As a new social media manager, you might ask yourself
What is the best time to post on Social Media?
As a seasoned social media manager, you should ask yourself this question each time you have a new client or industry to dive into.
It certainly is a loaded question and there really isn’t one best answer.
What we do know is this.
Social media marketing evolves. Social media platforms change. What works one day, might not work the next. As a social media professional, you should keep learning, testing and experimenting.
In this article, we are going to give you strategies to find out for yourself what the best time to post on social media is; for your industry, your clients, and the size of a current audience!
You will learn
- The lifespan of a post
- How the timing of posting can affect your content reach
- What type of content does best on each platform
- How to find the best time to post for each social media platform
- Why continued testing is important
The Lifespan of a Post on Social Media
Before we show you how to determine the best time to post on social media, let’s look at the average lifespan of posts on social media channels like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest.
The lifespan of a social media post is the length of time your post is seen and discoverable in the newsfeed of the social media platform
In these two articles, we found stats that help us determine the lifespan of content on each platform.
NOTE: While data changes frequently, we took these stats from sources who referenced 2019 numbers.
- A Facebook post lifespan is about 6 hours with 75% of impressions happening within the first 2 hours, 30 minutes.
- The average Instagram Stories lifespan is 24 hours – as expected, while the Instagram feed’s lifespan is up to 48 hours.
- The biggest surprise comes from Pinterest; a pin’s value lasts 3 whole months.
- The lifespan of a Twitter tweet is short – only 15-20 minutes.
While these stats reveal the average time of content on each platform, we all have seen viral pins, viral videos and tweets – nothing says that these platforms are restrictive or that your content is bound by these stats! Remember; these are the average numbers, meaning that some content has a lot longer lifespan and reaches more people.
How The Timing of Posting Affects Content Reach
Here is a clear example of how the timing of posting affects content reach.
Say your strategic plan reveals you should post to Facebook 3 times per week.
The lifespan of a Facebook post is 6 hours and 75% of reach is reached within 2.5 hours.
Your Facebook Insights stats tell you that the peak of your audience is online and engaged at 12 pm.
But you are busy at that time of day and you don’t use a scheduler. Instead, you just post at 9 AM when you first get to the office so that ‘you don’t forget’. Doing this will have you miss out on content reach – even if the content is excellent!
You are a social media manager for an east coast company, but you reside on the west coast.
You post a video to LinkedIn at 11 AM because you have read that LinkedIn posts do well between 9 AM-11 AM.
However, you forget that most of your audience is already past lunch because a large part of your audience is in a different timezone.
You miss out on engagement and reach because you forgot to adjust for time zones.
These two examples illustrate the need for
- Knowing your avatar
- Understanding the social media habits of your avatar
- Checking insights/analytics for peak hours regularly
- Adjusting the timing and post frequency to fit all social media networks
- Using a scheduler to post at the best times
to get the best reach!
What Type of Content Does Best on Each Platform
The type and format of each piece of content you post on social media contribute to the overall reach and lifespan of that particular post.
It goes without saying that well-researched, well-placed and engaging posts do much better than haphazardly thrown together content posted ‘whenever’ is most convenient.
What content does well on each platform changes often.
Who doesn’t remember the time ‘text only’ was a ‘thing’ on Facebook? I believe it might have been back in 2014/2015. Someone discovered that posting to Facebook without images and links drove the engagement rate and reach to the highest level. This ‘expert’ advice to use long-form text-only posts spread like wildfire and just about every social media manager started leaving links in the first comment and posted test-only posts for a while.
While posting text-only posts on Facebook might have been effective in the short-run, this practice was not sustainable, and certainly did not please everyone. Small business owners were confused about why their blog posts weren’t getting traction and why their posts on social media looked… well, ugly.
Soon thereafter video posts started gaining traction, followed by the few brave men and women who did their first Facebook LIVE streaming. Oh, the good old days when a short Facebook LIVE segment blew up your monthly stats! 😉
What works today for posting on Instagram, didn’t work just a year ago.
What we post on Twitter in 2019, looks very different from when the network first launched.
The format of posting on LinkedIn is undergoing a huge shift from text and links to emphasis on video content, both recorded and live video.
While inspiring quotes worked on almost any platform just a few years back, audiences demand more personal and intimate type of content now.
What we should learn from this short trip down memory lane is to keep up-to-date on the latest trends in social media, the newest features, and the best content formats. Only then will be able to determine what type of content does best on each platform.
How To Find the Best Time to Post on Social Media, Per Platform
There are many ways you can determine the best time to post on social media.
We recommend you start by going to your own platform analytics first.
Check out and note the following for each platform you post on:
- When is your audience online?
- What time a day do your posts get the best engagement?
- What is the purpose of the platform?
- What type of content (format) are you sharing?
Once you have a clear picture of what you are currently doing and how your audience is responding, cross-reference your data with this article’s stats by Hubspot.
Next, we also checked out an article by Sprout Social about the timing of posts.
This article includes suggested times to post for Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn.
While this analysis makes sense from a data standpoint, it is important to note that there are always exceptions to these ‘rules’ of when to post.
For example, the Sprout Social article mentions that weekend nights are not great for posting to Facebook, yet Sunday night could be a great time to post if you are a school (upcoming events for the week), sports club (weekend match results) or sports pub (come see the game), just to name a few. Of course, if you are on the east coast and your audience includes Aussies, posting Sunday night is a smart move since it will already be Monday morning for them!
A second example; LinkedIn posts and Pinterest pinning on the weekend!
While most people spend less time on social media on weekends – that’s a fact – when they do go there, they have more time to spend! Therefore, videos posted on Saturday afternoon have done well for this writer, both on LinkedIn and on Pinterest.
Tools for scheduling content, like Sprout Social, AgoraPulse, Tailwind and Buffer have built-in ‘automatic optimizers' for scheduling to each platform based on your audience. While these are great when you first start out in a new industry as mentioned before, it's up to you, the user, to keep an eye on your data!
The key takeaway here is to test what works for your clients, which leads us to the last paragraph of this article!
Why Continued Testing Is Important
Things change; change is inevitable in the social media industry.
Just look at the amazing rise of TikTok, the downfall of Google Plus, how Livestreaming is hot and now available on most platforms and how vastly different the lineup of active social media platforms is compared to what it was just five years ago.
While you can read up on the latest trends and newest features, you should always be on the lookout and be alert to spot your own ‘sweet spot’ when publishing!
You are the master chef and have all the ingredients to make content reach as many people! Sprinkle in some magic – don’t follow each ‘recipe to post’ exactly because your audience is unique to only you!
Social media managers should never stop testing.
We recommend you test the following for each client.
- Types of content
- Subject, Topic, Imagery
- Days of the Week
- Hour of the Day
- Frequency of posts
- Length of written content
- Link Only vs Image + Link
- User-Generated Content
- Organic vs Paid
- Boost vs Ads
- Trending vs Evergreen
You get the idea!
Do this for all platforms and never stop learning, analyzing and adjusting.
You will find a sweet post for each client you work with; be patient it may take a while!
I am a Certified Social Media Manager, Strategist, International Keynote Speaker, Organic Specialist and Agile marketer! Blogging is my creative outlet. Running, hiking and skiing are how I recharge. You'll recognize me on stage and online by my always present orange glasses, a nod to my Dutch heritage.