The challenge of the cascading wall of Facebook’s news feed is that content can fly by before you ever get a chance to see it. If you are doing a great job in posting response generating content you’ll likely land on your fans’ Top News page (a goal you should be striving for). But let’s be honest – how many brands produce compelling content in every single post?
Part of the allure of Facebook business pages is that you can achieve top-of-mind awareness with frequent posts (without overdoing it). But even the best, most riveting posts are worthless if your fans don’t see them.
Vitrue has just come out with another white paper on the best times to post on Facebook. Their data analysis offers us a good glimpse of when fans are most likely to react to brand content. As you look over some of the results, keep in mind the following:
1) This covers a three year period from August 10, 2007 through October 10, 2010. This is a very healthy sample size but in the rapidly changing world of social media it can be like comparing baseball teams from the dead ball and steroid eras. Think of how dramatically business pages have changed during those three years. Think of how our understanding of how to use and interact with Facebook has changed, as well.
2) This covers 1,640,000 posts and 7,560,000 comments on 1,500 brand streams. A healthy sample size – to be sure – but limited in its scope. The exact number of business pages currently active on Facebook is a moving target but it is safe to say that 1500 is a small – but statistically reliable – sample.
3) ‘Likes’ and ‘Shares’ are excluded from the study. The significance of this cannot be ignored. In the end, your goal is to get as many likers as you can. The bigger your audience is the wider your reach becomes. ‘Likes’ and ‘Shares’ are a significant way to measure how effective you are in engaging your audience. That said, you have to start somewhere.
4) All measurement was done through their proprietary Vitrue Publisher platform. From a pure research standpoint this is a self-limited sample. While that does not render the conclusions invalid you do need to remember that this focuses on Vitrue’s clients – not the general Facebook population.
Caveats aside, this still offers an interesting glimpse into how and when people interact with brand pages on Facebook.
This first chart from the study shows peak involvement:
Activity peaks at 3PM EST but with the strongest involvement between 11A and 8P. This makes sense as many people interact with Facebook during work hours. At the same time, it also means your messages have higher competition during those hours. This is a wide time frame and the risk of that 11A post disappearing down your fan’s wall by 8P is relatively high. On the other hand, posting at the height of the activity period means you’re fishing where the fish are and stand a better chance of being seen.
The second chart shows the peak activity time during each hour:
According to this, posts in the first fifteen minutes of each hour are most likely to be seen. There is a significant difference (20%) between posting at the beginning vs. the end of an hour. However, the difference between posting from :00-:15 is only 11-12% more advantageous than posting between :16 and :45 in the hour. Keep in mind that this question measures when responses occur – not when you should be posting. One could surmise that a post between :46 and :59 isn’t seen until after the top of the hour.
Since so many people interact with Facebook during their workday I think it is more important to think about when you post during the day than during the hour.
This third chart may be the most significant. Back in September I wrote about another Vitrue study and compared it with data from Dan Zaranella about which is the best day of the week for Facebook posting. Now we have this:
Based on this data you should post your content between 12:00 and 12:15PM EST on Wednesdays. Does that mean if you post on Monday morning at 9:30 or Thursday afternoon at 5:54 you won’t be seen? Of course not.
The world of Facebook – and all social media – continues to be a wild west show. As more people participate – and existing participants become more involved – the data will change. You can be sure there will be more studies before the year is out. And, we’ve yet to get a definitive read from Facebook itself – the true holder of all the data.
What this study does provide is a guideline for smart posting. Don’t focus on the minute granular data. You’ll drive yourself crazy. See this, instead, as a view from 30,000 feet. Use it as a guideline for opportunities.
There is a certain randomness to social media. The most compelling content posted at the optimal time could be missed just…because. In the end, the quality of your postings is infinitely more important than where you place them.
Still, we can use all the help we can get. Which is why I’m posting this on a Wednesday.
Social Media Specialist