When are the best times to post on social media? As a marketer for any institution in higher education, a vital part of your social media strategy is answering that question.
Thankfully, we’ve gathered the latest answers for you.
Here’s your quick guide to the best times to post in 2020 for the big four – Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn – and for the up-and-comer, TikTok.
(I should note that at the time of writing, TikTok’s future is up in the air. Obviously, that portion of this article below will only be useful to you if TikTok remains active in the U.S.)
First off, here are the best times to post in general.
According to HootSuite, the best time to post on social media is between 9 a.m. and noon EST, early in the workweek (i.e. Monday to Wednesday). Other sites, including the American Marketing Association, provide direction on the best times to post as well.
That is speaking very generally.
That data applies across the spectrum from small retailers to Fortune 500 companies. There are exceptions for many industries, including higher education, so read on.
Best Times to Post on Facebook
While it’s true that your primary target audience, Gen Z, is increasingly turning to other platforms like Instagram and TikTok, Facebook is still an important part of your strategy.
But good timing definitely helps.
According to HootSuite, the best time to post on Facebook for “B2C brands” – which is how you should think of your institution when trying to reach prospective students and families – is 12 p.m. EST on Monday, Tuesday, or Wednesday.
SproutSocial’s data is more specific about the day, and suggests before or after lunch is best: Wednesdays at 11 a.m. and/or 1 – 2 p.m. Though, in general, it appears posting anytime between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. on weekdays is pretty safe.
However, when Terminalfour focused on SproutSocial’s data for universities, you find some variation.
The best times for engagement were found to be Wednesday at 9 a.m. and, surprisingly, Saturday at 5 p.m. The most consistent engagement is during weekday mornings, 9 a.m – 12 p.m., while on Saturday the highest engagement period was from midday to 9 p.m.
In addition, it’s worth noting what to avoid:
- Sunday is the worst time of the week for Facebook engagement.
- Early mornings and evenings, before 7 a.m. and after 5 p.m., are the worst time of day.
Best Times to Post on Twitter
Twitter boasts strong numbers and an active audience, which is why you’re there. Your institution can really move the needle on enrollment with a good Twitter strategy.
However, since the average lifespan of a tweet is just 18 minutes, timing is more important on Twitter than any other network.
Again, for B2C brands like the one your enrollment team has created, the best time to post on Twitter is at 12 p.m. or 1 p.m. EST from Monday to Wednesday.
A little disagreement here. According to SproutSocial, the best times to post on Twitter are Wednesday at 9 a.m. and Friday at 9 a.m., making Wednesday the common factor. The safe zone is Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. – 4 p.m.
For universities, the best time for consistent engagement in the week was Wednesday 8 a.m. to 12 p.m., which tracks with the general data, but also Friday at 9 a.m. Saturday afternoon into the evening has fairly high engagement as well.
What to avoid:
- Saturday gets the least Twitter engagement for the week.
- The lowest daily engagement period is 10 p.m – 4 a.m.
Best Times to Post on Instagram
Even with TikTok pulling eyeballs, Instagram remains an incredibly trendy draw among young people.
As this growing network is such a powerful tool for your enrollment marketing efforts, it’s worth checking to see if you’re not shooting yourself in the foot with bad post timing.
In general, the best time to post on Instagram is 12 p.m. to 1 p.m. EST, Monday to Friday.
Suggesting you post a little earlier and get more specific about days, SproutSocial’s data suggests the best times to post are Wednesday at 11 a.m. and Friday, 10 – 11 a.m., though the safe zone appears to be Tuesday through Friday, 10 a.m – 3 p.m., centering on Wednesday.
For higher education, however, Friday at 10 a.m. appears to be the best time to publish content. Other high engagement periods fell in the safe zone, i.e. Wednesday at 11 a.m., but outside of it as well, i.e. Friday, 11 a.m – 12 p.m and 2 p.m., and Saturday at 6 p.m. and 8 p.m.
What to avoid:
- Sunday is the worst day for engagement on Instagram.
- The worst times of day are late night and early morning, 11 p.m. – 3 a.m.
Best Times to Post to LinkedIn
LinkedIn may not be the first social network you think about when you’re crafting your enrollment strategy, but it offers you a lot of unique advantages.
To reach all your target audiences – prospects of various ages, influencers like parents and alumni, etc. – it really helps to utilize LinkedIn’s professional platform.
But again, good timing can make a huge difference in your effectiveness.
Interestingly, HootSuite conducted research against the standard of posting on the hour, and found they got better engagement at a quarter ‘til. They revealed that the best times to post on LinkedIn are 7:45 a.m., 10:45 a.m., 12:45 p.m., and 5:45 p.m. EST.
The best days for B2C brands (i.e. enrollment marketers like you) to post on LinkedIn are Monday and Wednesday.
Mostly in agreement, SproutSocial’s data says the best times to post are Wednesday, 8 – 10 a.m., and noon, but added Thursday at 9 a.m. and 1 – 2 p.m., and Friday at 9 a.m. are also good times. The safest times to post in general are Tuesday through Friday, 8 a.m. – 2 p.m.
There is essentially no variation from the general advice here for higher education. If you’re posting Tuesday through Friday, 8 a.m. – 2 p.m., you should be in good shape. However, you might want to test a variation like HootSuite did and get off the top of the hour.
What to avoid:
- Sunday is the worst day for engagement on LinkedIn.
- The least popular times to post are daily from 9 p.m. to 3 a.m.
The Best Times to Post on TikTok
As I’ve written about, TikTok is the new up-and-coming social media network worth paying attention to, because Gen Z is all over it.
Just being on it is a great start, but as more user timing data comes in, it’s a good idea to pay attention.
As Oberlo reported:
“According to Influencer Marketing Hub, in general, the global best times to post on TikTok are 6 am to 10 am and 7 pm to 11 pm, Eastern Standard Time (EST).”
They also found that:
“The highest levels of engagement happen at 9 am on Tuesday, 12 pm on Thursday, and 5 am on Friday.”
I thought that last statement was very interesting, given that it’s generally not ideal to post anywhere else at 5 a.m.!
It’s a good idea to check the data on the best times to post on social media every couple of years.
I’ve been watching social media data for years. I can tell you that, in general, human behavior doesn’t change so frequently that you can’t build and execute a good timing strategy.
But it does change, and it’s easy to one day find yourself five, ten years behind the curve.
I’m here to help you keep up. Contact me to ask about what my team can do to help you with social media, digital marketing and all your enrollment marketing efforts.
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Featured image by Doucefleur via Adobe Stock