The question of “When is the best time to post on Facebook?” gets asked (and googled) frequently. The topic gets discussed, studied, and reported on in blogs, whitepapers, and webinars a lot. The problem is, the true answer to that question that nobody is telling you is that you have to find it out for yourself.
At the end of the day, the only data that will truly help you is your data. Aggregate reports can help by giving you a sense of the general Facebook population’s behaviours, but your audience will likely be a unique segment. So it’s time to make your own report! Here is what we did:
Create something that’s going to explode
Nope, not a bomb; content! The reason you needed something much larger and more exciting than what is normally being posted to Facebook is so that you can see the fluctuations between different hours of the day more clearly and with more confidence. For example, posting a link to an informative blog is fairly plain vanilla but posting a silly video can get a lot of attention.
If your awesome content is a Facebook post or photo (not a link to your site), monitoring your engagement is a bit of a manual process. Unfortunately Facebook Insights don’t provide real-time or even hourly statistics, so what you’ll have to do is look at engagement metrics at regular (hourly) intervals and jot them down.
If your awesome piece of content is a link to your site/blog, Google Analytics provides hourly data when you’re in overview mode. You can gauge engagement (tongue twister?) over the course of a couple of days to see what times Facebook users were clicking through to the site.
Here’s what a 48-hour period of web traffic typically looks like for us:
2 days of baseline web traffic
Compare that to our web traffic when our “Because I live in Waterloo and not Toronto…” blog got posted to social media:
Our Google Analytics data over the 2 days
Here you can clearly see that more data is better data – the peaks and valleys are actually meaningful.
Cross-reference if you can
To make sure that we were making proper conclusions we wanted another source of data. We were able to look at hourly data from bit.ly click-throughs:
Our bit.ly click-through data over the first 12-hours
We learnt a lot from this exercise about our target market and when they engage on Facebook. We ultimately found that it was higher in ‘off-work’ and break times, namely:
- Over the lunch hour,
- Around 5-6pm as people are switching out of work mode, and
- Before an early bedtime around 10pm.