Why there is no best time to post on social media (hint: it’s the algorithms!)

Elana Kenton

By Elana Kenton


Reading Time: 3 minutes

When is the best time to post to social media? It’s a question as old as Facebook and Twitter itself.

And for good reason. The timing of your tweets could lead to your video going viral, instead of being posted into the void without even a single like or retweet.

But with the rise of social media algorithms, the timing of your social media posts has become less and less important. We’ll explain why, plus give you a few tips on how to make sure your posts are still getting seen and responded to, no matter what time you publish them.

Why timing used to be important on social media

Social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook used to show people’s updates in chronological order.

This meant that if you posted at a certain time, then your followers would have to be online at the same time in order to see your content. Otherwise, they’d miss your all important photo of what you’d had for breakfast.

Timing of social media posts was so vital that whole services popped up to help you find the best time to post your social media messages, such as FollowerWonk and Buffer

Social media management tool Hootsuite also introduced a feature that optimised your social media posts to send at the time most likely to get engagements from your followers.

Why there is no best time to post on social media

For most websites, traffic often shows the most visits during rush hours and lunch time when people have time to spend time exploring and reading long-form content, so the assumption was that social was the same. 

However, unlike websites, social media platforms are created to make us check them frequently, and they do this, very successfully, by showing us more of what we like to see – more of the content we engage with. .

Most of the social media algorithms work on this premise by showing users the most engaged content from the people, groups or pages they are following – for example, on LinkedIn you may see posts from 2 weeks ago if they’ve received  a lot of engagement. 

Social media is 24/7 365. It doesn’t work on a schedule. It’s never ending. How many times do you check it and when? Is it the same time each day? The national grid used to power up during the commercial breaks for Coronation Street – when people would switch on the kettle. They’re now checking social while they’re doing that. And also while they’re watching Corrie, on catch up, at 11pm. 

Social happens concurrently, globally, and always. Unless you are posting about a specific event to the people interested in that event, times and days don’t matter. 

How do you make your content visible and live as long as possible? 

You do this by not only getting your followers to engage, but getting their followers or friends to engage too. 

Each layer of engagement is an indicator to the platforms of how much attention your content has. The platforms thrive by showing people more of what they like – the more attention something gets, the more people see it, the longer it lives in feeds. 

The time you  post competes with the number of other posts each follower has in their feed (depending on how many are publishing and who they are following), the news agenda, the posts people have engaged with previously (so they see more of) and many other uncontrollable elements.

The agenda changes all the time so a fixed idea of the best time to post is not the most important priority or thing that determines the best outcome. 

What you should focus your social media activity on

We recommend focussing more on what your followers want to see and will engage with, and this will come down to testing what works best from the content format (e.g. video, image, animation), copy length, hashtags, people you are tagging, calls to action, etc. to help create the most engagement and opportunity for the post to remain in feeds for longer.

Understanding what your audience wants to know and how they like to be informed is key to testing the best hypothesis, integrating the best platform tools, optimising ongoing and tracking the most useful metrics to maintain and improve content visibility and engagement. 

And now you know why there is no best time to post on social media in 2020 – blame the algorithms and focus on getting engagements instead!

If you’d like to chat to us about how you can make the most of your content, drop me a line at elana@empower.agency

Leave a Comment