There probably isn’t a single best time to share to social media.

There’s a long tradition of studies that have attempted to uncover a ‘best time’ to post to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and almost every other social media marketing channel, with each study finding a wide range of results (we’ve even created our own studies here at Buffer).

Here are just some recommendations on the best time to post to Facebook to get you started:

  • Thursdays and Fridays from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. [Hubspot]
  • Thursday at 8 p.m.  [TrackMaven]
  • 1–4 p.m. late into the week and on weekends [CoSchedule]
  • Early afternoon during the week and Saturdays [Buffer]
  • Off-peak times are best [Buzzsum0]

All of these studies are based on sound logic and can potentially be helpful to point marketers in the right direction. But almost every study reveals a different ‘best time to post’ and I believe there’s no perfect time to post to Facebook (or any social channel for that matter). 

The best time to post depends on a number of factors that are specific to every business: What’s your industry? What location is audience based? When are they online? Are you sponsoring your post?

I’d love to flip the conversation and say that instead of looking for a universal ‘best time to post’, maybe we should be focusing specifically on when is the best time for your brand to post.

facebook-time

Why there’s no universal best time to post on Facebook

The content crush is truly upon us. There’s more content shared to Facebook than any of us could ever consume, and as such, Facebook’s News Feed algorithm helps to determine what is shown to us every time we open up Facebook.

On their Business blog, Facebook’s VP of Advertising Technology, Brian Boland explains:

On average, there are 1,500 stories that could appear in a person’s News Feed each time they log onto Facebook. For people with lots of friends and Page likes, as many as 15,000 potential stories could appear any time they log on.

As a result, competition in News Feed — the place on Facebook where people view content from their family and friends, as well as businesses — is increasing, and it’s becoming harder for any story to gain exposure in News Feed.

Whenever you post to Facebook, you’re essentially competing against at least 1,500 others post for a place in the News Feed and timing is only one of a number of factors that determines which content appears.

With this in mind, it’s also possible that the best time to post could also be the worst time. Let’s say a study found the best time to publish is 6pm on a Friday, and every brand was to try and push content to their audience at that time, it’s likely that very few of those posts would be seen due to such high competition. The same is true for saying off-peak times are best to publish – if all brands post off-peak then there will be more competition, and so they should go back to posting at peak time.

It’s all very muddled and there’s no clear answer. As such, I’d argue that there’s no specific time that’s best to post to Facebook.

So, when should you post to Facebook? A couple of strategies you can try

If there’s no ‘best’ time to post, how do you decide when to share your content to Facebook?

To answer this question, I feel like there are two approaches we could use:

  1. When your data tells you
  2. When it’s relevant

1. When your data tells you

When it comes to marketing and digital strategy, the best data is always your own. And, thankfully, Facebook has a ton of data available for all page owners and admins. A comprehensive understanding of your own audience on Facebook and how your content is performing will bring more success, than generic insights drawn from studies on a wide variety of Pages from a range of industries and brands.

2. When it’s relevant

This one is a little less scientific. But some content will work best in-the-moment or at a time when it’s most relevant. A great example of this is the content many sports teams share to Facebook to update fans on the scores or breaking news.

For your business, the same can also be true. Some pieces of content will perform best when they’re relevant. For example, the best time to share content related to the launch of your new product tends to be directly following the announcement. Or if you had an advert on a local TV station, it’s best to create and share social content around the same time that it’s broadcast.

How to use Facebook Insights to find your best time to post

If you’re looking to find the best time to post on Facebook, the first best place to start is Facebook Insights.

To see your Page Insights, click Insights at the top of your Page:

page-insights

Once you’re in the Page Insights dashboard, there’s a wealth of data available to you. For this post, though, we’re going to dive into a couple of specific areas to help you discover when to post your content.

How to find out when your fans are online

From the Insights dashboard, select Posts in the left-hand column menu. This will take you to a detailed breakdown of the days and time your fans are most active on Facebook: time-online

This chart shows the average times across the week. You can hover over each individual day to see an overlay of how that day looks vs the averages. Here’s an example of how Sunday’s tend to look for our Page (the dark blue line is data for Sunday):

sunday-data

What does this data tell us?

Here at Buffer, we can see our audience is online 7 days per week and that there’s no specific day where we see a spike. We can also see that from around 9 am in the morning the number of people online is gradually increasing up until around 4 pm where the number begins to decline slightly.

There are plenty of ways to interpret this data. But, to me, this would suggest our best times to post are during the work day between the hours of 9 am – 5 pm when our audience are most active on Facebook. I’d recommend testing a variation of times between those hours to see what works and if there’s a best time at all.

Another experiment we’ve been trying off the back of this data is posting at off-peak times. Brian, our social media manager, has recently been posting when less of our audience is online and we’ve been seeing some success between 3 am – 5 am.

How to find posting times of successful posts

Facebook Insights records reach and engagement figures for every post you share to your Facebook Page. This data can be found in the same place as the data for when your fans are online. Head to your Page Insights, click Posts and below the graph showing times your fans are online, you’ll see ‘All Posts Published’.

all-posts

Here, in the ‘Published’ column, you can see the date and time when each post was published to your Facebook Page. With this data you’re looking out for any trends regarding the times. For example, do posts published around a specific time tend to receive more reach or engagement.

Note: If your posts are Sponsored or Boosted (like many of ours in the above screenshot), this could also skew your data a little as these posts are likely to gain significantly more reach than organic posts regardless or the time they’re published.

What does this data tell us?

Personally, I think our data on the Buffer Facebook Page is pretty inconclusive at the moment. It’s clear that posts published between around 10 am – 12 pm seem to do well, as do posts at around 5 pm. But I’d love to test a bunch more variables before making any clear conclusions.

Using Buffer’s Optimal Scheduling tool

Another way to find some potentially great times to post to your Facebook Page is with our Optimal Scheduling tool.

When you optimize your schedule, we look at the past 5,000 interactions (e.g. likes, favorites, clicks, etc.) you’ve had on the Page you’re optimizing as well as similar profiles in the same timezone. We then plot these according to your timezone in a 24 hour period, to see when most interactions have happened.

We also include an ‘experimental’ element, that picks some timeslots outside your top engaged times to find unexplored, new optimal timing areas for you to post.

How to use the Optimal Scheduling tool

Step 1: Connect your Facebook Page to Buffer

To use our Optimal Scheduling tool, you’ll first need to connect a Facebook Page to Buffer. To do this, login to your Buffer and then click on the + icon next to Accounts in the top left of the dashboard. Then, select Facebook Page:

connect-page

Step 2: Head over to your Schedule tab

From your Buffer dashboard, select your Facebook Page in the left-hand column and then click on the ‘Schedule’ tab:

schedule-tab

Now, click on the ‘Try our Optimal Timing Tool’ link underneath your schedule. Alternatively, you can also follow this link: https://buffer.com/optimal-scheduling/calculate

Step 3: Select your Page

Next, simply the select the Page you’d like the tool to identify posting times for, how many times you’d like to post each day and click ‘Calculate Times’:

calculate-times

Step 3: Check your suggested times

The Optimal Scheduling tool will now display some times for your to post based on recent engagement for your Page and other similar Pages in your timezone. If you wish, you can also replace your current Buffer schedule with these times in one click:

optimal-times

Note: As this tool takes data from your Page and similar profiles in the same timezone, I tend to use the recommended times as a test to see how content performs at each time, rather than a set of ‘best times to post’.

Businesses will win because of the content, not the timing

When one of your Facebook friends gets married, the chances are you’ll see their wedding photos stuck to the top of your News Feed all day, regardless of the time they’re posted. This happens because wedding photos, whether you like them or not, are great content and as soon as they’re posted, a bunch of people rush to like, share and comment on them.

If you want to succeed on Facebook, your content will be the most important factor. Not the time it’s posted. Of course, timing can have an effect on performance if the post is timely or more relevant at set time – such as content aimed at reaching sports fans at the time when games are happening. But largely, your social media success relies on the strength of your content.

Over to you

Thanks for reading! I’d love to hear your thoughts on this topic: Do you think there’s a best time to post to Facebook? How do you decide when to publish your posts? Let me know in the comments, I’m excited to join the conversation.

 

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Written by Ash Read

Content crafter at Buffer. I’m fascinated by storytelling, entrepreneurship, and travel. When I’m not writing, you’ll usually find me on a football pitch or basketball court.

  • Well said that there is no such time to post on social media.Thanks for sharing.

  • Yes There is not any schedule time for Facebook Posting.

  • Tibi Tibi

    Good point. I would add : 1 – your data tells you just what you ask for (and people generally find what they’re looking for…) and 2 – relevancy is, once again, a matter a perspective, or vantage point. I mean, each business decides what’s relevant for the project, at a certain time, for a certain purpose, considering certain risks, resources, costs, potential benefits. But it’s absolutely relative 🙂 I believe the whole problem regarding this idea of “perfect time” comes from an ideological trend, started long ago, that states everything can be scientifically ackowledged and afterwards completely mastered. Which is bullshit. Variables are (probably) infinite, or at least they remain exhaustively undetermined (we cannot understand all of them, but just from one chosen perspective). It’s all a matter of risk assessment, taking it and working to control as much as possible. But never will it be totally controllable. Such ideas have been experienced before, for decades and it went all terribly wrong.

    • Great points, thanks so much for reading and sharing these thoughts.

  • One thing I’d like to hear more about is how Facebook feeds events to the newsfeed. One of my companies deals in events, so we’re putting up a new event on our FB calendar at least once a week if not more frequently. I’ve found that I need to stagger the announcement of the event (we usually post an article link with complete details about the event) away from the creation of the FB calendar event itself. Because if the two post to our FB page close to each other, it seems to tank the visibility of both. But other than that, I haven’t figured out a lot about how calendar events affect our visibility in the feed.

    • Hey Julia, that’s a really great question. It’s not something I’m 100% sure on right now, but I’d love to take a look and see if I can find anything.

  • Thanks for sharing this Ash, it’s something that I’ve shared with our communities for a long time – the right time is the time your audience is online. As all of our audiences differ in usage, your insights will give you your best times where you have the most impact. I understand why marketers want to “know” these things, but success is in the details. What works for me in the U.K doesn’t work in the U.S. Timezones can skew all kinds of data when it’s not factored in.

  • Emma Waldron

    Great article! This is very interesting and useful when it comes to advertising/marketing on Facebook. It’s also very helpful because it could definitely be applied to posting on other social media platforms.

    • Thanks for stopping by and commenting, Emma.

  • ronit abdoo

    Great article, Thanks! I’m a bit confused when it global pages. A page I manage reaches a global audience (it sells globally) from Asia to South America, Africa and Europe. When Facebook shows me the times, is it according to my time or according to theirs? And when I set the time to post do I set it according to my time or my audience’s?

  • Christal Marx

    An honest look into the best times to post. I love this. This area has always been a struggle for me. I have always relied on the post types section of insights to see when the successful posts were published, but that information is always inconsistent. I’m going to try going by the times our audience is online and shoot for some non-peak times. Test, test, test… won’t know until you try, right! Thanks!

    • Thanks, Christal. Would love to hear how you get on 🙂

  • “Business will win because of content, not timing.”

    Amen!

  • Been saying this for YEARS!

    I’ll go 2 steps further….

    If you ONLY post when most of your audience is online based on your insights….you are willfully neglecting that other portion of your audience (and what if they are the ones who would find your content more relevant and likely to see it?)

    If you focus more heavily on driving action back to your content via social networking, when you actually post is far less important. Be active, not passive. Drive traffic, don’t try to time ‘reach’ and hope you get it.

  • Thanks for a great post Ash! I was just talking with a client about best/worst times to post 2 days ago. We covered the same points you talked about here and how there really isn’t a “best time” and that it all depends on the audience and content. I have been using the Buffer optimal scheduling tool for 6 months now and have seen an increase in engagement from before I was using it. 🙂 7 cheers to all the Bufferoos out there I’ll be sharing this with my network today. Enjoy a thankful Thursday via @stevehedstrom:disqus @HedstromMedia

  • Jay Perkins

    Love it. I covered a similar topic on my company blog, maybe not quite as well. But there are several factors beyond the ‘if everyone folllowed the same advice it would be the worst time to post’ mantra.

    The best time to post will also differ depending on the goal:

    • clicks to website
    • post engagement, shares etc
    • email sign ups/content downloads

    To answer this question (which I don’t think is *truly* possible) you’d need to account for so many metrics off social as well as on it.

    Here’s my post that doscusses the first half of the problem: http://sproutmedia.co.uk/social-media-marketing/how-to-find-the-best-time-to-post-on-social-media-for-your-business/

  • I think Facebook depend on your post not time.

  • Agreeing with dominic, don’t you think time is irrelevant considering facebook’s algorithms in finding relevant information for the viewers? I worry about the content is more effective than the time it is posted.

  • Perfect, the Facebook gives the tools and fundamental analytical graphics. Simple and objective.

  • martin

    Hi good read thanks alot. Im trying to get my website on google. Its quite new and displaying on bing’s first page. Any tips for me that wont cost me an arm and a leg and maybe not to difficult as Im not a pro on the computer. My website is: http://www.precisioncoatings.co.za any help would be appreciated. Regards, Martin

    • Martin, Not sure how long you’ve had your website “live” but it can take weeks (or longer) for the Google-bots to crawl your site… Having an xml site map can help the robots that crawl sites know when you have updated anything on your site. Make sure it’s VERY clear to these robots exactly what your site is about and who it is for! That’s done through very clear descriptions and written content. If you are using WordPress, Yoast’s free plugin can help immensely! PLUS, it builds that xml sitemap automatically! 🙂 It is also important to keep adding relevant content regularly, as that is one of the many factors Google looks at in ranking your site… Hope this is helpful!

  • I’ve suspected this for a long time! 😉

    Glad someone finally did the research and got the metrics to show that this is the case! 🙂 Awesome read and presentation of data!

    So much of social posting is inextricably tied to specifics: demographic audience, niche, individual company/site goals, etc. that it really can’t be expressed in any sort of “global” terms that apply to everyone!

  • Kea

    Those are great recommendations for Facebook. Thank you! Do you think a small business can survive and thrive on utilizing just Facebook alone? Do you think there are other must-have social media in addition to Facebook? Thanks.

    • It completely depends on where your ***audience*** spends the most time!

      If your audience is NOT on Facebook, or if the majority of them do not spend much time on Facebook, then that is *not* the most optimal platform **for your business…** You need to have a major presence wherever your audience “hangs out” and communicates!

      Many individuals use FB only for personal use, communicating with friends, but use <> social platforms for their business communications, including learning about other businesses.

      You must do the research and learn where your potential customers spend their time… That’s the social platform (or more likley, platforms) where you need to invest your **business** resources.

      • Kea

        Thanks Karen. I’m currently researching a retail business/pet adoption service and the owner spends the majority of his time promoting through Facebook. He has had much success, but there is obviously much room for growth. I find that he is a little adverse to extending his social media reach beyond Facebook, but I feel the business could possibly benefit from adding at least one other social media platform to it’s repertoire. Thank you for the advice, I will look further into his demographics.

  • Thanks for great Post!! Also as per my experience there is no specific time to post on Facebook.

  • Ashley Scott

    Is this a blog series? If not, it should be. I would love to read the next installment on this subject.

  • Really, There is no such time to post on social media.
    & Informative Article.