The Social Media Frequency Guide: How Often to Post to Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn And More

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frequencySubway has this sandwich with Fritos on it. I know this because their commercials play constantly on my TV and computer such that I nearly have the ads memorized.

Every time their commercial airs, Subway is flirting with the fine art of frequency. How often is too often to share with your audience?

Social media marketers face the same dilemma. We want to connect with followers without driving them away. We aim for the perfect balance of sharing and listening. I end up guessing a lot, trying and testing new variations on how often I should post.

If guessing is required for finding the optimal frequency, then at least we can be making educated guesses. I was happy to find some research on the ideal amount to post each day. Let the testing begin.

Strike the balance between informative and annoying

Good content can be found in a multitude of places, and once you find it all, the next question you may ask yourself is how often you can share.

Our post on curating content sparked this exact question, asked in the comments by Ryan Battles. I quite like the way Ryan phrases it, and my bet is that he speaks for many of us curators:

I’ve started tweeting content from Buffer, ranging from 3x per day to 7x per day. How often do you all share content? I am looking to balance being informative and being annoying :)

Informative versus annoying. That right there is the heart of why any of us care about posting frequency at all. We want to provide value, but we don’t want to go overboard. Where’s the fine line? And exactly how fine is it?

How frequently Buffer shares to social media

Before hunting down the right answer to the frequency question (if such a thing even exists), I thought it might be helpful to share the one answer I can give with 100 percent certainty: how frequently we share to social networks at Buffer.

(Our social media automation plan includes engagement outside the confines of this schedule, but in general terms, this is how often we post.)

  • Twitter – 14 times per day, from midnight to 10:00 p.m. Central Time, never more than once per hour; seven times per day on weekends, from 3:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m., roughly every three hours

Buffer Twitter post schedule

  • Facebook – 2 times per day, seven days a week, 10:08 a.m. and 3:04 p.m.
  • LinkedIn – 1 time per day, 8:14 a.m., no weekends
  • Google+ – 2 times per day, 9:03 a.m. and 7:04 p.m., no weekends

You’ll see some of the science behind our sharing frequency below, but also know that we have set our schedule—like almost everything at Buffer—as an experiment and are constantly iterating based on our analytics.

As far as an explanation for why we tweet at 3:00 a.m., we want to connect with our global audience. Three in the morning, Central Time, is 9:00 a.m. in London. If you don’t have a global audience, you might not get the same value out of tweeting in the middle of your night.

(Or maybe 3:00 a.m. is a good time to send, if you believe the Informercial Theory. Keep reading …)

The optimal frequency for posting on social media

To ‘know’ the BEST is an impossibility. You can only predict and measure.

I hesitate to start off this discussion with such a tepid answer to the question of posting frequency. But Dan Wilkerson of LunaMetrics is right.

Predict.

Measure.

Repeat.

There aren’t a whole lot of shortcuts here, but with the right data, we can at least gain a head start on the prediction process. Saying beyond a shadow of a doubt that X is the best number of times to post to Twitter and Y is the best number to post to Facebook would be misleading. There is well-researched data, for sure. But consider it as a jumping off point for customizing your own optimal schedule.

How often to post to Facebook

Social Bakers studied three months’ worth of Facebook content from major brands and found that top brands average one post per day.

Facebook brands posting frequency

As a general rule, Socialbakers found that posting once per week on Facebook was so low as to lose connection with your audience and posting more than twice per day was crossing the line into annoying.

Its 2011 study found that the sweet spot is five to 10 posts per week.

Additional research by Track Social in 2012 confirmed that there is indeed a drop in response per post beyond the one-post-per-day mark.

When a brand posts twice a day, those posts only receive 57% of the likes and 78% of the comments per post. The drop-off continues as more posts are made in the day.

However, Track Social went a step further to see the effect that multiple posts per day had on a page’s total responses in a given. In this instance, there was no significant change as post frequency increased. This suggests you won’t lose out on conversations if you increase how often you post.

The below graph represents a composite score of Track Social’s Facebook data. There is a consistent dropoff after the first post each day, but the drop is not as precipitous as you might think.

Facebook response frequency

One caveat: Most of this research comes from before Facebook’s recent algorithm change. These days, the feed values fresh content highly. (As a result, media companies can post four to 10 times more often than brands and still see engagement.) An Edgerank Checker study posted on the Moz blog determined that one way to counteract the algorithm change might be to publish more frequently – as often as you have fresh, compelling content to share.

How often to post to Twitter

Along with their analysis of Facebook post frequency, Social Bakers also studied Twitter, taking  a random sample of 11,000 tweets from top brands and concluding that three tweets per day is the point where brands start seeing big engagement.

Tweet frequency

In the chart above, total engagement rate measures the total number of replies, retweets, and favorites. Average engagement rate is total engagement divided by the number of tweets sent on a given day.

In both cases, three tweets was the magic number for optimal posting.

Three tweets isn’t that many, though. Could this really be the magic mark for optimal frequency? Are we all doing waaaay more work than we need to?

Depends.

Specifically, it depends on what you want to measure. The engagement per tweet measure can tell you at what point your individual tweets reach their maximum performance levels. Track Social found this to be a similar number to Social Bakers. Per Track Social, response per tweet peaks at five and then drops off.

So if you want to wring the most value out of every tweet you send, tweet about five times each day.

The other way to look at this is with response per day, a clearer measure of the total amount of interaction a brand has with its audience. When Track Social observed this stat, the recommendation changed.

If you want to wring the most value out of your Twitter presence as a whole, tweet up to 30 times per day.

Tweet engagement frequency

Basically, what this chart is saying is that the more you tweet, the more opportunities you have to engage with fans, and the more total response you will receive. It is a study in scale. Greater volume should correlate to greater total response, and the chart above shows this to be true.

The takeaway here would be in observing the spikes, when responses jumped at different volumes of tweets. Spike #1 occurred around 4-5 tweets per day, Spike #2 at 11-15 tweets, and Spike #3 at 21-30.

Alexandra Skey of Spokal has a helpful note here: Small business owners are better off adhering to the 5 tweets per day rule because it gets you the maximum bang for your stretched buck. You may not have time for 20+ tweets per day (14 at Buffer is a job unto its own some days). Make the most of the time you do have.

How often to post on LinkedIn and Google+

As you might expect, research is deeper for Facebook and Twitter than it is for any other social network. Frequency data for LinkedIn and Google+ is much harder to dig up.

The best guideline for LinkedIn sharing comes from the site itself, which published a marketing report claiming 20 posts per month allows you to reach 60 percent of your audience.

Twenty posts per month equals one post per weekday. 

Advice for Google+ is a little more of a stretch. Even heavy users of the service can differ on the “right” frequency.

Perhaps it’s best to think about which social network most closely resembles the format and audience of G+. Facebook could be considered the closest model, so you can start with Facebook’s five to 10 posts per week model.

Something to consider: The incredibly short life cycle of a tweet

It takes 18 minutes for a tweet to be over the hill.

Moz’s Peter Bray ran the numbers and found the 18-minute mark to be the time it takes for half of a tweet’s retweets to occur. In other words, once a tweet has been live for 18 minutes, it has reached the peak of its engagement. Leftover engagement might follow, but its glory days are done.

Median tweet life cycle

The life cycle of a tweet is shorter than most every other post on social media (Pinterest may enjoy the longest life, for what it’s worth). Expectations on Twitter reflect this aura of immediacy, too. Convince and Convert found that 42 percent of customers expect a support request to be answered on Twitter within 60 minutes.

If you’re looking for a fountain of youth for your tweets, you might find solace in this:

Presumably, the longer a tweet sits at the top of your page, the longer its life. The more you tweet, the shorter the lifespan of each individual tweet.

Facebook’s life cycle is much longer, relatively speaking

Facebook posts reach their half-life at the 90-minute mark, nearly four times longer than Twitter. 

The 90-minute mark was found by Wisemetrics in their study of Twitter and Facebook life cycles. They found that 24 minutes was the median engagement point for Twitter and 90 minutes for Facebook. For Facebook, a post reaches 75 percent of its potential in the first 5 hours (vs. three hours for Twitter).

twitter_lifetime_21

Of note:

Twitter starts off much faster than Facebook, but then their shelf-life crosses at 87%. The few last retweets come much later on Twitter than the last engagement for a Facebook post. This is probably due to virality which is much more prominent on Twitter than on Facebook.

Wisemetrics goes into a great level of detail on their analysis, even explaining why popular data on the topic has varied—notably Betaworks’ claim of five minutes and bitly’s claim of 2.8 hours. It’s worth a read if you’re interested.

Bottom line: The first couple hours are the most important time for your tweet.

Schedule your posts when your audience is online

Frequency and scheduling go hand-in-hand in so many ways in your social media marketing strategy that it’s hard to plan one without the other.

Followerwonk is a favorite tool of ours to see when your followers are online and to plan accordingly. There’s even integration with Buffer so that you can marry the two together. Here is a sample graph from Followerwonk, charting the most active hours for your followers:

Followerwonk example

If you would rather hack your social timing yourself, you can consider syncing your post schedule to time zones. Fifty percent of Americans live in the Eastern time zone. A full eighty percent live in Eastern and Central combined. Publishing in accordance with these time zones could be hugely helpful for a national business. West Coasters can schedule tweets really early in their morning (which would be not-so-early in Central and Eastern time) and avoid posting late at their West Coast night.

The late-night infomercial effect

There is, as you might imagine, a flip side to scheduling your posts when your audience is online. We’ll call it the late-night infomercial effect—another fun tidbit from Peter Bray. It goes a little something like this:

When there’s nothing else on, you’re more likely to watch an infomercial.

When there’s little else being tweeted, your tweets are more likely to stand out.

Certain email marketing statistics follow a similar line of thinking. You could see greater open rates and clickthroughs when your email is one of the only ones in the inbox. The data below suggests that 8:00 p.m. to midnight gets the highest opens and clicks.

Email marketing stats - send late at night

Being one of the lone voices in the inbox could prove beneficial. The same could be said for social media.

Maybe posting on off hours isn’t all that bad after all? 

Takeaways

The temptation to write off social media frequency as “it depends” is huge, but I think that the numbers from a few studies do show some general starting points for where to begin.

Post to Twitter at least 5 times a day. If you can swing up to 20 posts, you might be even better off.

Post to Facebook five to 10 times per week.

Post to LinkedIn once per day. (20 times per month)

And always be testing, experimenting, iterating, and improving. The line between informative and annoying may be super slim, but it’s one that you can find with a little practice.

How frequently do you post to social media? Have you found that there’s a point of diminishing returns? I’d love to hear what you think, if you don’t mind giving away some secrets. :)

  • joshgroth

    I think this provides great context for post frequency, however the Social Bakers study you reference on Facebook post frequency is three years old. Three years ago you could probably reach ~25% of your audience with a post. However, due to Facebook’s continual tweaking of the algorithm, a major brand’s page will now struggle to reach ~2% of their audience with a post. The old adage of ‘post a max of twice per day on Facebook’ was really about protecting brands from themselves and annoying their fans. However, now that you can organically reach so few people with a post, how do you see this impacting post frequency on Facebook?

    • AlisaMeredith

      I have to agree with Josh here. A lot has changed in three years – especially on Facebook. Some of my clients post 3-5 times a day on some days and we haven’t noticed any rise in unlikes or negative feedback.

    • http://gethiyu.com Daniel

      While nobody knows for sure how they are tweaking their algorithm, it’s still possible to reach 20% or more of your audience organically. I think the challenge big brands face is that they have a high % of likes that are either bots pretending to be humans by liking popular pages OR their Like campaigns were not focused enough and they brought in people outside of their demographic.

      I’d suggest having them create additional Facebook Pages for their businesses targeting a narrower demographic and then running a Like campaign targeting their main page followers. That can help prune their likes to a more responsive group and result in better reach.

    • http://www.postplanner.com/ Scott Ayres

      Yeah not sure I’d be quoting studies from 2011 and 2012…

  • http://umall.com jacobsumall

    It will be interesting to see how the Facebook numbers change in the coming weeks and months once we’ve all grown accustomed to the algorithmic changes. Any predictions?

  • http://johnrmeese.com/ John R. Meese

    Great advice, Kevan. I schedule 8 Twitter posts a day via Buffer, but aim to publicly tweet at least 10-12 times a day (usually on something more immediate, not evergreen like buffered content). It maintains that ever-present effect Twitter provides, showing followers that I’m engaged and sharing right now.

  • http://www.themobilejobsearch.com/ Matt Schmidt

    There is a wealth of information in groups on Facebook and LinkedIn related to your niche and industry. Sometimes it s better to read other individual posts and learn. Quality of posts is more important than quantity..

  • Natasha Riley

    Great post and certainly inline with what I have found. For our clients I tend to advise 10-12post per day on Twitter ( catching people in the USA is really hard & I still haven’t nailed that). However on Facebook I like to aim 3-5 post per day. Most of my clients have different audiences online durring working hours & out of hours so I aim to catch both. I’ve proven this to them using the stats I’ve taken from buffer :)

  • http://googleplushelper.blogspot.fi/ Jaana Nyström

    Thanks for the insights, Kevan.

    I must agree with joshgroth about Facebook: Without paying for “boosting” posts or having a score of friends and family to engage with your posts, it’s quite impossible for a small business to grow their followerbase / get the message out there. Two times per day: My morning and evening, posts 12 hours apart is the method I’ve been using.

    Twitter post amount varies quite a lot, from 10 to 20 tweets per day, the best engagement times are also different depending on the account, its topic and audience.

    Google+ is my speciality!
    The best engagement for posts definitely comes from there. On my business page the most clicks from one post is over 2300 and growing.

    The life of a Google+ post is very long, even up to years, because of the G+ own great search feature and also because the posts appear on Google search. I receive comments, shares and plusones daily on posts from 2011 upwards.
    Remember to use hashtags related to the post topic, also create your own unique one to add to the mix of 3-5 hashes per post. Mine is #Jaanatip which I put on posts worthy of more attention.

    Finally:
    200 Tweets per week generate less CTR than 20 posts on Google+ in a week… with about the same follower amount per account.

  • Luca Forest

    Thanks for insights Kevan.

  • Laurent Knauss

    great article kevan, but the issue is: how can you share more than 10 times a day for example on tweeter and not get your audience annoyed? personally i get mad when someone do this even if they are a very valuable source for me, I tends to read people that post every day which is way enough imho…

  • Khuram Dhanani

    Thanks for the research Kevan. I felt that Facebook is excellent in terms of content sharing. A well produced content goes viral so fast on this platform. I also agree on the point that very short lives of the Twitter posts will need us to work harder and increase post frequency:- Khuram Dhanani

    • http://blog.bufferapp.com Kevan

      Awesome to hear that Facebook is working for you, Khuram! You must be doing a lot of things right to get the viral push there!

      • Jordan Lakhan

        Kevan,

        The viral push is by far the most important aspect, I think many people are now focusing in that as a measure of ROI. Khuram Dhanani said well produced content is half the battle, I would say it is the battle.

        • http://blog.bufferapp.com Kevan

          Agreed, Jordan! Love the way you put this. :)

  • Stan Arnold

    I find this fascinating. I’m a writer. I write for blue-chip international companies, and I’ve written four novels. I couldn’t think up a twitter a week. Whatever tweets I read make no sense. The only purpose tweets seem to have in the UK is to get you arrested for offending someone. Still, I remain fascinated by social media. I will watch and read this site with continuing amazement.

    • b2bspecialist

      Stan, I use Twitter to share content from a blog post I’ve written by creating a series of 120 character “sound bites” that I tweet out. With posts being 500 words or more…breaking them sound into small bits of content is one way to promote the post via Twitter.

  • Holly McIlwain

    Kevan, I always learn so much from your blog posts. Thank you for the specific detail regarding Twitter. We’ll start using 5 Tweets as our minimum on busy days. We’re using Twitter and Pinterest to engage peeps in our sports blog, RollTideWarEagle.com. Do you have any data on Pinterest? Thanks Y’all.

    • http://blog.bufferapp.com Kevan

      Hi Holly! So glad this frequency guide is helpful for you all. We haven’t posted much on Pinterest data, but I can see how this would be super helpful for you! I’ll add the idea to our writing list. :)

      Go Alabama / Auburn!

  • Akash Agarwal

    As a social media user this article very useful to me. It’s a great guide for me. Thanks a lot for sharing.

  • Mark Willaman

    This is a very well written and researched article. Nice work. And thanks. But I find it interesting there was no mention of quality content, the strategic use of @mentions and hashtags. When you promote outstanding content and carefully select hashtags and bring attention to specific people/influencers in the update/share/post our experience shows the engagement skyrockets – and the frequency # becomes less important although what’s best for one company in one industry isn’t necessarily best for another company in another industry. But it all starts with outstanding content. Great content that is carefully selected and strategically shared less often will accompolish greater brand awareness than lousy generic content posted often. That I know for sure. And automation tools like Buffer only exasperate the problem by encouraging people to share a bunch of content that they may not even have read or even seen! BTW, as for as planning around when your followers are online because of these automation tools nobody knows when anyone is online (especially with Twitter, like when you’re tweeting at 3am – I hope your not online :-).

    • http://blog.bufferapp.com Kevan

      Wow, I really love your thoughts on this, Mark! You bring up some amazing points about quality of content, and I think your perspective is super valuable to add to the conversation here.

      And you’re right, we’re not online at 3:00 a.m. tweeting our updates. We use Buffer for that. :)

  • https://www.linkedin.com/in/tylerhalonen Tyler Halonen

    This is a great article, probably one of the better I have found. Great Job Kevan!

    Josh, to answer your question, I do not think it will have such an impact for larger brands.

    With the algorithm, it now forces accounts to promote their posts, giving those who were already doing more reason to continue. While I do not necessarily agree with the direction, because smaller accounts will have a tough time getting that organic engagement, I do think it will be effective in eliminating some of the “spammy” things that come across the news feed.

    The posting frequency will likely stay the same with the decision to “promote” a post decreasing, if you will. I say this because brands will likely fine tune a post to the T where as they may throw feeder content out to fill up space that is not paid. For example a brand may still continue to post 3X per day, but only promote a select post.

  • AlisaMeredith

    I’m surprised about the lack of posting on the weekends. I have noticed that our LinkedIn business page updates often get much better exposure and engagement on the weekends than during the week days.

    • Steve

      Of course Alisa… Most people are doing their work and don’t have any other time to cruise the web. (unless you’re a government employee…)

  • http://indiepodcaster.com/ Nate Fancher

    Thanks! Great post! But I do agree with the comments below on increasing FB frequency too.

  • micadam

    Question is whether these stats and numbers apply to people that post with personal accounts instead of company accounts? Any proof or research here?

  • timothynichols

    We have been trying to decide how often to post. Thanks for the guideline!

  • http://theleanmarketer.com/ Rebecca Herson

    Lots of useful data here, thanks! How many people do you have generating all those posts and tweets? And what about the engagement side of things? If you have tweets scheduled for 3 am and someone (a potential customer, let’s say) interacts, don’t you run the risk of missing it?

  • http://www.lawofattraction4life.com/ Wendy Tomlinson

    Really interesting.

  • LJ Melville

    Great post Kevan, next up – the visual marketing tools please – Pinterest/Instagram/possibly Snapchat!

  • Steve

    Hey Kevan, Lots of data here. You did a nice job of gathering data.
    My opinion is that the best you can do with ALL your research is maybe get into the “ball park.” Like many have pointed out, the variables that keep changing don’t allow you to call it “science.” Only MATH will always have the same predictable and continuous answers with the equation.
    People and social are more unpredictable. That’s what makes it fun.

  • http://www.3hatscommunications.com/blog/ Davina K. Brewer

    Like anything in SM Kevan, YMMV. Some brands and companies may tweet more often, with more ‘real time’ news for followers; others may have more or less engaged followings, and prefer less frequent posts.

    I think it’s much more important WHAT you share, that it’s of note to the fans and followers, than WHEN you share it. That said, a word of caution on the ‘when audience is online’ – take care to be online yourself then too; nothing kills a campaign more than when you do hit something, get people talking.. but no one is on the clock to engage and build that momentum, so the whole thing goes nowhere. FWIW.

  • Karen McCamy

    This Guide is excellent! I’m wondering however if the metrics for “brands” and huge entities would be altered for “the little guy/gal” such as freelancers. I’m a freelancer (WordPress & Freelance Coach). I coach other freelancers and micro-businesses, so I have a narrower niche, although it crosses over “industries.” I’m also “flying solo” — hence Buffer is a huge asset for me in scheduling SocMed posts… Just curious if any metrics exist for separating out “business size” or if those of us “micro-businesses” should adopt the standard metrics…???Thanks!

  • http://www.abundantideas.com/ Suzanna Kiraly

    Thanks; this was quite informative! I think how often you post to each network might also depend on where your audience is mostly. If your target market is business executives, for example, then you might post more to LinkedIn.

  • http://www.socialwebpromoter.com/ Irene Reardon

    I think its most valuable for me. Know body knows the timing of posting in Facebook, twitter and Google. I will share this link all of my friend so they try to get social media followers properly.

  • http://www.socialwebpromoter.com/ Irene Reardon

    I already applied your methods and get social media followers from Facebook, twitter, LinkedIn, and Google Plus. Thanks for sharing