One of the most frequently asked questions about social media marketing is: What is the best time to post on Facebook?

When we Google this question, we find that there are slews of experts and insiders offering definitive answers. Some say weekdays are the best time to post on Facebook, others say weekends. One narrows down optimal posting time to Wednesdays at 1 p.m., another swears by Thursdays and Fridays at 4. Whose advice should you follow?

The Best Time to Post on Facebook Is When Your Audience Is on Facebook

Luckily, you no longer have to take anyone’s word for it. Facebook now provides easy-to-use analytics tools so each of us can track the behavior of our page’s visitors and determine the best time to post on Facebook based on our specific audience. After all, there are a lot of people on Facebook and they don’t all follow the same schedule. The best time to post on Facebook depends on who you are trying to reach and how you are trying to engage them.

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Accessing Facebook Insights

  1. Log into your Business Manager
  2. Click on Insights > Posts > When Your Fans Are Online
  3. Take a look at the Days chart. If you’re a small business with limited time for producing and publishing Facebook content, you’ll want to post on days that the majority of your audience logs in.
  4. Take a look at the Times graph to zero-in on specific times of day.

Experimenting with the Data

You may need to go through a few rounds of trial and error before you feel like you’re synching up with your audience and getting maximum value from your posts. Here are some things to try:

Experiment #1: For one week, post Facebook content only on your top two or three most visited days. Compare engagement on those days with the engagement you’re used to getting. Does it help to post content only on these high-audience days? If not, try again. Post a day before high-audience days, as Facebook posts tend to peak anywhere between a few hours to a day later. Again, compare results and take note.

The next step is to test out the best times of day for posting. If you click on your “best” days, you’ll see a dark blue line indicating peak audience times for that specific day.

Experiment #2: Test publishing your content during those peak times. Then test again by posting a few hours before the peak. Compare results.

Please note that these times are unique to your fan base and will probably fluctuate. They may even change from month to month—so check back often, test, and keep optimizing.

What Content Should You Post?

Now that you’ve got the hang of using Facebook Insights, it’s important to remember that while timing is important, it isn’t everything. What time you publish your posts won’t matter all that much if your audience simply isn’t interested in what you have to say.

Doug Karr of Marketing Tech Blog explains that the best time to post on Facebook is “when you have time and have something of value to share.” Facebook Insights comes in handy once again in helping us determine what content our audience responds to most.

Rank Your Posts by Performance

Below “When Your Fans Are Online,” under the heading “All Posts Published,” you’ll find posts from the past three months listed in chronological order. You can click on the inverted arrow to the very right above the chart to view your posts by various engagement performance criteria. If you want them ranked by engagement, just click on the engagement column header to sort.

  • Post Clicks/Likes, Comments, and Shares: See which posts received the most overall engagement. This ranking includes “visible” forms of engagement that your audience can also keep track of (likes, comments, shares) because Facebook shows them next to each post. It also includes “behind the scenes” forms of engagement such as clicking on links, hashtags, and photos embedded in your post.
  • Likes, Comments & Shares: Remove “Post clicks” to simply see “visible” engagement.
  • Post Hides, Hides of All Posts, Reports of Spam, and Unlikes of Page: See which posts led to negative engagement, or actions that caused you to lose audience members and brand visibility.
  • Engagement Rate: Rank your posts by the percentage of people who saw a post that liked, shared, clicked or commented on it. It’s possible that a post on this list wasn’t seen by as many people, but the people who saw it were more like to engage with it. If so, you’ll want to promote similar posts in the future to a wider audience.

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Some Questions to Keep in Mind

Here are some questions to ask yourself as you figure out what your audience is most receptive to.

  • What type of content does my audience respond to: text (in the form of status updates), links, photos, or videos?
  • Do they most enjoy curated or original content?
  • What subjects capture their attention: news, product updates, tips, promotional deals, contests?
  • Do they only have time for short and snappy, or do they prefer to dig into meatier content?
  • Does my audience respond better to a formal or a more casual casual tone?

Being able to answer these questions will help you maximize your Facebook presence and deliver content that your audience wants to see. Coupled with what you’ve discovered about the best time to post on Facebook, you can now ensure that you’re giving your audience what they want, when they want it. Give it a try and share a comment below on how it went.