Can You Determine the Best Time to Post on Facebook with the New Facebook Page Insights?

Danielle Cormier
Danielle Cormier Manager, Constant Contact

Posted on September 4th 2013

Can You Determine the Best Time to Post on Facebook with the New Facebook Page Insights?

Earlier this summer, Facebook revamped the analytics section of their Page Insights to be more visually appealing and easier to consume. Previously, most of this data was hidden within two hard-to-navigate, exported spreadsheets containing numerous tabs and columns. Even a veteran online marketer would find it difficult and time consuming to make the most of these clunky analytics. 

The new Facebook Insights make tracking the performance of your business's Facebook Page much easier. 

Within the "Posts" tab, you’ll discover a completely new section of insights that have not previously been available, the "When Your Fans Are Online" tab. The content of this tab includes two interactive graphs that illustrate how many of your fans were on Facebook each day during the past week, and the average number of your Facebook fans who were online each hour of the day.  It’s important to note that these metrics do not indicate that your fans are seeing your content, but your fans seeing any Facebook Page’s content. 

When Your Fans Are Online Facebook Insights

Is the "When Your Fans Are Online" tab the answer to the one question so many Facebook Page managers speculate about: When is the Best Time to Post on Facebook? If knowing when your fans are online is truly the key to the perfect posting time, this long-debated mystery just may be solved.

Personally, I’m not convinced these two graphs are the definitive solution to discovering the optimal posting time just yet. Yes, aiming to schedule your Facebook Page’s content when the majority of your fans are online is important for increasing engagement (a Facebook post receives half of its reach within 30 minutes), but the peak fan rate may not be the optimal time. I still believe that you can determine the best time to post on Facebook by understanding your audience and Facebook usage.

"Try to find your engagement sweet spot by determining the intersection of time when the majority of your audience is on Facebook and the time when the least overall posting is occurring."

During the most popular hour your fans are on Facebook, you’re likely to face heavy news feed competition. Trying to compete with your fans’ hundreds of friends and the other brands they follow is a difficult task.

To further explore this hypothesis, I took a deeper look at the data in this tab and the results of our recent Facebook content. According to "When Your Fans Are Online," the most Constant Contact fans were online on Thursday at 9:00 p.m. (during the previous 1-week period). Interestingly enough, during that same period of time, the peak of our engagement was Monday between 2:00-3:00pm. This was the day with the second lowest average number of our fans online. When I looked at the peak day and hour for engagement by each week of the last six weeks, I discovered no two weeks with the same day and time engagement peak. 

Of course many other factors come into play when it comes to Facebook engagement (post type, context of the content, time of year and so on) and I haven’t forgotten that correlation does not imply causation but these results do make you think.

Bottom line: The data in this tab is interesting and worth keeping an eye on, but don’t completely adjust your Facebook posting strategy overnight. If your current strategy is working, continue to post during the times you’ve had success with and try experimenting with new times occasionally based on "When Your Fans are Online."

 

Have you started to explore any of the new Facebook Page Insights yet? Have you improved your Facebook marketing strategy with this new information? I’d love to hear feedback!

Danielle Cormier

Danielle Cormier

Manager, Constant Contact

Social Media Corporate Community Manager at Constant Contact in Boston, MA. My interests include, social media, new marketing technology, skiing, fashion, Boston sports and social psychology. 

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Comments

fanfoundry
Posted on September 5th 2013 at 4:20PM

Agree with your assessment, Danielle.   As a lifelong contrarian (hey, somebody has to do it), I've found success with the new FB analytics by combining it the way you suggested - namely, to note it, experiment with audience behavior during both peak and off-peak times, and adjust as appropriate.

As your article notes, there is a difference between a FB user being online and that same FB user actually interacting with your content.  Having said that, I have noticed an increase in engagement on weekends, when people apparently are both feeling more sociable and less time pressured by work or other distractions.  Think of weekends as being "lean in" time, conversation-wise.

There also appears to be a correlation between evening time (versus workday time) and Like activity.  This seems fairly obvious when you think about it.  You wouldn't want your boss to notice that you clicke the "Like" button on FB content during working hours, unless that FB content is relevant to your workday job.  So, people might just be a leetle gun-shy about engaging on FB during the workday. 

Dan Zarrella's book "The Science of Marketing" has a nice chapter on FB that covers these questions, as well as optimal post length, variation of post content and its effects on engagement and sharing, and much more. 

Nope, I'm not on commission.

Enjoy! 

Cheers,

Ed

@fanfoundry

 

Paul O'Brien
Posted on March 12th 2014 at 9:39PM

Great article, points and theories Danielle and Ed. I agree with these and they have been very insightful and helpful, thank you to both of you.

The only point which I would like to add would be about a specific target audience.

I might be against the norm, but in regards to Business Development Managers, I have mainly business related social media accounts, so in my case, I spend most of my time on my social media platforms during the day, use it for researching, networking and talking to potential and existing clients. I don’t usually spend much time using Facebook outside of this time.

This may be helpful take into consideration when looking at posting on Facebook to people in professional industries.