One of the central questions that brands face on social media is figuring out the best times to post on various platforms, so that their content receives maximum exposure. There are several studies and tools that exist to calculate the optimum posting time – some of these tools are Crowdbooster, SocialFlow and 14 Blocks. These tools typically analyse a page’s followers or fans and calculate when the maximum number will be online and active.
Each of the plots below show the hours of the day, starting from midnight, along the X-axis; and the days of the week, starting with Monday, along the Y-axis. The darkest blocks show the time when links get maximum views., and the lightest when they have minimum views.
Based on this, the best time to post content on Twitter is early afternoon – 1pm to 3pm on weekdays, Monday through Thursday. Links get minimal exposure after 8pm on weekdays, and almost none after 3pm on Fridays through the weekend.
Facebook traffic peaks mid-week on Wednesday. The best time to post is during 1pm and 4pm on weekdays. Early mornings, evenings and weekends are low traffic times.
Tumblr has very different patterns – here traffic is low during the day and picks up post 4pm, with 7pm to 10pm being the best time to post. Weekend evenings are also a high traffic time, completely converse to Facebook and Twitter.
It is important to note however, that merely posting between these times will not guarantee that a link will get more clicks, as it will also have more content to compete with for the fans’ attention.
Another thing to consider is how long after a link is shared do we consider it ‘active’? This can be evaluated by calculating the half life of a link i.e. the amount of time at which a link will receive half of the clicks it will ever receive after it has reached its peak.
While this time will necessarily be different depending on the type of content, a bitly study shows that, on an average, the half life of a link on Twitter is 2.8 hours, on Facebook it is 3.2 hours and via direct sources like email or IM clients it is 3.4 hours.
This also concurs with a recent study by Edgerank about the average life span of a Facebook post being 3 hours and 7 minutes. As per the study, a post receives the maximum amount of comments and likes within the three hours of its posting and then the engagement then begins to dwindle.
While these studies and tools help in providing a general idea about how content is perceived by users, the results differ across verticals and domains, and are dependent on a page’s own fans and followers.
What strategies do you, as a brand manager, use to calculate the ideal posting time? Do these insights agree with your experience on different links? Share your thoughts with us.