The Right Time May Be the Wrong Time to Publish Social Media Content

Posted on January 6th 2014

The Right Time May Be the Wrong Time to Publish Social Media Content

Social Media Content Publication Time

There are a huge number of articles about when to publish social media content to maximize impressions and engagement.

As the volume of content being created and published continues to explode, finding every opportunity to place your content in front of as large a proportion of your audience as possible is of utmost importance to maximize results.

You shouldn’t simply follow best practices.

Taking a moment to conduct a Google search for phrases to do with optimal publication times reveals nothing short of a gaggle of opinions on the subject. However, few take into account considerations that managers of individual social media communities should weigh into their decision-making of when to publish their content.

Most ‘best practices’ pertaining to optimal publication times are derived from studies of huge volumes of published content, and what times of publication yield the highest number of impressions or interactions. What these studies do not do, is consider your target audience’s social media habits, the volume of content being published by others during key times, or other contextual relevance that may be important for your business’ content to yield optimal results.

What you should do in lieu of following best practices.

To determine when the best times are to publish content for your targeted audience, begin by making some hypotheses about when you think your audience will be on a given social media platform, and when they will be inclined to engage with that content. For instance, if you are targeting a professional audience, publishing content during regular business hours is probably ill advised as these people are probably preoccupied with their workday, and may be less inclined to spend time with your business’ content.

Test to determine what works best for your audience.

After you’ve made some hypotheses about when might be the best times to publish content, you’ll want to test those thoughts by publishing content during different times of day and tracking what yields the best results.

Commit yourself to testing different times of day, and different days of the week, and even times that contradict your initial hypotheses (these are just a starting point after all). In order to identify trends and determine the best times and days to publish, track impressions and interactions with your content noting when it was published. In order to make this even more effective, try comparing the publication of similar types of content at different times, and use trends observed for that content type as your gauge.

Create your own data set, and observe trends.

Over time, you will have created a nice little data set for yourself and will easily be able to plot days of week, times of day, interactions, and impressions to get to the bottom of when the optimal time is to publish content for your targeted audience.

If this practice yields inconclusive results, identify the low-performing times of day for content publication, eliminate them from further consideration, and focus future efforts on the higher-performing times of day. Then, continue testing using these times, plot results, and determine what the best-of-the-best times are.


And there you have it. By spending a bit of time to hypothesize, test and optimize, you’ll effectively be creating your own publication best practices for your business.

If you have any interest to read more about social media best practices, and more specifically why you should defy them, please check out my recent article Rethinking the Value of Social Media Best Practices.

How have you determined the best time of day for your business to publish content on social media?

What are some other ways that you maximize impressions and interactions on your content?

As always, it would be great to hear from you in the comments, or on Twitter @RGBSocial


Matthew Peneycad

Matthew blogstweets, and posts as RGB Social with the aim of sharing his advertising agency experience in social media and digital marketing with businesses and brands of all sizes.

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Posted on January 6th 2014 at 7:29PM

Great post, Matthew! I completely agree. There is not ONE best time to publish content across channels, it's going to be different for every brand, across every channel. Looking to your own audience is the only way to figure it out.

One challenge we ran into at Big Like, much like many businesses, is that our clients are in many different time zones. So while '11am' might be the 'best time to post' for some, that doesn't mean that it is for us. We needed to take into account different time zones and study the habits of our audience before we could come up with a better time frame. 

Posted on January 7th 2014 at 5:46AM

I'm happy you got something out of it Hailley, and thanks for sharing the dilemma you face regarding publishing content for an audience spanning time zones as that is certainly a valid consideration to take into account.

Thanks again.


Cristi Calvin
Posted on January 6th 2014 at 9:26PM


I am new to social media such as this, but had the notion to endorse this as last night I woke up around 1 in the morning and applied to everal jobs NOT having any bites on my resume as of late, and this morning I have 4 replies for interviews!!!!  THIS WORKS>>>>>  I did not read this article until today, so it was not due to your article that I planned my attack,,,, but I felt the need to back this as it definitely has strength in its message.  I realize that I was not posting any social media to anyone site by applying to jobs at that odd hour in the morning but for some kwerky reason I got noticed as I hadn't before????

Thank you, Cristi

Posted on January 8th 2014 at 8:54PM

Great article, Matthew! We had just been mulling over a post to the same effect. There were quite a few Best Times to Post infographics floating around out there in 2013, and I think it was a big red flag when those "Best Times" contradicted each other in different infographics.

Creating your own experiments and metrics with posting really seems like the way to go - hopefully more people recognize this is the new standard for 2014, and don't just rely on one of the many infographics out there!

Posted on January 9th 2014 at 8:31AM

Thanks very much for the comment and kind words. It sounds like we're on the same page on this subject, and it was very similar thoughts to what you expressed that inspired this post.

If you write an article on a similar subject, please send it to me; I always love to read others' perspectives on the things I'm thinking about.



Posted on January 30th 2014 at 2:39AM

I agree that it is important to take your time when posting an update on social media. It is best to check carefully what you are sharing and if you are targetting the right audience. Thanks for the article!