If you’re creating content for social media at any scale, you know that a key challenge is rising above the noise and getting eyes on your posts. As social media algorithms increasingly move away from the reverse chronological timelines of the past and towards relevance-based curation, social media marketers must continually refine their tactics in creating high-quality content and maximizing opportunities to earn engagement.
Knowing when to post on every social platform is one important way to stay a step ahead and make sense of the content overload that seems to be occurring on many channels. Whether you want to use this data to find out the peak times to get more interactions with your campaigns, or you want to capitalize on quieter hours on social networks, you can align these insights with your own social media publishing calendar and start planning your posts with greater purpose.
We worked closely with our data science team to pull information based on Sprout Social’s own customer base and understand when our 20,000+ customers’ content was most and least frequently engaged with, broken out by platform and industry.
Read on to discover our findings on when you should be posting across social networks. We’ve highlighted the best time, best day and worst day to post on social media from our research, as well as the most consistent extended blocks of engagement that you can put into action for your publishing calendar. Plus, you’ll learn how to dig into this information for your own account so you can uncover additional personalized insights.
Disclaimer: Data from Sprout Social include users from various plan types, industries and locations. All time frames are recorded in Central Time Zone (CST). Number of engagements represents total engagements a brand received on the specific channel during that hour time frame. Industry-specific data includes mid- to high-level engagement times.
If you’re looking for a quick cheat sheet of the best times to post globally across each network, click below to download your own copy, otherwise read on for our findings or skip to the network of your choice.
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Authenticity is key to engagement with the ever-evolving Facebook algorithm, and that means knowing when to reach your audience so that their interest is piqued to interact with and share your content.
As we dug through the data, we found that Wednesday is typically a top day for many industries. And just as activity rises at the middle of the week, it tapers off on the weekends for most industries. This means it can be harder to get eyes on your content when your audience’s attention is elsewhere on Saturday and Sunday.
In addition to the top times to post above, Facebook as a whole showed the most consistent engagement during the time period of Tuesday through Thursday, 8 a.m.–3 p.m., so these can be considered other “safe” times to post. On the other hand, the lowest engagement that you may want to avoid occurred every day either before 7 a.m. or after 5 p.m. These patterns can help clue you in to how audiences are widely using Facebook: checking in for mid-day updates throughout the week, and logging off a bit more in the mornings and evenings. As we get granular with the best times for Facebook across various industries, consider pairing this data with the audience personas you may have already created to deepen your understanding of audience behavior.
Disclaimer: Industry specific heat maps are more concentrated to show medium- and high-level engagement.
It’s no surprise that consumer goods brands thrive online during weekdays, with consistent engagement periods from Wednesday through Friday, 10 a.m.–5 p.m. compared to lower engagement every day before 8 a.m. and after 5 p.m.
One of the keys to social success for retail and B2C companies is understanding what audiences actually want out of their experience with a brand. Use tools like social monitoring and listening to understand what kinds of content, from product showcases to inspirational posts to conversation starters, are resonating at these peak times.
Our research this year shows that media companies have no shortage of times to reach the highly active Facebook audience. With 74% of US Facebook users visiting the site every day, and the ongoing appetite for news and discussion of the news on social, it’s no surprise that media companies see higher engagement than some industries throughout the entire week.
While the weekend is a bit lighter on activity, media audiences are still checking in online for regular updates on what’s going on in the world: reliable times for engagement occur every day around 8–10 a.m. and 5 p.m. Meanwhile, engagement is lightest every day before 5 a.m. and after 6 p.m.
Facebook started out as a social network for college students, and while it’s hard to compare those humble beginnings to the expansive platform today, there’s still plenty of room for educational institutions to make an impact on the network. Compared to other industry segments, mornings and nights offer stronger opportunities for schools’ social media content to get seen, as well as some spikes in activity on the weekend.
Social can play a major role for schools of all types–ranging from campaigns aimed at prospective students to updates and discussions that facilitate campus life. Meet your students where they are on Facebook at the top times above, or consider the consistent engagement seen from Monday through Friday, 9 a.m.–noon and Saturday, noon–9 p.m.
Facebook is an ideal platform for nonprofits to highlight their mission with social campaigns, and to spark discussion and interaction with the communities and audiences they serve. Activity for nonprofits is highest during the work week, with peak times on Wednesday and Friday mornings.
You’re also likely to connect with your dedicated followers during the some of the safest times for engagement occurring Wednesday through Friday, 8 a.m.–3 p.m., but nonprofits may want to avoid the lowest engagement hours that happen every day before 6 a.m. and after 7 p.m.
The statistics show that a social presence is essential for software and tech companies, with 86% of IT consumers using it to help inform decisions. Whether your company is targeting B2C or B2B audiences, our findings show that Wednesday is the best day to post to get maximum engagement.
There’s also opportunity throughout the work week, with a consistent block of engagement happening from Monday through Friday, 9 a.m.–noon. While mornings are somewhat active for this industry, engagement tapers off as the work day winds down, with the least opportunity for engagement occurring after 6 p.m. every day.
Facebook is an ideal place for healthcare practices to build their social presence. In addition to marketing and promotional content, it’s a great opportunity to highlight your local presence, connect with patients, and build reputation through reviews.
Unsurprisingly, the typical business week for most healthcare practices features some of the most reliable times for engagement, particularly from Monday through Friday, from 9 a.m.–3 p.m. Outside of standard hours, engagement tapers off, with the lowest engagement for healthcare found every day before 6 a.m. and after 7 p.m.
Financial institutions on Facebook show solid engagement during the work week, particularly the start of the day from Monday through Friday, 9 a.m.–noon. As banks and exchanges close, audience interest may start to wane for the day, with the lowest engagement periods happening every day after 6 p.m.
While it may seem intimidating to open up the lines of communication for a regulated industry like finance on social, cultivating an understanding of social media compliance best practices throughout your team can help you lay a foundation for successful content and conversations on the platform.
What audiences are looking for when it comes to recreational companies and destinations on Facebook can vary quite a bit by region, niche and other factors. This is reflected in our data, which shows scattered opportunities for top engagement at multiple times throughout the week.
Still, if you’re looking to target consistent engagement outside of these peak times, consider posting from Monday through Friday, 10 a.m.–3 p.m. Avoid the drop off of lower engagement that happens before 5 a.m. and after 5 p.m. every day. Use a social media monitoring strategy to uncover deeper insights into what’s grabbing your audience’s attention during these top times to post.
Instagram is the second most logged-in social media site for daily use, and is only projected to increase in its user base over the coming years.
This Facebook-owned platform shows relatively similar global usage patterns to its parent company, with peak engagement occurring around midday in the week, and lower engagement on weekends.
Looking at Instagram as a whole, the most consistent engagement can be found Monday through Friday, 9 a.m.–4 p.m. Engagement becomes lower every day before 6 a.m. and after 9 p.m, but compared to other platforms, Instagram does have scattered points of engagement on weekends and mornings. This could be fueled by the increasing popularity of bite-sized Instagram Stories that are easy to check in on any time, and whose ephemeral nature can drive FOMO.
To find out when to post on Instagram for your specific niche and audience, read on for our findings by industry.
Instagram’s visual-first nature has proven to be a perfect fit for showcasing and selling products of all types. There are also plenty of approaches brands can use to highlight their offerings, from influencer marketing strategies that provide lifestyle context to in-depth IGTV videos that help showcase every feature and selling point.
Retailers and consumer goods brands can cut through the noise and earn engagement at the peak times above, or target relatively safe times for engagement occurring Tuesday through Friday, 11 a.m.–3 p.m. Shopping behavior tapers off in the later evening, with the lowest engagement found every day before 5 a.m. and after 9 p.m.
Media companies show relatively unique patterns of engagement on Instagram, with higher engagement times split between morning and afternoon. In addition to the peak time on Friday, engagement is most consistent Monday through Friday between either 8–10 a.m. or 2–4 p.m.
Similar to other industry segments, the lowest engagement occurs every day before 5 a.m. and after 9 p.m. To capture the most attention from audiences, be sure to understand the elements of a great Instagram photo so your content stands out from competitors.
Instagram is a great platform for schools and universities to build up their social presence and visual branding. Highlight campus life and events, and consider taking to Instagram Live to inform both current and prospective students about what’s going on or hold an informal Q&A.
Saturday is considerably more active for educational institutions than other segments on Instagram, and to find the most consistent engagement, target Wednesday, Friday or Saturday, 9 a.m.–9 p.m. While audiences for education content stay active a bit later in the night, the lowest engagement starts to occur every day before 8 a.m. and after 11 p.m.
Nonprofits can complement their strategy on other social platforms with a robust Instagram presence. Sparking social conversations is just as important on Instagram as any other social network, allowing nonprofits to tap into their robust bases of supporters, volunteers and followers. If you’re looking for fresh content ideas that can truly drive these connections, build in time to gather Instagram listening insights into your social strategy.
In terms of engagement, nonprofit peak times occur during the afternoons and weekdays, with overall most consistent engagement happening Monday through Friday, 10 a.m.–4 p.m. Aside from a brief period of moderate engagement on Saturday afternoon, the lowest engagement mostly falls outside of the workday, every day before 8 a.m. and after 10 p.m.
For tech companies serving a B2B audience, you might not think your product is visually compelling enough to develop a great Instagram strategy. Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to create interesting B2B content on any platform, including Instagram. Highlight employee stories, supplement case studies with compelling video, and if you haven’t already, start using inspiration from your logo design process to develop an overall design language using signature colors and illustration styles.
Engagement opportunities are in many ways wide-open for tech companies to experiment with on Instagram. In addition to peak times on Wednesday, there are two separate stretches of consistent engagement occurring from Tuesday evening through Wednesday afternoon, and Friday from midnight to 10 p.m. The stretch of lowest overall engagement was found from Saturday afternoon throughout most of Sunday.
As a regulated field with specific restrictions on sharing information, healthcare can face challenges in building a social presence. However, there’s so much opportunity to connect with local communities and educate audiences about their health concerns that health institutions shouldn’t overlook the chance to interact with audiences wherever they are, including Instagram.
Develop a healthcare social media strategy that sets out clear guidelines for your team, and consider using your own analytics to supplement our findings and discover the optimal times for your specific audience’s location or healthcare niche.
Financial institutions might not seem like the ideal fit for Instagram at first glance. In reality, there are plenty of ways to build a content strategy that leverages the platform for everything from highlighting events and customer stories to widening the reach of longer form articles and video content.
If you haven’t fully developed your social media style guide, consider this as a starting point so your team is aligned on how to talk about your institution and any potentially sensitive or regulated financial topics. From there, dig our findings for the peak time to post, or look to the consistent blocks of engagement we found on Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday afternoons.
There’s no better way to highlight the appeal of any type of recreational destination than on Instagram. The network has become a perfect fit for social media for travel destinations and companies, and it’s no surprise considering how easy it is to highlight everything from beautiful views to great meals or exciting activities.
Draw in customers at the peak times we found above, or consider posting during the times with the most reliable engagement, from Monday through Thursday, 8 a.m.–8 p.m. To avoid the lowest engagement times, don’t schedule before 6 a.m. and after 10 p.m. every day.
Twitter remains a top destination for connecting with your audiences directly, through everything from mentions to direct message to threads that may not even mention your brand directly. Use a Twitter listening solution to tap into these opportunities to get truly authentic feedback about what your fans want to see more of, or what aspects of your products, services or content they aren’t loving as much.
Of course, staying on top of incoming conversation is just a small part of your overall Twitter marketing strategy. In order to get the best engagement for the Tweets you’re lining up in your content strategy, you need to know when to post on Twitter so that your content gets your audience’s full attention. Schedule around the peak times we found above, or the safest times for engagement found Monday through Friday, 8 a.m.–4 p.m. In general, across all industries, it appears that Twitter audiences are tapping into the platform daily in the early morning to catch up on the latest news and updates they may have missed, including on weekends. Engagement drops off later in the day, with the lowest periods happening every day before 4 a.m. and after 10 p.m.
Twitter is a key channel for social customer care, so it’s essential for consumer goods and retail brands to develop their strategy for managing and responding to incoming customer messages. Consumer goods brands need to be proactive as well as reactive on the platform, though–including promoting product, shouting out positive customer mentions, and maintaining an ongoing content calendar.
Maximize the value of the posts you schedule by planning around peak times on the network. In addition to the peak time we found during the week, the safest time for engagement happens on Sunday, 8 a.m.–5 p.m. Compared to consumer goods engagement on other platforms, weekends are the top days for Twitter, so make sure your team is ready to adjust coverage and schedule content accordingly.
Twitter has established itself as an essential space for media, with many journalists, authors and thought leaders sharing ideas and opinions–often around the clock. If you’re in the media and looking to stay on top of a particular beat or subject area, make sure you know advanced Twitter search and monitoring techniques so you can consistently find the most relevant conversations and expand the base of users you follow.
According to our findings, media companies have a lot of flexibility in their publishing calendar for Twitter. While the most consistent engagement occurs Monday through Friday from 8 a.m.–1 p.m, there’s more activity on weekends than some industries, as well as unique period of engagement that lasts from the peak time on Thursday all the way through Friday. Engagement does drop off to a low Monday through Wednesday before 5 a.m. and after 9 p.m.
Twitter allows schools and universities to stay in touch with families, market to prospective students and engage alumni through timely updates. Similar to the engagement patterns seen for this niche on Instagram, the best time to post for educational institutions falls on the weekend. Overall, the most consistent engagement aside from this peak can be found Monday through Friday, 9 a.m.–2 p.m.
For nonprofits, Twitter is an ideal destination to activate their fan base, raising not only awareness of their mission and message but also activating followers to drive traffic and engage donors. Supplement your strategy on Twitter with platform-specific approaches like using unique hashtags to organize and drive conversation around events or specific campaigns.
No matter what your nonprofit’s next move is on Twitter, we found that the most consistent times to post occurred earlier in the day Monday through Friday, 8 a.m.–3 p.m. After that, engagement falls off every day before 4 a.m. and after 9 p.m.
It’s no surprise that tech-savvy audiences are highly active on Twitter, making it a busy channel where all types of tech and software companies are striving to stand out from competitors. If you’re developing a social marketing strategy for the SaaS space, you need to know the best times to get your content seen by potential new customers.
We found that mornings are where activity peaks, with further opportunity for consistent engagement from Tuesday through Friday, 8 a.m.–1 p.m. Outside of working hours, engagement drops somewhat every day before 6 a.m. and after 8 p.m.
Twitter is an ideal place for healthcare services and institutions to engage directly with their customers about their questions and concerns about health and wellness. Given the serious nature of these questions, it’s important that you develop a thorough set of guidelines that can help your social team respond both quickly and accurately, and while following the HIPAA guidelines that cover this space.
Top times for the healthcare space occur earlier in the day, with the most reliable engagement occurring Monday through Friday, 8 a.m.–2 p.m. We found that the lowest engagement for healthcare on Twitter happened every day before 4 a.m. and after 8 p.m.
Twitter has become a major destination to discuss happenings in the financial world, facilitated by features like stock symbols that function just like hashtags in terms of search and visibility. In many cases, these conversations are taking place on a global level, and keep going as markets close and open in different regions. Our findings also indicated this, with a unique level of early-morning engagement found for financial institutions. Additionally, we found consistent engagement occurring earlier in the day, Monday through Friday, 7 a.m.–1 p.m. As with any industry, there’s inevitably a quieter period of lower engagement, which happens every day before 1 a.m. and after 7 p.m.
If your brand needs to stay connected to global markets around the clock, make sure you’ve established a global social media strategy that helps you manage the complexities of distributed teams or multiple local accounts, all with a consistent voice.
For recreational destinations, a robust review management strategy and attention to social customer care can make a huge impact in terms of awareness and credibility that help you differentiate from competitors.
While our findings suggest that fewer brands are focusing on Twitter as heavily as other networks in this industry, you shouldn’t overlook the chance to engage directly with your dedicated fanbase and extend your reach to a new audience. In addition to the peak time we found on Friday, there’s consistent engagement occurring every day at 9 a.m. Meanwhile, the lowest engagement happens throughout the rest of the day on Saturday and Sunday.
LinkedIn historically targets a more specific audience than other social networks, with its focus on professional users. While it continues to grow and branch out into various use cases, we didn’t break down this data into individual industries in order to maintain greater accuracy and a clearer picture of how the network is being used today.
Having a more niche audience is no reason to ignore LinkedIn’s marketing power, though. With a combination of advanced search and targeting options and a highly motivated user base, LinkedIn is an ideal destination for lead generation tactics. In addition to B2B marketing, more and more LinkedIn users and marketers are starting to think outside the box and leverage unique strategies on the platform, such as tapping into its unique potential for thought leadership and influencer marketing.
If you’re trying to create this share-worthy content, it’s no surprise that the most reliable engagement occurs during the work week, Tuesday through Friday, 8 a.m.–2 p.m. Engagement drops off outside of working hours, every day before 4 a.m. and after 8 p.m. Monday is also slightly lower on engagement, perhaps reflecting the rush to catch up post-weekend for the platform’s professional audience.
There’s no doubt that being armed with the data on the top times to post across social networks and industries helps social marketers have a better pulse on audience behavior and strategize more efficiently. Still, as social continues to expand, everything from new network features to completely new platforms continues to push innovation and introduce new opportunities to create different types of content and reach unexpected audiences. This means that it’s also important to understand how to find your own account’s best times to post.
It might be that your specific brand finds more success on off-peak times that are less crowded with similar posts from your industry. Or, you might be catering to a very specific demographic that isn’t easy to pin down out of the wide range of data we’ve studied for our findings.
Either way, you can dig into your own analytics with a tool like Sprout and start comparing how different types of posts from your calendar performed. With Sprout’s tools like tagging and cross-channel reporting, you can separate out different factors like network or types of media and drill down into how posting time influenced your social success.
Breaking down this performance doesn’t need to be an intimidating process–we’ve created a useful toolkit of templates to help you start making sense of your social data effectively.
Our data team is constantly collecting data. And this information isn’t just used to put together amazing reports like you’ve read above. In fact, Sprout Social’s very own ViralPost works off this data by algorithmically determining the results for our Optimal Send Times feature, a publishing option on our Professional and Advanced plans.
Sprout’s proprietary algorithm analyzes the publishing history of our customers and collects data on how and when their audiences engage. This is what makes ViralPost so unique—it allows users to find future times to post that work best for their channels, and continually updates and refines to save you time from doing this analysis yourself. It essentially works with your own individual customer data just like what we’ve pulled to assemble this report, to give you the best opportunity for your specific account.
Want to see it in action? Sign up for a free trial of Sprout Social today!
Finally, don’t forget that while scheduling can make a big difference, the most essential ingredient for social content is quality: make sure you’re developing a social media content strategy where every post brings value to your audience and reflects your authentic brand voice. If you need a hand getting amping up your strategy on a specific network, check out a few of our guides to spark inspiration:
We understand that these type of reports can raise questions about just where the data is coming from. That’s why we want to be clear about the data we pulled and how we got here.
First off, we were luckily enough to work with Sprout Social’s very own data science team to gather together this information from our customers. Joel Booth, a Senior Data Scientist at Sprout, explained how it all works.
“Sprout integrates with the different social media platforms via their API, which allows the application to receive messages on behalf of our customers,” Booth said. “Essentially, this is how we power features such as Sprout’s Smart Inbox and Reports.”