9 p.m. and 11 p.m.
After looking at this data, we should optimize our content to launch between 5 a.m. and 8 a.m. throughout the week. If we wanted to switch things up, we could also launch our content between 9 p.m. and 11 p.m. This will help our campaign connect with most of our audience as it may be different target audiences who are active in the evening hours versus the engaged audience in the morning hours.
When looking at your Instagram profile’s main screen (hint: make sure your profile is converted to a Business Profile), click on the “Insights” button. From there, ensure you’re looking at a 30-day overview as 7-day analytics can provide a false positive or a false negative. The more data you’re taking into consideration, the better. Select “See All” next to the “Your Audience” section. Then, scroll down to the bottom, and you’ll be able to see the Hours or Days your audience is most active. Here’s a step-by-step breakdown for my visual learners:
In reviewing the analytics from our Instagram profile, here are a few key takeaways:
- In terms of daily activity, our audience is pretty even across the board. There isn’t a specific day that stands out significantly.
- Our audience is most active between the hours of 12 p.m. – 3 p.m. across the board.
When optimizing our Instagram content, it would serve us well to launch our content within that time frame each day. This will capture the bulk of our audience. In looking at the last graphic, it appears our audience is equally as active around 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. as well, so if we wanted to test our strategy against itself, we could choose one of those times to post as well. Like our Facebook strategy, it’s essential to consider multiple audience groups and determine which posting strategy captures your most active audience.
This is just two out of the many social media platforms that exist now, so you can imagine it takes a significant amount of time and effort to track peak activity times across multiple platforms. As an agency, we have access to various tools that allow us to compile, track, and present this data to you, along with a comprehensive social media marketing strategy that takes all of this (and more) into consideration. If you’re looking to streamline your social media strategy, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us at 321-255-0900 to get started with your unique social media strategy today.