The science of timing: When to post on Twitter and Facebook

Dan Zarrella, social media scientist

Dan Zarrella, social media scientist

HubSpot’s Dan Zarrella, the “social media scientist,” recently offered a webinar to summarize his research on the best times to post content to Facebook and Twitter.

Describing a lot of the social-media information out there as vague “unicorns and rainbows” advice like “Engage with your audience,” Zarrella uses real data to analyze what works best for Facebook and Twitter posts.

Zarrella also included advice for the timing of emails and blog posts, though this recap will include only social media.

Much of his social media advice was similar to a webinar he offered last summer. You can replay the latest webinar or view the slides here, but here’s a summary of his main takeaways:

Twitter

  • The most common times for retweeting are between 2 and 5 pm, later in the week. But clickthrough rates tend to be about the same every day of the week, so don’t be afraid to post links on weekends.
  • Clickthrough rates are roughly the same at different times of the day, with slight peaks around 11 a.m.
  • Accounts that tweet 22 times a day have the most followers. That’s a lot of tweeting. Zarrella tells people that tweeting more often is generally better. BUT, clickthrough rates drop off if you tweet more than once an hour. So for a media company like The Palm Beach Post, which wants social media to drive traffic to our site, tweeting a bit less often is better.

As Zarrella says: “If you’re tweeting links to get followers and to be known as a source of information, tweet often. But if you’re tweeting links from your website to get more traffic … tweet one link and then leave it for a while. Let it breathe.”

  • During the webinar, Zarrella officially announced his latest tool, TweetWhen, which analyzes the days and times your Twitter account is most likely to be retweeted.

This is a moving target, but for The Palm Beach Post’ s main account, @pbpost, a few spot checks on TweetWhen suggested Sunday each time as our best day for retweets. Try it with your own Twitter account.

Facebook

Image representing Facebook as depicted in Cru...

Image via CrunchBase

Zarrella analyzed news sites’ links and found that Facebook sharing spikes on the weekends, especially on Saturdays. He believes that’s probably because:

  1. Most U.S. companies block Facebook access at the office; and
  2. Less news content is posted on weekends, so yours isn’t drowned out

Zarrella’s other Facebook findings:

  • Stories posted in the mid-morning, around 10 or 11 a.m., tend to be shared a little bit more often. But don’t be afraid to post at any hour, he says; the difference is not that much.
  • Zarrella cautions against posting too often on Facebook. “It’s much easier on Facebook to flood your friends’ streams. You have to be more careful.”
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