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Why There Is No Best Time to Post on Social Media – Here’s Why #116

There’s a time and a season for everything, even for your social media posts.
In this episode of our Here’s Why digital marketing video series, Mark and Eric explain why social media studies may not actually give you your best times to post on social media, and how you can find the real best times for yourself.

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Transcript

Eric: Mark, is there such a thing as the best time to post on a social media platform?
Mark: Strictly speaking, yes, there is.
Eric: But you titled this episode, “Here’s Why There Is No Best Time to Post on Social Media.”
Mark: Yes, I did. That’s because there isn’t a best time.
Eric: You’re not making any sense.
Mark: Okay, I’ll stop teasing. Here’s what I mean. There is not any one-size-fits-all best time to post on social media. That is, the typical recommendations you see from studies for the best time to post on various networks may not necessarily be the best times for you.
Eric: I see where you’re going. Let’s back up for a moment though, and talk about what we mean by a best time to post.
Mark: There can actually be several different best times, depending on what you’re measuring. For instance, one time of day may get you more impressions or more of your audience online. Another time might be better for engagement.
Eric: That makes sense. Why do you think our viewers shouldn’t go with the times mentioned in typical studies?
Mark: Because those studies are inevitably showing best times averaged across a lot of different accounts from many different markets. That really represents two issues where, as they say, your mileage may vary.
The first is an important thing to understand about averages. Average groups typically fall into a bell curve distribution as you see here. Now, if the horizontal axis is “range of hours throughout a day,” then each bar represents the accounts for whom that time is the best time for posting. You can see that the bars in the middle, the average for the group, are the tallest.
 

So it is true that the largest groups of users experience the best time are those times of day. However, notice that there are a lot of people who fall out of the average group for either side. That is, these are accounts for whom times other than the average time is the best time, and what’s more, there are actually more accounts in the earlier and later outlier groups than there are in the average groups.

Eric: Chances are actually pretty good that you might be in an outlier group?
Mark: Exactly. The thing is, because these studies look at large numbers of accounts and present the average or even the mean as the best time to post, they can’t tell you which group you fall into. And so they really aren’t telling you your best time to post.
[Tweet “The problem with an average best time to post is you may not be average. More at”]
Eric: You said there was a second reason why these best-time-to-post studies might give you the wrong data from your own account?
Mark: Yes. It’s the variations among market spaces. Now, those variations can come into play in a number of ways. For example, if you’re a site selling, say, getaway vacations, people might be more susceptible to your posts in the afternoon when they’re a little bored at work and looking for an escape. But if you’re a restaurant, well, just before lunch or dinner time might be your best times.
Eric: What should you do to find out when your real best times to post are?
Mark: There’s no escaping it. The only way to know is to test for yourself, but if you want accurate results, you have to set that test up carefully and be willing to exercise patience.
[Tweet “The only accurate way to know your best times for posting is to run your own tests. More at”]
Eric: Can’t you just look at the metrics you already have going back a few weeks, and find out from that?
Mark: You could, but you’d likely get a very skewed answer.
Eric: Why?
Mark: Because to get a valid test you need to spread posts out over all hours of the day on all different days of the week, and randomize the posts so the same content isn’t always getting shared at the same time. Otherwise, your data is going to be skewed towards the times you’re already posting most frequently, and your gaps might just fall where your actual sweet spots exist.
Eric: Sounds like a lot of work.
Mark: It is, if you want to do it right. And that much effort may not be worth it unless you’re an enterprise level social media team with lots of resources. Thankfully, there’s a simple compromise that’s probably good enough for most of the rest of us.
Eric: What is that?
Mark: Determine when during the day most of your followers are active on the particular network that you’re looking at. There are various tools out there that can help you do that. For example, MOZ’s Followerwonk can give you that analysis for Twitter, as you see here.
 

 
Then schedule the bulk of your posts during the hours your followers are most active. Now, that increases the chances that more followers will see your posts and you’ll more likely get as much benefit as calculating your best times, as you wouldn’t want to put all your posts at that one best time anyway.
Eric: Thanks for solving that problem for us, Mark.
Mark: Wait, there’s an even better way to approach this.
Eric: And what’s that?
Mark: I got to give credit where credit is due, and that’s to the great Jay Baer for this one. Instead of worrying about what time to post, or how often to post, resolve to never post anything unless it’s truly worthy of being shared and talked about.
Now, Jay said, “In social media, the algorithm is the most important customer.” By that he means, if you post something that your audience engages with and shares, the algorithms reward you by spreading it further. In that case, it doesn’t matter so much when you posted it. Only post things that you know you yourself would want to share if you saw it in your feed and it wasn’t from you.
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About the Author

Mark Traphagen was our Content Strategy Director for Perficient Digital until February of 2019. He has been named one of the most influential content and social media authors in numerous industry listings.

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Thoughts on “Why There Is No Best Time to Post on Social Media – Here’s Why #116”

  1. Very nicely done, gentlemen, I had a feeling you were going to drop the four letter T-bomb at some point in the video. I love the Jay Baer quote too.

  2. Mark Traphagen

    Thanks, Matt. I’m definitely going to steal “four letter T-bomb” 😉

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