If you don’t post your content at the right time on Facebook, nobody will see it.
It makes sense that you should post your content at times when your readers are likely to be browsing through Facebook. But what if I were to tell you there’s more to it?
What if I were to tell you that research has now given us an answer deeply rooted in our physiology to finally answer the question: When is the best time to post on Facebook?
In an attempt to be complete in answering the question, I want to give you the two considerations for deciding the best time to post content on Facebook so that your readers will see it AND their heightened physiological state at that precise point in time will make them as much as 70% more likely to share your material.
Interested? This is powerful stuff.
Consideration 1 – Know Your Audience
There isn’t a general answer for the best time to post on Facebook — it changes depending on your audience.
The rule is to post at times when your audience is most likely to be sifting through their news feeds — or when they are sitting around bored. To illustrate how much this changes from industry to industry, allow me to give you two examples:
Example #1 – Personal Trainers
5-7am – Breakfast, answering emails, and quickly browsing Facebook.
7am-11am – Clients.
11am-3pm – Dead zone. Trainers have nothing to do in the middle of the day. So they workout, get coffee, read, and spend a lot of time on Facebook.
3pm-8pm – Clients.
8pm-11pm – Home time.
All weekdays are generally the same. A lot of trainers work the morning on Saturday and take Sundays off.
According to this schedule, the best times to post on Facebook are first thing in the morning, midday, and at night.
This is vague and pretty superficial. In consideration #2, I get a lot more detailed. Allow me use one more example to illustrate consideration 1 first.
Example #2 – Office Workers
6-8am – Breakfast while reading the newspaper, answering emails, or perusing Facebook.
8sm-12pm – Travel and work.
12pm-1pm – Lunch.
1pm-5pm – Travel and work.
5pm – 12am – Home time.
As the week nears an end, people with office jobs seem to go on Facebook more often between the hours of 3pm-5pm to procrastinate. Saturday mornings are usually pretty busy and Sundays a bit more relaxes.
Assuming that the office doesn’t block Facebook, the best times to post are first thing in the morning, possibly over lunch hour, and nighttime.
Now Comes the fun part: Consideration 2 – Physiological Arousal
A study done by Jonah Berger in 2011 had 40 students split into two groups. Group 1 was told to sit still for 60s and group 2 was asked to jog in spot for 60s. Then both groups were asked to rate the brightness of 5 images (a task to cover up the real reason for the study).
What happened next is that both groups were asked to participate in a second, apparently un-related, study. Here, they read an online news article and had the option to email it to anyone they wanted, or not email it at all.
In the group of joggers, the percentage of people who emailed the study jumped from 33% to 75%!
That’s a 50% increase in social transmission for no other reason than the reader was physiological aroused from the jog.
I Did My Own Study
Just knowing when personal trainers were bored sifting through Facebook creeping on pictures of their ex-girlfriends beach vacation wasn’t enough. I wanted to figure out the exact time that they were on Facebook AND physiologically aroused.
Below is a screenshot of the question I asked on my personal Facebook page (~6,000), thePTDC Facebook page (~15,000), and on Fitocracy (~20,000). Within 14hrs I had 300+ responses and stopped tracking.
I then created a spreadsheet and enlisted some administrative help to figure out what times of the day and week the majority of my followers exercised. I then compared that list with the times I had already identified from consideration #1 above and identified the precise times of the day when my readership was online and aroused.
From these results, I created a new Google calender and entered in a reminder to post at the top times each day. Before going to sleep the night, I’ll schedule viral posts to publish at my predetermined times the following day. Note that every Facebook page has 3 types of content. Viral is only a piece of the puzzle.
One Last Thing
The reason why jogging was used in Bergers study is that it acts to raise physiological arousal devoid of emotion. I’ve tried experiments in the past where I’ve used sexual images to raise physiological arousal in males. I’ve no doubt that the pictures I used aroused my audience but the effect on sharing is quite different. To be blunt, most of them either wanted to keep the photo to themselves or they were embarrassed to share it.
When I first read this study, a light bulb went off; it makes perfect sense. Upon finishing a workout I’m a completely different person. I’m happy and my reaction to whatever I come across in the hour that follows is inevitably positive.
What do you do if your target readership isn’t personal trainers?
Think what time they are most likely to be active, start a survey monkey (free survey site), or poll them. For example, I have a couple coaching clients that target young mothers. This demographic often goes for a walk later on in the evening. So sharing at 9-11pm is a great time.
Isn’t science fun?
Now get some exercise. Jump up and down 10 times, sit back down, and share this post on Facebook, Twitter, or email it to a friend.
Jonah Berger (2011), Arousal Increases Social Transmission of Information, Psychological Science, 22(7), 891-893.