Social media posting times play a significant role in whether or not a particular piece of content gets the attention it deserves.
In other words, knowing the time of day and week to post can go a long way in taking social media marketing strategy to the next level. That being said, here’s what we are going to discuss in this article:
Why timing is so important for social media marketing?
What does the research say about social media posting times?
The best social media posting times by platform
How to determine the social media posting times that work for your business
Why Timing is So Important for Social Media Marketing?
Of course, if you post content on social media, you want as many people as possible to see it and ideally take you up on the call-to-action (CTA). That's why it’s important to post your content when your target audience is on that specific social platform.
Moreover, social networks are governed by algorithms that prioritize engagement, so content that immediately gets attention and engagement is usually shown to more users. In other words, accounts that consistently have a high engagement rate tend to receive an additional algorithmic boost to their posts.
This means that posting at the right time of day and week may not only help to increase the reach of that particular piece of content, but also the reach of your profile as a whole.
When you consider these three things, it becomes clear that social media posting times should be seen as an important part of your marketing strategy.
What Does the Research Say About the Best Social Media Posting Times?
You probably already know that early morning or late evening when people are sleeping is not the best time to post on social media—so when exactly should you post?
Looking at the research on this topic can give you a general understanding of peak engagement time frames. In this article, we'll be using research from Hootsuite and SproutSocial as their three studies seem to be most extensive and up-to-date:
Hootsuite used the social benchmarking tool Unmetric to compile data from 300 brands on social media and the results are divided into both B2B and B2C industries.
Hootsuite also did a separate study to see what the best time to post on Instagram was in which they used data from 258,956 posts and the top 20 Instagram accounts in North America from 11 different industries.
SproutSocial team used data from its own customer base of 20,000+ businesses and broke down the results by industry.
All three studies attempt to determine what is the best day of the week and the best time of the day to post on various social media platforms. We’ll take a look at the findings of these studies, see where they diverge, and discuss what conclusions we can draw from all this research.
The Best Social Media Posting Times by Platform
The Best Social Media Posting Times in General
According to Hootsuite, in general, the best social media posting time is “between 9 and 12 a.m. EST, early in the workweek (i.e., Monday to Wednesday)” for both B2B and B2C brands.
Presumably, this comes from averaging out the best days and best times to post across all social media platforms and all industries, so it may not necessarily apply to your business.
That being said, let's look at the best social media posting times by platform, including:
The Best Times To Post On Facebook
According to Hootsuite’s research, the best time to post on Facebook is between 9 a.m and 2 p.m EST on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday for B2B brands.
In the case of B2C brands, the best times to post are 12 p.m EST on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday.
Meanwhile, according to SproutSocial, the best time to post on Facebook is Wednesday, 11 a.m to 1-2 p.m.
They also noted that engagement was most consistent from Tuesday to Thursday from 8 a.m to 3 p.m, which is why they consider this window as “safe” time to post.
SproutSocial also broke down the results by industry:
Consumer Goods: The best days are Wednesday and Friday and the best times are Wednesday at 1 p.m. and Friday at 11 a.m.
Media: The best day is Wednesday and the best times are Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday at 5 p.m., and Friday from 8-9 a.m.
Education: The best day is Wednesday and the best times are Wednesday at 9 a.m. and Saturday at 5 p.m.
Non-Profits: The best day is Wednesday and the best times are Wednesday and Friday 8-9 a.m.
Tech: The best day is Wednesday and the best time is Wednesday from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m.
Healthcare: The best day is Wednesday and the best time is Wednesday between 10 a.m to 12 p.m.
Finance: The best day is Wednesday and the best time is Wednesday at 12 p.m.
Recreation: The best day is Wednesday and the best times are Tuesday at 2 p.m., Wednesday at 1 p.m., and Friday at 11 a.m.
From these studies, we can see that there’s almost complete overlap between:
Hootsuite best times for B2B brands: Tuesday to Thursday, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.)
SproutSocial “safe” window: (Tuesday to Thursday, 8 a.m. to 3 p.m).
This makes research on Facebook the most reliable out of all the research we look into in this article.
The Best Times to Post On Instagram
The Hootsuite team didn’t suggest the best time, in general, to post on Instagram due to the wild variation between optimal posting times across industries. That said, here are the best times to post by industry:
Travel and Tourism: Friday between 9 a.m and 1 p.m.
Media and Entertainment: Tuesdays and Thursdays from 12 p.m to 3 p.m.
Food and Beverage: Fridays at 12 p.m.
Retail: Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays at 12 p.m.
Professional Services: Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Fridays at 9 a.m or 10 a.m.
Non-Profit: Tuesdays at 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
Ecommerce: Thursdays at 4 p.m or 9 p.m.
Pharma and Healthcare: Wednesdays and Sundays at 9 a.m.
Personal Care: Thursdays and Fridays at 1 p.m, 2 p.m. or 3 p.m.
Technology: Mondays and Tuesdays at 2 p.m.
Education: Thursdays at 4 p.m or 5 p.m.
Similarly, here’s SproutSocial’s breakdown by industry:
Consumer Goods: The best day is Wednesday and the best time is Wednesday at 3 p.m.
Media: The best day is Friday and the best time is Friday at 9 a.m.
Education: The best day is Friday and the best time is Friday at 10 a.m.
Non-profit: The best day is Wednesday and the best times are Tuesday 1-3 p.m. and Wednesday at 2 p.m.
Tech: The best day is Wednesday and the best times are Wednesday 6 a.m. and 9-10 a.m, and Friday from 7-10 a.m.
Healthcare: The best day is Tuesday and the best time is Tuesday at 8 a.m.
Finance: The best day is Wednesday the best time is Friday at 11 a.m.
Recreation: The best day is Wednesday and the best times are Wednesday and Thursday at 1 p.m.
As you can see, the best times from these two studies don’t match for industries that overlap (education, tech, media, non-profit). When that’s the case, it’s best to view the results with a bit more skepticism.
According to SproutSocial, Instagram posts perform the best on Wednesdays, and optimal times are Wednesday at 11 a.m. and Friday from 10 a.m. and 11 a.m. Also, they have observed that the engagement based on Instagram metrics is most consistent Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. - 4 p.m.
However, they also note that:
“Compared to other platforms, Instagram does have scattered points of engagement on weekends and mornings.
The Best Times To Post on Twitter
According to Hootsuite, the best time to tweet for B2B brands is Monday or Thursday between 9 a.m and 4 p.m. EST, with emphasis on the window between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m.
For B2C brands, the best times to tweet are Monday to Wednesday at 12 p.m or 1 p.m. EST.
Meanwhile, according to SproutSocial, the best days to tweet are Wednesday and Friday, and best times are Wednesday and Friday at 9 a.m.
SproutSocial also did a breakdown by industry:
Consumer goods: The best day is Sunday and the best time is Sunday at 11 a.m.
Media: The best days are Thursday and Friday and the best times are Wednesday at 9 a.m. and Thursday at 9 a.m. and 8 p.m.
Education: The best day is Saturday and the best time is Saturday 5-6 p.m.
Non-profit: The best day is Wednesday and the best time is Wednesday at 7 a.m.
Tech: The Best days are Tuesday and Wednesday and the best time is Tuesday at 9 a.m.
Healthcare: The best day is Wednesday and the best time is Wednesday 8 a.m -2 p.m.
Finance: The best day is Tuesday and the best times are Tuesday from 1-5 a.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m.
Recreation: The best day is Friday and the best time is Friday at 9 a.m.
They have also observed that, in addition to the Friday peak time, there’s consistent engagement every day at 9 a.m. Speaking of Friday, it’s curious that this day isn’t mentioned by Hootsuite at all, but it is considered one of two best days by SproutSocial.
The Best Times To Post on LinkedIn
Unfortunately, the Hootsuite team wasn’t able to get engagement data by the hour due to LinkedIn's API limitations, although they were able to determine the best day to post.
They then used their internal data on when Hootsuite gets the most engagement on LinkedIn to work out the best time of the day to post on this social network.
From their research, the best days to post on LinkedIn are Wednesday (followed by Tuesday) for B2B brands.
For B2C brands, their research indicates the best day to post on LinkedIn are Monday and Wednesday.
According to HootSuite’s internal data, the best times to post on LinkedIn are 7.45 a.m., 10.45 a.m, 12.45 p.m., and 5.45 p.m. EST.
Meanwhile, according to SproutSocial, the best days to post on LinkedIn are Wednesday and Thursday, and the best times are Wednesday 8-10 a.m. and 12 a.m, Thursday 9 a.m and 1-2 p.m., and Friday 9 a.m.
What Conclusions Can We Draw From This Research?
Looking at these studies, a few key points stand out:
All four social networks see the most engagement on weekdays during the first part of the workday, which suggests that people use social media to procrastinate on work (don’t we all…). In other words, office hours are social media peak hours.
Facebook users appear to follow this “office hours” pattern the most, since out of eight industries SproutSocial looked into, only one (education) had the best posting time on the weekend (Saturday).
Consequently, weekday evenings, as well as weekends, appear to be the worst times to post on social media, unless you are in an industry that is an exception.
Instagram has the largest variation in best posting times across different industries, so understanding your target audience is especially important on this social platform. It’s important everywhere, though.
How Much Should You Trust "Best Social Media Posting Times" Research?
You may be wondering how reliable this data actually is, and rightfully so. Alfred Lua, the product marketer at Buffer, encourages healthy skepticism towards “best social media posting times” research:
“And while knowing your best time to post is still very relevant, I’m starting to feel that it’s no longer useful to refer to studies on this topic. Bad insights can drive poor decision-making and simply going with the best time to post from a study could hinder your marketing efforts rather than help.”
In particular, he points out two main issues with much of the research:
Aggregate data vs. unique audience: As he points out: “The challenge with this is that the data includes businesses and individuals from different locations and different industries while your audience is unique to you. It’s hard to say that the average best time to post for a wide range of businesses would apply to your business.”
Outdated studies: Another issue is that social media algorithms evolve fast, so a study from a few years ago may not not be relevant anymore. Since many "newer" studies simply reference older data, it's key to check the original source before relying compleltely on the recommendations.
That being said, Lua doesn’t see these studies as completely useless, since they give you a place to start.
“They can serve as a great starting point, especially if they suggest plausible explanations for those best times to post. For example, if you are working on an entirely new social media profile and do not have any data of your own to work with, some studies can come in handy. But they are not a copy-and-paste blueprint for success.”
This is an important point. It may be tempting to look up the best social media posting times and then schedule social media updates accordingly, but if everyone else is doing the same thing it may backfire.
That’s why you need to figure out what works best for your business.
How To Determine When You Should Post on Social Media?
It all boils down to understanding your target audience. When are they using social media? That is when you should post. Here are a few questions to ask yourself about your ideal customers:
What is their work schedule? People who work 9-5 are likely to check social media during office hours (and commutes), but those with flexible schedules may behave differently.
Do they have access to the Internet at work? Of course, people have smartphones with them all the time. Still, checking Facebook while coding is easier than doing it while fixing a roof.
Are there any cultural differences that you may need to keep in mind? Lunch break in the United States and siesta in Spain are not the same thing.
How many timezones does the region you are targeting cover? Figuring out the best time to post on social media when you are dealing with several timezones can be a bit of a challenge. At what time is the largest percent of your target audience online? You may want to look for workday overlap across timezones.
Whenever you aren’t sure if a specific time is a good idea, try to imagine what your ideal customer is likely to be doing at that time. The more your target audience deviates from the average person in these studies, the more careful you need to be about trusting these studies.
That said, you shouldn’t blindly trust your assumptions either. Instead, schedule social media posts for a month based on your understanding of your target audience, then analyze the data and make adjustments accordingly.
Summary: Social Media Posting Times
Studies on best social media posting times can be a great starting point. However, you can’t assume that what worked for the average business in the research will work for your business.
That is why it’s important to create your social media posting schedule with your target audience in mind. And don’t just follow your gut. Collect social media analytics within a social report template, experiment with different times, and see what works and what doesn’t.
That’s how you’ll find the best social media posting times for your business.