Facebook is a great way for websites to reach their fans and promote their content. But if you are relying on organic reach as part of your social media marketing strategy, you’re up against a lot of competition with many other businesses trying to make it on to users newsfeeds.
So when is the best time to post on Facebook? There is quite a lot of conflicting information online with some people saying that 8am is the best, someone else saying that it’s 1pm and another might say 5pm is the best time.
The problem with these suggestions is that they are using generic data that wont apply to everyone. What works for one page may not work for another as their audiences will be very different.
The best way to know what will work for your page, is to look at your own page! This is the only way to find out what will work best for you. There’s a lot to learn if you take the time to analyse the data that Facebook provides.
Facebook Insights is a great place to look for clues about your page. The above image shows when users are online which may give an indication as to when your posts are more likely to be seen. BUT… All is not as it seems. This information alone wont show you what’s really going on. For that, you need to delve into the data at the post level.
To get a really good understanding of what is happening on your Facebook page you can download post data that contains valuable information you can use to your advantage (you can also download page data, but we want to know what is happening with our posts).
You can learn a lot about your posts including how many people saw them, the engagement they got (likes, comments, shares) and how many link clicks they received. The file has WAY more than just those mentioned and it can be very confusing trying to figure out what each column means and which ones you need to look at.
The main columns you may want to look at are Date, Total Reach By Users Who Like Your Page, Lifetime Organic Reach, Likes, Shares, Comments and Link Clicks. Using this information you will be able to find out what days and times work best for your page.
If you download the data in .xls you can take the data you need and manipulate it to find the answers you seek. Since I love PHP, I decided to write some code to read the data to create charts and tables to make the data easy to read.
To build a good data set it would be a good idea to post consistently (8-12 times per day for 14-28 days). That way you will build a larger range of data to use so you can get a proper feel for how your posts perform.
After downloading the file it may be a good idea to remove promoted posts, photos and videos as they may skew the results. This obviously depends on what post types you want to learn about or what you are posting on your page.
For the example Facebook page in this post, nearly all of its posts are links. Photos and videos are used to increase engagement and reach of the page periodically but I’m only interested in learning about the links and how they are performing, so everything else was removed.
If you would like to learn how to read the data in Excel, there is a good example here.
I downloaded 180 days worth of data for a Facebook page and put the data into a chart to allow me to see at a glance how the posts are performing.
Based on this data Wednesdays and Sundays perform the best for this particular page. But if we break the data down a little more it looks like Tuesday has the best “click per post” ratio than any other day. So Tuesday could be a good day to experiment with to see how posts perform over time.
The posting schedule for this example page had been set to every 3 hours, so there are more posts in the 12, 3, 6, 9 slots. There were a few outside this post schedule but it gives a rough Idea of how posts are performing throughout the day.
In the Facebook insights for the page it showed 9PM as having the most users online with the rise beginning at 9am. So with more people online you would expect posts between 5PM and about 10PM to do better. But according to this data posts performed better at 12AM, 3AM and 6AM with the highest reach and engagement.
Why is this? It could be that other pages aren’t posting as much during the “off-peak” hours so posts reach more people who like the page. If more people see the post and interact (like/comment/share) then it might have a higher chance of being seen by their friends in their feed.
Also time zones may play a part in those time slots doing better. Though the website and its Facebook page cater to a worldwide audience, users from the USA make up the largest group of followers on the page which may explain why posts do better at those times.
Also, due to the nature of the website the number of posts in the day are much lower than the evening/night. If the number of posts were to increase during the day, we’d know if they had the potential to do better. But the “clicks per post” doesn’t look great compared to the other time slots.
The data also shows how much Facebook limits a posts reach. There was 1 post at 7AM that reached only 6 people who like the page. 6 people on a page that has 10,000+ likes. This is obviously a tactic to force pages to pay and promote posts if they want to reach more people. It’s just one of the ways Facebook makes money from their users!
Looking at this I can see that even though there were only 2 posts at 8AM, it could be a good slot to experiment with as the clicks per post is actually really quite high when compared to the other time slots. So it may be worth trying to see if 8AM would perform better than 9AM.
The saying “no one knows you better than you know yourself” rings true when trying to figure out the best post times or days on Facebook. You can’t use other peoples times, suggestions or “expert” opinions. The only way to know for sure is to look at what is going on with your own page and experiment with times and days until you find the slots that work best for you.