Social media has become an essential tool for businesses to reach potential customers, but it’s not always easy to know the best time to post. The internet is filled with advice on when to post for optimal engagement, but the truth is that there is no clear and obvious best practice. The ideal posting time varies by platform and is highly individual based on a given business, audience, and content.
In this blog post, we’ll explore some of the key factors to consider when determining when to post on social media to maximize engagement.
Consider Your Audience’s Active Time and Shopping Mindset
The first thing to consider is when your audience is most active and in a mindset to be shopping. For example, people are most active in general on Instagram around lunchtime Monday-Friday, but they may be most active in the late evening hours into the early morning on TikTok. Knowing when your audience is most active can help you schedule your posts to be seen by the maximum number of people if you are considerate in thinking about when shoppers for your particular business are most likely to be active. For a grocery or F&B brand that often means trying to catch people in the early afternoon when they may be planning their evening meals.
Posting during high-activity times isn’t a reliable way to get engagement anymore
Posting when people are most active may not always be the best strategy considering the algorithmic updates to how social platforms surface your content in recent years. For example, Instagram no longer shares posts on your feed in chronological order. Instead, they show content they think each viewer is most likely to engage with first. This is because there is such a disproportionate amount of content posted out there relative to the amount of people scrolling their feeds. In general, you’ll be lucky if 30% of your followers actually see your post at all.
As a starting point, it’s often actually better to post something early in the morning with the hope that it will gradually surface sometime before the end of the day on someone’s Instagram feed rather than try to time your post with exactly when you want your message to be seen. From there, most social media platforms grant maximum reach based on a relatively small set of signals. For example, how many engagements a post gets in its first hour or two will often determine how much reach it gets for the rest of the day. We always recommend monitoring your posts for an hour or two after they go out so that you can respond to comments and start conversations which will drive up your engagement and send signals to the platform to show your content to more followers.
Does a post with low engagement have any value?
If your post doesn’t get much engagement, it’s likely not effective for your business because that typically means it will also have a very low “reach” (the number of people who will see your post). People have varying opinions on what the most important metrics are for measuring success in social media between things like follower growth, engagement or conversions – but very little will happen for your business if no one sees your post in the first place.
However, sometimes you need to work things into your content calendar that you feel are valuable even if you don’t expect them to be the most engaging. For example, at Cloud Campaign we keep a video from our Co-Founder pinned to the top of our profile on Instagram. It’s a reel that got relatively average engagement when it was initially posted, but we want to give it extra visibility to our new profile visitors as a personal touch to help people understand what our tool is all about.
For Most, It’s a Trial and Error Approach
Despite vast amounts of advice on the internet, there is no clear and obvious best practice for when to post on social media to maximize engagement. It’s highly individual based on a given business, audience, and content. Therefore, it’s better to put your analytics hat on and take a trial and error approach to finding what works best for your business.
If you want to improve your social media presence, that often means you need to be posting frequently on every major social platform. You also need to take a “platform native” approach and do your best to ensure everything you post is designed for the audience and expectations of each individual social platform. That may sound daunting, but it can be done relatively efficiently with professional social media management tools to speed up your workflow and automate your posting.
In-Platform Analytics Can Help but Professional Social Media Management Tools Are Best
Most platforms have rudimentary analytics tools built into them to provide you with audience data. For example, within its app, Instagram has its own tools to show you information about your audience (Insights > Total Followers), including demographics and most active times and days of the week. You can use this sort of information to make more informed decisions based on your unique business. Using this, it’s often easier to tell which day of the week is optimal to reach your audience vs. specific hours of the day.
For most businesses, we recommend investing in a professional social media management tool for more advanced analytics and insights.
Above all, be patient and persistent. Building a strong social media presence takes time and effort. Don’t get discouraged if you don’t see results right away. Stay consistent with your posting and keep experimenting until you find a strategy that works for your business.
Kurt Miller is the Director of Marketing for Cloud Campaign. Tools like Cloud Campaign can make detailed recommendations on when to post to optimize engagement for each piece of content. You can also categorize content and learn which content performs best and when it should be posted for optimal performance. Give Cloud Campaign a try with a free 14-day trial to level up your business’s social media performance.