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Unlocking the Social Media Clock: Finding the Best Time to Post

In the bustling realm of social media, timing is everything.  Whether you’re a seasoned content creator, a business owner, or just an individual looking to maximise your online presence, understanding the nuances of posting times can significantly impact your reach and engagement.  

Let’s delve into the world of algorithms, user behaviour, and strategies to unravel the mystery of the best time to post on social media.

The Algorithm Dance

Social media platforms employ complex algorithms to determine what content appears on a user’s feed.  These algorithms consider various factors, with timing being a crucial one.  Posting at the right time can trigger the algorithm to favour your content, resulting in increased visibility.

Search Engine Journal recently compared findings from CoSchedule, Hootsuite, and Sprout Social, to identify which are the best times to post on social media, and the overlapping findings resulted in the below starter guidelines:

  • Best time to post on social media: 09:00 – 14:00
  • Best days to post on social media: Monday and Wednesday.
  • Worst days to post on social media: Saturday and Sunday.

Platform-Specific Timing

Different social media platforms have distinct peak times based on their user demographics and usage patterns.

  • Facebook: Mid-week between 08:00 and 13:00 tends to be optimal.
  • Instagram: Aim for mid-morning or evenings on weekdays.
  • X: Lunch hours and evenings on weekdays are generally effective.
  • LinkedIn: Weekdays during business hours often yield the best results.

The below heat maps from Sprout Social give a clearer picture per platform of when people engage with social media than the above summary.

Facebook global engagement
instagram global engagement
linkedin global engagement
twitter global engagement
tiktok global engagement

Understanding the unique characteristics of each platform is vital for tailoring your posting schedule.

Know Your Audience

Universal best times to post on social media like the ones we highlighted above are best used as starting points for new accounts that haven’t built an audience yet and so don’t have anyone to test on.

Your target audience plays a pivotal role in determining the ideal posting time. Analyse your audience insights to identify when your followers are most active.  Tools like Facebook Insights, Instagram Analytics, LinkedIn Analytics, and others provide valuable data on your audience’s online behaviour.

Time Zone Considerations

Don’t forget the global nature of social media.  If your audience spans different time zones, scheduling posts to accommodate various regions can broaden your reach.

According to an article in Technext24 we dug up that was published in March 2023, South African’s are the most active internet users.  2022 usage data shows that South African’s spend an average of 578 minutes (nine hours and 38 minutes) online daily, three hours more than the global average.  As such, South Africans have more flexibility with posting, so there is more time to play around with times to find what works best for your brand and followers.

best time to post on social media

User Behaviour Patterns

Consider the daily routines and behaviour patterns of your audience.

When targeting consumers and businesses alike, you need to consider how much time they spend online during the hours you post.  Desk-based employees have more access to social media platforms during office hours than non-deck-based employees.  Retail workers, nurses, teachers, and other people-facing consumers will not be accessing the internet throughout the day – but they are online during their breaks, so time your posts accordingly.

Commuting Hours

Many users scroll through social media during their daily commute.  Posting during these hours can catch the attention of people traveling to and from work.

However, according to Statista, 39% of South Africans spend only 15 – 29 minutes a day in traffic, so posting during office hours may prove more effective for you.

social media clock and commuting hours

Evening Scrolling

Evenings are prime time for social media usage.  Users often unwind by scrolling through their feeds after dinner, making this an opportune time to share content.

Instagram, TikTok, and YouTube are the most popular platforms to scroll through in the evenings in South Africa.  So, if you are scheduling on these platforms, you need to consider posting outside of the best practice guidelines.  If you are going to schedule posts outside of office hours though, you need to plan to have resources available to monitor comments. 

You can generally go up to 24 hours without responding to comments on social media, but you don’t want any negative comments to sit on your page for yours without a response to correctly manage a potential fallout.

Experimentation and Adaptation

The best time to post is not a static concept.  Social media trends and user behaviour evolve, requiring a flexible approach.  Experiment with different posting times and monitor the performance of your content.  Regularly analyse metrics to identify patterns and adapt your strategy accordingly.

best time to post online

Final Thoughts on the Best Time to Post on Social Media

While these are general guidelines for the best times to post on social media, there is no one-size-fits-all solution.  Tailoring your posting schedule to your specific audience and platform is key.  Stay attuned to analytics, embrace experimentation, and be ready to adapt as the social media landscape continues to evolve.  Remember, success on social media is not just about what you post but also when you post it.

Reach out to Digital Squeak so we can create and walk through a social media content strategy that would work for your company –

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