Facebook and Twitter are fast-paced social networks.

To stand out on these network, you need to master a few essential basics, such as:

  • Great content
  • Authenticity
  • Interactivity
  • Timing

Timing may seem less important than the other three mentioned here, but it can have a huge impact on engagement and response rates.

How Post Timing Affects Engagement

A recent report by Klout and Lithium Technologies decided to tackle the timing issue.

Researchers analyzed over 144 million posts and more than 1 billion Facebook reactions and made quite a few interesting findings.

Here are some of the report’s most important discoveries:

  • The majority of reactions occur within 2 hours of the original post. This shouldn’t come as a surprise to most people, given the constant stream of posts that flow through both Twitter feeds and Facebook News Feeds. This study found that around half of Twitter reactions occur within the first 30 minutes, while half of Facebook reactions occur within the first 2 hours.
  • Tweeters aren’t weekenders. Engagement rates on Twitter drops by nearly half over the weekend, though Facebook use remains consistent, even on Sunday nights.
  • Facebook engagement is more stable than Twitter engagement. The study found that Facebook usage remains pretty consistent throughout the day, while Twitter tends to wax and wane. Both networks experience more traffic between 7 and 8 pm.
  • Peak reaction times vary depending on geographic regions. As can be expected, peak engagement and reaction times vary based on location. Throughout the world, peaks tend to occur at breaks during the workday: New Yorkers and San Franciscans peaked at the beginning of the workday, Londoners at the end, and Parisians after lunch.

The Klout and Lithium study isn’t the only research to explore timing and engagement rates.

Buffer, for instance, analyzed every tweet ever sent through its platform – 4.8 million tweets across 10,000 profiles – and found that:

  • Noon to 1 pm is the most popular time to tweet, while the fewest are sent between 3 and 4 am. Buffer’s takeaway was inconclusive, stating that on the one hand these high-volume times may make it difficult to stand out in someone’s timeline, while on the other hand these peak times may make it easier to catch people while they’re online.
  • Geography and time zone also played a role in tweet popularity. In the United States, popular times tended to be in the morning and around lunch time, while in Eastern and Central Europe, popular times were between 8 and 9 pm and 4 and 5 pm respectively.
  • Tweets sent between 2 and 4 am in any given time zone tended to receive the most clicks, while tweets sent between 9 am and 1 pm received the fewest. Engagement rates peaked between the hours of 11 pm and 5 am and slowed during traditional work hours, between 9 am and 5 pm. 
  • Other factors that influenced engagement rates included the type of content, the day of the week, and the number of followers a Tweeter had.
  • After processing all of its data, Buffer said that the best time to “tweet for clicks” was between 6 and 7 am, worldwide.
  • Other studies of Facebook and Twitter timing have found that:
  • Facebook engagement increases by 32% on weekends, while Twitter engagement increases by 14% during weekdays. The best time to post on both networks is between 9 pm and 7 am.
  • Twitter did a study of its own users and found that mobile users are 181% more likely to be on Twitter during their commute and 119% more likely to use Twitter during work or school hours.
  • In regards to frequency, Buffer concluded that 3 tweets per day and 2 Facebook posts per day receives optimal engagement rates.

Takeaways

Some studies presented conflicting data.

The aforementioned Argyle study, for instance, claimed that weekdays offer 14% more engagement for Twitter users. This finding conflicts with a study by Dan Zarella, which states that brand engagement rates increase on the weekends.

In general, though, the data agrees that the best time to post on any social network is when people are not occupied with school or work. Evening hours and early morning hours produce more engagement, probably because people are less occupied with other activities.

Naturally, every posting schedule should conform to the time zone and the geographic locale. As these studies indicate, every region has its own particular peak times, which probably depends not only on the time zone, but also the work habits and the local culture.

 

If any of this data is new to you, it may be worth experimenting with some of the schedules mentioned in this article. However, it’s worth keeping in mind that every target audience and demographic will have its own specific engagement rates. While average engagement rates may peak overnight, for instance, a target demographic that consists of early risers may not be included in that crowd. For best results, take this data and combine it with your own audience information to find optimal posting times.

Marketing Facebook and Twitter Scheduling 101: Making the Most of Your Posts