How Important is the Timing of Your Social Media Posts?

We’ve already told you a ton about why and how social media sites like Facebook and Twitter can be a vital part of your online empire. K.S. Brooks has even shown us how to build one. (Minions and Death Star sold separately.) But is the timing of your posts and tweets important? Um, probably.

According to a report published earlier this year on Social Media Today, if you’re a business or a brand (authors, you are a brand, yes?) your best chance to get engagement on your Facebook post is Saturday and Sunday. Again, common sense, right? Most of us aren’t working and can peck around on social media at a more leisurely pace, between carting kids to quidditch matches and dinner with the in-laws. Wednesdays are the worst, for some reason I don’t understand, but the metrics reported the lowest engagement rate of the week. I don’t feel particularly engaged on Wednesday, how about you? But you’d think that if you were feeling those Hump Day blues, you’d pop online and commiserate with your friends, no?

Yet another report from Lori Taylor’s blog, Social Caffeine, published at about the same time, says to stay away from weekends like last week’s gruel, the best time to post on Facebook is between ten a.m. and four p.m., and the Twitter action is happening between one p.m. and three p.m. Huh? They even go as far (in a spiffy-looking infographic) to parse out the best and worst times to engage on not just Facebook and Twitter, but Pinterest and Google+ and LinkedIn, oh, my. My calendar just got about ten times more complicated.

Some of what they’ve unearthed leaves me scratching my head, especially when I compare the two sources. Much of this seems to be geared around the business day. But again, some of it is common sense. Imagine how Internet usage and social media flows through the average person’s day. Maybe you check in before you go to work or school. Feeling a little antsy around eleven? Get a cup of coffee and see if anyone’s on Facebook. During lunch? Definitely. Some companies block employee web usage until lunch hours, during which you can compare weather reports around the world and play Words With Friends to your heart’s content. I’ve wandered around crowded areas during lunchtime, and I’m surprise there aren’t more pedestrian collisions: everyone’s checking his or her smart phone for the latest Grumpy Cat picture. Some metrics (see above) disagree, but I’ve found that the most popular time to engage on Twitter is between three and five in the afternoon. There’s a reason why author Isabel Allende calls this the PMS of the day. We’re tired, a little crabby, maybe the clock isn’t moving fast enough. We want to procrastinate a bit. Checking your Twitter feed, even briefly, can be a welcome break to help you get through the rest of the day.

This can be handy knowledge if you’re doing business locally. For example, if you’re trying to get people to come to your physical book event, you can spread the word during times that folks are most likely to be FaceTwitting. If you run an international business (say, letting the whole world know about your book promotion) and you are handy with time zones, you can sit in your writing cave in New York and catch your West Coast friends just when they might be goofing off taking a much-needed break and let them know your zombie romantic thriller cookbook is free RIGHT NOW!

But these are only general guidelines. The most important thing you can do is to know your audience and generate a rough idea of their daily schedules. Stay-at-home-moms have a different flow than office workers. College students have a different routine than healthcare workers. If you’re promoting your paranormal YA book, work your tweets and posts around the school day. Know the holidays and vacations. Know when final exams and scary placement tests are given. But don’t do it in a stalker-ish kind of way—it’s research! Or, for example, the protagonist of your thriller is a runner and you’re trying to reach runners as a sub-market. So do some research to find the most popular time they train [hint: early morning and early evening, with some adjustment for Daylight Saving Time and climate] and when they’re more likely to be in front of their computers.

Also, do your own research. Use Facebook Insights, Timing+ and general snooping about to see which of your messages were the most popular and note when you posted them. Experiment with different time periods and different content and check your results. Looking for some general ways to get more engagement on Facebook? Check out Jim Devitt’s recent post on the subject.

But timing can work against you, especially those of you who schedule tweets or posts in advance on utilities like Hootsuite. Earlier this year, after a particularly good week, I wrote a blog post wrapping up the highlights. I led with a picture of Danica Patrick, the NASCAR driver, who had at the time become the first woman to win pole position at Daytona. (The driver with the fastest qualifying time wins the right to start a race in first place.) I wrote that she and NASCAR were also having a good week. I’m glad I hadn’t put up a bunch of tweets about it on Hootsuite, because the next day, a car crashed into a wall at Daytona, and a bunch of fans were badly injured by flying engine parts. A good week for NASCAR turned horrific very quickly. And I would have looked like a tone-deaf idiot for having all those chirpy Tweets still popping up out there.

Have you found any patterns to the effectiveness of your FaceTwit posts?

Author: Laurie Boris

Laurie Boris is a freelance writer, editor, proofreader, and former graphic designer. She has been writing fiction for over twenty-five years and is the award-winning author of four novels. She lives in New York’s lovely Hudson Valley. Learn more about Laurie at her website and her Amazon author page.

23 thoughts on “How Important is the Timing of Your Social Media Posts?”

  1. Thanks, Laurie, for this thoughtful piece.

    I indeed found a pattern related to time and kind of post; it took quite some constant presence to see it revealed.

    One additional piece of advice, for both Tweet and FaceB is not to flood the net 🙂 and be aware that bot posting (scheduling and such) in frequently spotted and will cost you followers.

    1. Thank you for reading, Massimo, and it can take a while to spot a pattern. You’re right, people know when they’re being “botted.” The trick is finding the line between “not enough” and “get away from me with that.” Sigh.

  2. Interesting and thought provoking. I managed an accidental brilliant synapse by releasing my romance- which deals with thoroughbred racing, about a month before the Kentucky derby. All I can think is the tabs I used helped folks find it, because it’s actually selling well. Too bad the Triple Crown can’t last all year!

    Great post!

  3. I sort of got into an argument about this with a former co-worker who’s in marketing. She had posted one or another of these time-zone-specific “when to engage people” studies on FB. I pointed out to her that while that’s terrific information for a local business, it doesn’t do me much good. I know for sure that I’ve got readers in Nigeria and Alaska, never mind the continental US.

    It makes sense to me that it’s easiest to reach people looking for leisure-time diversions during their leisure time: evenings and weekends. Although I admit to posting quite a bit during the day, too. But then again, noon my time is 5pm in the UK and 6pm in Central Europe…and 9am in Seattle. So I figure that whenever I post, somebody’s probably listening. 🙂

  4. What an insightful post, Laurie. Ordinarily, I just post and hope that someone else out there is reading it. Like Lynne, I figured someone must be up and on Twitter, after all, I am! I might have to think a bit more about what time it is…oh my poor head!

  5. Great in depth look at this, Laurie. In my case I’m still not sure I’m any the wiser since I can’t ‘time point’ my target audience. I’m with TD – no time seems to work any better than any other for me.

    1. Thank you, Yvonne. Sometimes I can get it to synch up. Other times it feels random. Often I feel like I’m the last one to the party!

  6. I’ve had some success in increasing interest and traffic to my site by posting my blogs around 3pm local time Monday Wednesday and Friday. I tend to post on Facebook multiple times throughout the day and haven’t seen much difference between the response.

    1. Sounds like a good spot for you with the blog. And there’s the added value of getting readers accustomed to your posts. I’m still working on the Facebook thing. Different content also gets different results at different times, I’ve found. Just to get more complicated!

  7. Interesting post Laurie.
    I had already seen the two conflicting reports and was wondering whether to pay any attention when I discovered yet another factor in the visibility game – how many friends your friends/followers have. Last week my daughter (who has a lot more friends than I do) offered to share a post I was putting up on Facebook about the release of my latest book, but suggested I email her to let her know I’d put the post up! When I asked why she wouldn’t just see it in her newsfeed, she said she gets so many feeds each day that she can’t look at them all and might well miss it!

    1. Thank you, Mel. It’s humbling, too, when you have a lot of “friends,” how few actually see our posts. Jim Devitt said it was something like 7%, unless we work a little harder to engage.

  8. Great post Laurie, I think there is something to what you’re saying, if you’re going to spend your valuable time on social media, better make sure you’re talking to someone. Great point about time zones, My novel is set in Seattle and it doesn’t do me much good to tweet about it with a Seattle angle at 10 am my time.

    Many times I’ll try to get on and tweet or post about the Seattle Mariners right around game time, that seems to help out some. With my book being out for almost two years, I don’t do that nearly as much as I used to.

    Thanks for the insights into the two studies, I’ll be incorporating that into my plan.

  9. Thank you, Carol! I figure it’s always someone’s leisure time somewhere in the world. But if I want to have a conversation with my friends in the UK, miss, I know to get at it early in the day!

  10. I see a lot of social media “experts” saying not to schedule Tweets. I tend to agree with them for the most part. If you’re scheduling tweets and updates and if someone responds to your message, then you’re not going to be there to reply or interact.

    When it comes to blogging, I find keeping it to Monday-Friday is the best. People tend not to blog much or bother reading blogs on weekends.

  11. Good article. I do understand Wednesday. For many, it’s Church night. I found out real quick in Kaufman,Tx., not to have practice on that night.

    I commend you for taking a stab at compiling all this information and providing some good insight. With Schools and Universities letting out, the younger crowd should be easier to find. I can see where this weekend could turn into a dead hole. Memorial Day Weekend. Don’t think I’ll be scheduling much. Too many activities going on.

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