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Heat Map: Study of Facebook Fans Online

Ever wonder when Facebook users are online? Facebook has offered a new glimpse into when fans are actually logged onto Facebook. We decided to take a look at the data and see how it varied from brand to brand.

When to post on Facebook

Above is a heat map of Facebook fans seeing posts in the news feed. The more red the graph, the more likely this time period aligned with other Page's data. The more blue (red → yellow → green → blue) the graph, the more likely this time period was unique.

As you can see, a majority of brands experienced their audience online between about 9am to 9pm CT. In general, this is when Americans are awake and active. The graph does not display much variance, which means that most brands have a similar looking graph.

The early morning experienced the most variation between brands. After further analysis, we discovered that this appeared to be due to the "locality" of the brand's fans.

best times to post on Facebook

The more global the audience, the less variation between time periods. The more local the audience, the steeper curve between night and day. In layman terms, due to fans around the world, brands with large global audiences don't have much of a change hour to hour. Brands with smaller, local audiences, need to post when people are awake in their time zone.


Facebook insights

In the graph above, red illustrates when Pages had the most overlap of activity. When you see colors progressing to blue, there is a higher variance in that time period. Wednesday for example has a significant amount of blue, which represents that very few Pages also experienced that increase in activity on Wednesday. However, if you compare the red from Tuesday to Wednesday, you'll notice that most Pages did experience an increase in activity on Wednesday, just not to the degree the blue line illustrates.

Examining each day of the week's overall activity revealed a fairly similar audience profile daily. Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday had roughly the same level of traffic. While Sunday dipped a bit, Monday and Tuesday had fairly lower Reach levels. Traffic patterns for each individual day typically matched the Page's overall average graph, with the total quantity of Reach changing (depending on the day of week).

Best Days of the Week

A majority of Pages experienced their best day of the week (in terms of Reach) on Thursday. Not a single Page had their best day of the week on Monday or Tuesday. The best day of the week had a higher variance than worst day of the week, meaning a Page's Best Day tends to fluctuate a bit, whereas the Worst Day is more consistent.

In our analysis, we found that Thursday & Friday were the best days of the week for Reach (although Saturday was a close second).

Worst Days of the Week

Every single Page had their worst day of the week (in terms of Reach) on either a Monday or Tuesday. It seems as though the earlier part of the week provides less free time either at work or in life, which restricts usage of Facebook. Mid to late week starts to pick up activity, and the weekend seems to be a bit of a wild card.

How did we gather this data?

This data is not publicly available through the API. Through the generosity of Page Admins, we were granted access to this data via their Insights. We manually analyzed the data of over 20 widely ranging Facebook Pages. We focused our analysis on Pages that had a predominantly American audience to give a sense of normalization across the Pages.

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