“Okay. The post is done. Let’s publish it!”
“Only if you don’t want anyone to see it.”
If you are anything like me, you don’t usually stop to consider the WHEN, just the How and Where, as you’re about to hit ‘Publish’ and/or share your post. It’s the internet. It’ll be there forever, right?
Yeah. By the time your audience is up and about, it’ll be buried under piles and mounds of other content and distractions.
According to data gathered from Global Web Index by We are Social, here’s how many hours-per-day people actually spend using the internet (globally):
Now, the data is also saying that over half of that time (almost two-thirds, in fact) is spent on social media:
Count in other online activities – sharing memes, rage-fighting trolls on YouTube videos’ comment sections or Twitter, shopping, stalking exes on social media… That leaves barely enough time to read content.
This is why timing matters: you want to reach out to your audience when they are tuning in specifically to read content.
For some, it’s important to avoid busy (competitive) times, when everyone else is peddling their content in a savage rush for readers’ attention and clicks. For others, it’s more important to be the first to break the news to the netizens. Regardless of your motivation, to get maximum exposure, you have to know where your post fits in your readers’ schedule.
Here’s what research can tell you:
2017 Report for Social Sharing
In their study titled How to Build a Better Blog than Your Competitors, Trackmaven pulled data on more than 18 million blog posts and over 1.9 trillion social shares on the Big Four of social media (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Pinterest).
Here are their key findings on best times for social sharing:
- Wednesdays are the most competitive day of the week to publish your blog post; time of day is 12 noon EST. Your post, when published during this time, is more likely to get lost in the crowd.
- Sunday is the least popular day of the week for publishing, but great for social shares-per-post.
- 2 a.m. EST is the least popular time of day to publish blog posts but doesn’t do poorly in terms of social shares. This gives your post a higher chance of being discovered or seen by a global audience (hence the relatively high number of shares).
- Blogs posted on Friday (any time) OR at 1 a.m. EST (any day) receive the fewest social shares.
Use this data in order to devise your posting/sharing strategy – can your post compete against the others’ at a given day or time? The answer will vary depending on your post type and audience time zones, so tread carefully.
Science of Social Timing
This extensive research by Dan Zarrella, Search Engine Land, and HubSpot is by far one of the most comprehensive studies ever done on online time-use and social sharing behavior.
Here are the three parts, and their individual key takeaways:
- 6% of all retweets occur around 5 PM
- 1-4 tweets per hour (links) gives you the highest CTR (350%)
- CTR is typically the highest in midweek and weekends
- CTR spikes around lunch hours and when people are getting home from work.
- Most shares occur on Saturdays
- …around noon and after 7 PM
- To get more page-likes, avoid over-crowding your content shares
How well do you understand your subscribers? The data gives insights into best times to send emails (depending on your niche), along with:
- Abuse reports: Highest during early mornings and weekends
- Bounce rates: Highest during early mornings and weekends (sheesh!)
- Open rates: Highest during early mornings and weekends (ok…)
- Click rates: Also highest during early mornings and weekends.
That’s a landmine of a time to send in your newsletter…
- Highest ‘unsubscribe’ rates: Within 10 days of user subscribing to your mailing list. Hook ‘em if you want to keep ‘em early in the game, because…
- Highest CTR: ALSO within 10 days and after 100+ days of subscribing to your mailing list.
Part three of this study goes on to explain the pros and cons of active vs. night-time hours, giving you direct, actionable insight to use for your posting and sharing strategies:
- Pros: More visitors, comments, and engagement
- Cons: Less prominence and higher bounce rate due to noise
- Pros: More prominence and easier front page promotions
- Cons: Fewer visitors and less engagement
Data also says that:
- 70% users read blogs in the AM hours (among other times).
- Highest Traffic: Most blogs get it on Mondays, around 11AM
- Most Comments: Blogs typically get high engagement (comments) on Saturday, around 9AM
- Most Inbound Links: Blogs receive them during weekdays (Monday to Thursday), around 7AM
- More content == more unique pageviews and inbound links
Getting to Know Your Social Readers
In one of their insightful insider guides, Chartbeat looked at the data from websites in its network. Their findings reveal that:
- From morning to early afternoon, social traffic underperforms overall traffic.
- During evenings and nights, social traffic performs significantly better than overall traffic.
The data gives a similar verdict for Twitter, where tweeting reaches its peak in the afternoon and early evening, but traffic from Twitter only picks up from noon to midnight.
If your goal is reach, late afternoon through night is the best time to attract readers on social media and get them to click through to your site. – Getting to Know Your Social Readers
Creating a Custom Report
Pinpoint Best Publishing Times and Days for Your Blog
The above data, while extensively collated, paints a generalized picture of time-spend and posting/sharing efficiency. As any conversion optimizer will tell you, what works for others may not work for you.
Analytics to the rescue! Here’s how you can find out when your specific audience is checking out your content:
- In the main tab, click Customization >> New Custom Report
- Name your report “Pageviews by Day and Hour”. Select type: Flat table
- Keep the first reporting tab for Day of the Week. Set Dimensions (Day of the Week) and Metrics (Pageviews)
- Click on +add report tab. Select type: Flat table. Set Dimensions (Hour of Day) and Metrics (Pageviews)
Click “Save” and you’ll be taken to the report. Flat tables are pretty simple, but if you like your graphs (as I do), simply edit the report and select type (in each reporting tab) to ‘Explorer’.
I’d advise you make a similar report for visits (to count individual sessions instead of pageviews) and add segmentation to find out times for:
- Direct (organic) traffic
- Referral Traffic
- Social Media Traffic (Create Custom Segment that ‘matches regex’ for your social platforms (facebook\.com|linkedin\.com|twitter\.com…and so on) )
- Bounced sessions
You’d be surprised by your own data.