When is the best time to post on social media? It’s later than you think

Publishers tend to think that in a mobile-first landscape the best time to post on social media is, well, all of the time. From a traffic standpoint, they’re right — this year we’ve seen continued growth in mobile consumption, with more than a 20% increase in the number of direct visits taking place on mobile.

With more readers consuming content on mobile devices than ever before, are social media strategies truly reflecting audience behaviors? We looked at our publisher data to find out.

The social media problem facing publishers

If getting more eyes on your most engaging stories is the goal, how do you gain an advantage in leveraging social media’s massive reach?

when to post on social media hourly chart

The chart above shows us that:

  • Social traffic outperforms overall traffic during evenings and nights (notably 6 p.m. to midnight).
  • Social traffic underperforms overall traffic from the morning through to the early afternoon.

To note: You may be wondering what time zone this data represents. This chart shows the user’s local time, which can give you context across all time zones.

Therefore, if you desire greater reach, the best time to attract more eyes is boosting social later in the day.

(For more on mobile reader behaviors, see: Channels, conversions, and churn: Why better mobile UX is key for subscriber revenue)

How this affects real-time social trends across publishers

Publishers, in aggregate, appear to be picking up on this trend. As you can see below, Twitter sees more posts and traffic before 6 a.m., only to drop off between 6 a.m. and 12 p.m. Posts and traffic then pick up again in the late afternoon through evening.

social traffic trends chartbeat

What should social media managers do next?

As big fans of experimentation here at Chartbeat, we recommend putting this data to the test. Schedule your social media posts during the advantageous windows we identified above. Then, put it up against your current social engagement figures to see if you’re getting that off-hours bump. 

The ways readers access sites — particularly on mobile — has dramatically changed in recent years. By leveraging your data to determine the best times to post on social, you can proactively get in front of your audience when they want your content most.

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