An In-Depth Look at The Science of Facebook Timing

Every good marketer wants to know – when’s the best time to post on Facebook? Luckily, analytics gurus and social media mavens alike have jumped on the question – and they’ve found some interesting answers.

For example – according to Hubspot’s Dan Zarella, the most productive time to share things on Facebook is on Saturday at noon (Eastern Time). There’s also a considerable spike again at 7:00pm Eastern. As to how often you should post, the consensus seems to be that once every two days gets the best results.

But that’s not all there is to Facebook timing. Specific industries have shown better results when they post on different days of the week. Retail industries have the highest engagement on Sundays and the lowest on Fridays, while business and finance industries get their peak around midweek.

Facebook Engagement Metrics

Brands that posted outside of business hours had 20% higher engagement rates

With this in mind, different types of Facebook posts – and even how you post them – get different levels of interaction depending on when you share them. Here’s what we uncovered:

Getting the Most Out of Facebook Timing

  • Want to post an important news story? 11:00 am to 4pm is the best possible window for any major news concerning your brand. Facebook gets a great deal of attention before, during and slightly after lunch, as well as after business hours. Remember – use this rule of thumb as a starting point, and then test different posting times to see what works best for you.
  • Want to make sure your post makes it into your friends’/fans’ “Top News” section? Use words like “limited time”, “today” and “exclusive”. These words get the attention of Facebook’s proprietary EdgeRank technology and increase the likelihood that your news will make it to the top of feeds.
  • When posting images or videos (particularly any fan-made ones), be sure to tag people. Remember that you can only tag 30 people, so make it count by tagging folks you know would be most interested in your announcement. The same applies for writing notes. To help prevent note spamming, turn off the automatic feed option on your Facebook wall.
  • When they’re not busy, people have more time to stay up-to-date on relevant industry news and other things they’re interested in. That’s why you shouldn’t discount after-hours posts thinking they simply won’t be noticed – when in fact, they get more likes and comments than posting at other times.

Facebook Post Timing

How often you post on Facebook matters – 1-2 posts per day gets more engagement than 3 or more posts.

What Type of Posts Get the Greatest Reaction?

Now that you know when to post – the next question inevitably becomes – what do I post to get the most interactions and reactions from fans and followers? The answer: question-based posts.

Question based posts get twice the comments

Question-based posts get twice the comments of non-question posts

Posts that encourage interaction – and even reward customers for talking about them – generate much more excitement and motivation, which in turn leads to more shares with friends. Case in point: Corona Light. They wanted the appeal of a large beer brand while still maintaining the small beer budget.

Their unique campaign as the “Most Liked” started a flurry of viral shares and updates:

In addition to question-style and relationship-building “thank you” posts – fill-in-the-blank posts also generate a large number of comments.

A Warning About Auto-Posting: Shortened URLs Cut Clicks Dramatically

You may think that the science behind Facebook timing is all well and good – but before you rush off to stuff your auto-posting software with news releases scheduled for the weekend, you should know that most Facebook users don’t trust or click on shortened URL links.

That means if you’re using HootSuite, Tweetdeck or other services that automatically shorten your URLs, you’re likely to get far less engagement – up to 94% less than simply including the full URL. Plus, by using the complete URL, you also get the flexibility of a post thumbnail and the ability to add more copy without being reduced to a set number of characters.

That’s not to say that you shouldn’t use these tools – you can still schedule posts without the URL shortener. But at the same time, realize that sharing to Facebook via Tweetdeck for example, tries to corral Facebook into a Twitter-like micro-post – and that seldom works well.

What Should I Measure?

As with other types of marketing, it pays to test. There’s no “one size fits all” solution to what will resonate most with your audience. The question then becomes “what defines ‘success’ when marketing via Facebook?” Are you measuring successful conversion based on:

  • The number of clicks an ad gets?
  • The largest increase in fans over a set time period?
  • The most signups on your website as a result of a Facebook post?

Whatever you consider a successful conversion, you’ll need the right tools to measure it. Currently, Facebook’s analytics tool doesn’t give you real time engagement statistics. With this in mind the best leverage marketers can get is to see approximately when their story drops out of their prospects’ news feeds. Tools like PageLever, SocialBakers and even social media add-ons like Social Campaigns from Constant Contact will help you better measure your Facebook timing so that you get the most out of EdgeRank and improved visibility of your posts.

Facebook impressions and engagements by hour

An Example of PageLever’s Facebook Timing Analytics

With KISSmetrics you can track and see who came to your website from a Facebook post and actually became a customer!

The “Best Time” is the Time Your Target Audience is Most Active

Like every post about the “best time to _____” (send email, tweet, etc.), it no longer becomes the “best time” when you have a glut of people all shoveling messages to their followers and fans at the same time, so do your homework and test. The best option is to always be testing with your own audience and see what kind of responses you get – and when.

View the Science of Social Timing Infographic

science of social timing social networks

About the Author: Sherice Jacob helps website owners improve conversion rates with SEO copywriting, blog consulting and website reviews. Learn more at iElectrify.com and download your free web copy hotsheet and conversion checklist.

  1. Thanks for this post. I’ll have to experiment, set up my google analytic to accurately track social media engagement and then test different timings of my posts.

  2. The number of every other day was true before the ticker came along. I *believe* it was Hubspot that said posting up to every 3 hours was the breaking point for Pages. I’ve noticed a huge engagement increase since I went multiple times per day.

  3. Great post – and while frequency of every 3 or so hours for posting may not seem to negatively impact the number of impressions – I have noticed lower frequency seems to increase the impressions by 50% or so.

    Any insights on the effect based upon type of post? seems like status posts with links that pull photos get fewer impressions than posts of photos with links added to the status after upload. I have seen as much as 2.5 times the reach on similar posts with similar engagement

  4. Up to 94% less follow your link if its shortened!? Sometimes it has to be done on Twitter but it has opened my eyes, thanks!

  5. Interesting. Although your data says that more than 2 posts a day result in higher engagement rates, we’ve noticed the opposite at behappy.me.

    Since our business depends on constant, qualitative content, we’ve noticed that our kind of content (inspirational quotes), have the best engagement rate when they’re at 5-6 per day. I suppose it depends on the nature of your business.

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  7. Excellent post man!
    Thanks for sharing such a informative article with us,keep on sharing.

  8. Its easy to use of facebook but its difficult to understand the science of facebook.In your given article you did great job in very clear examples.

    Thanks!

  9. Great info! Just superb and super useful info…
    Rethinking my FB page update strategy after this great post.
    Many thanks!

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