The Best Time to Post on Each Social Media Channel

Author: Stephanie Taylor Christensen | December 15, 2015

You have a sense for which social media channels your audiences uses. You’ve developed an editorial calendar to guide your social media content. You’ve set goals for what you hope to get out of social media marketing, to help you measure what’s working.

One critical piece of your strategy still hangs in the balance: The best time to reach your target audience on social media.

Though what you post has bearing on the response your social media activity generates, when is equally influential on the success of your campaign. Here’s a look at the best times to post on each social media channel.

First things first: Where is your target audience? When you own a local business that serves local customers, your audience’s time zone is obvious. But what if your business serves customers across the country?

Despite that the latest data from the United States Census Bureau reveals that California (Pacific Time), and Texas (Central and Mountain Time), are the two most populous states, the majority of people living in the United States actually live in the Eastern Time Zone, followed by the Central Time Zone. If you can’t specifically target your social media posts to your audience, your safest bet is to assume they’re on EST.

What is their lifestyle? The time a person is engaged with social media correlates with their lifestyle. Though some studies indicate that activity on social media channels peaks when people are not at work, for example, remember that not all workdays are created equal. Just as students may start and end their “work” at different times than their parents, a stay at home parent may access social media at different hours than one who works in an office. Even workers with traditional office hours have differences in their availability to engage with social media depending on their profession, the length of their commute, and the means of transportation they use for it.

The takeaway? The more you understand about your audience before you start a social media campaign, the more effective it will be. Once you have a basic sense for the cadence of your target audience’s day, use the data below to boost the power of your posts.

Facebook. Facebook users are most active on Thursday and Friday, according to data reported by AdWeek. Posts published Monday through Wednesday have less engagement. Rationally, the pattern makes sense. The more “weekend oriented” people become, the more likely they are to be distracted by social media.

Because of the ever-changing nature of Facebook’s “newsfeed,” timing of posts and the likelihood people will read, and share them matters, too. Some data indicates that posts published at 1 p.m (aka, lunch hour) generate the most shares while posts published around 3 p.m. get the most clicks. Consider the behavior you’re trying to drive with your post to guide your publishing schedule.

Pinterest. If your target audience is primarily female (like most Pinterest users), you need a presence on this social media channel on Saturday mornings, when Pinterest traffic peaks. During the week, “pins” pick up between 2 to 3 p.m, and from 8 p.m. to midnight, according to social media consultant Anna C Bennett.

Pinterest’s data also reveals that optimal “pin” timing varies based on its content. Monday tends to be a big day for fitness-related pins (when people are coming off a weekend of bad eating). Wednesday is all about inspirational pins (hello, Hump Day!). Saturday is a big day for travel-related pins; Sunday generates high levels of engagement with recipe and craft-related pins.

Twitter. If you’re promoting your product to consumers, tweets published on Wednesdays and the weekends tend to get the most interaction, according to AdWeek. If you offer a B2B product or service, the opposite is true: Tweet on the weekdays—especially during the lunch hour, and evening commute.

LinkedIn. LinkedIn is a big draw for B2B marketers, making it no surprise that the highest engagement levels on the channel are during working hours. Tuesday around 10 a.m. is a particularly popular time for LinkedIn users, according to AdWeek.

Instagram. Though Fortune 500 companies using Instagram as a promotional tactic tend to publish to it during the work day—AdWeek’s data reveals that’s a big mistake. If you’re going to use Instagram to promote your small business, approach it just as you would for personal use. Instagram content published later in the evening receives significantly higher engagement than work day posts. Its users also tend to be most engaged on a Monday.

Social media is a low-cost marketing channel that all small businesses can use—but it does require an understanding of who you’re trying to reach, where they are—and when they’re available to use the tool successfully. Experiment with these strategies to gain a better sense for where you audience is, and when to connect with them.

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