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.
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!