This post has been updated! Please read the new version here.
I can't begin to count the number of studies I've read that claim they know the best time or day to post on Facebook.
While most of these studies conflict with one another, they also consistently conflict with my own analysis. This may not be what you want to hear, but the best time to post depends on your business and your audience. With a little extra effort and a little creative thinking, you can determine the best time for you.
How can you determine the best time for your business?
Focus on understanding your audience
Research shows that a Facebook post receives half of its reach within 30 minutes. Consequently, you should try to determine when your fans are on Facebook and aim to schedule your posts around that time.
Step 1: Determine who your audience is
Look at your Facebook demographics. They may be different than you think. You can review the age range and gender break down by opening your Facebook Insights and visiting the "Likes" tab. If you have multiple locations or a large customer base, you will want to review the location of your audience as they may be spread across various time zones.
Step: 2: Think about what their day looks like
Now that you know the demographic of your audience, think about their day - is your typical fan a mom? A student? Likely to work at 9-5 job? All of these factors can help determine the best time to post on your page.
Step 3: Apply what you know
Use the information you now have about your audience to post effectively. These Facebook statistics might also help provide more insight about posting best practices.
Facebook statistics about usage
Today, more people access Facebook from a mobile device than a desktop - 751 million monthly active users to be exact. Smartphone owners even spend more time checking Facebook on their mobile device than they do using Google. (For those who are skeptical about their fans viewing their Facebook content via mobile, don't worry. You can check it all out in Facebook Insights.)
Think about this...80 percent of 18-44 year olds check their smartphone as soon as they wake up. It's likely that your fans are reaching for their phones and scanning their newsfeed as they start their day. This creates an optimal time to post. In the last month or so, I've tested posting between the hours of 6:30-8:30am on the Constant Contact Facebook Page and have seen great results.
Smartphone owners tend to reach for their phones around meal times and 86 percent of mobile internet users report using their device while watching TV. These individuals also spend almost double their time accessing social media via a mobile device on the weekends compared to weekdays. Don't jump to any conclusions just yet though. Weekends and weekdays, between 5:00-8:00pm, aren't necessarily the optimal time to post because of newsfeed competition. During these hours, you're likely to compete with your fans' hundreds of friends and the other brands they follow.
On the Constant Contact Facebook Page, I've noticed that our posts receive the most engagement during off-peak hours when less overall posting is going on. 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.
Studies have also shown that more than half of users only access Facebook when they're not at work or school. Also, the hours that people are commuting to and from work shows mobile usage peaks. Although it's not safe if they're driving, many mobile social media users are checking their phones on the way to work, which creates a great time to post about your business.
Let's review. When is a good time to post on Facebook?
√ Early morning
χ During work (9am - 5pm)
√ Between work and dinner
χ After dinner (TV time)
The bottom line?
The best time to post on Facebook is when your audience will see it. And this is going to be unique to you and your business.
Using Facebook Insights
If you want to analyze actual numbers to determine if past posting times (or if trying new posting times) are working effectively, simply follow these steps for using Facebook Insights.
1. Export the "Post level data" from Facebook Insights for your preferred time period.
2. Open the Post level data in Excel within the "Lifetime Post Stories by action" tab (the third tab) and delete all columns except D, H, I, J, and K. Don't delete E if you're interested in seeing what types of posts work well for your audience.
Note: This does not include clicks on links. It includes only "Likes," comments, and shares. To review link clicks, simply review the same columns in the fourth tab in "Lifetime Post consumers by type."
Don't forget, timing isn't everything! Determining the ultimate time to post on Facebook won't increase your engagement if your content isn't engaging.
Do you believe in a universal best time to post on Facebook? What time do you think is the best time to post? Tell us in the comments below.
This article originally appeared on Constant Contact Blogs and has been republished with permission.
(Facebook posting times / shutterstock)