It’s no secret that posting organically on Facebook can be difficult. In one of our previous blog posts, we talked about a recent News Feed algorithm update that has made it even harder for pages to reach their audience. The platform has virtually everyone on it; from your high school classmates, to your favorite football player, to your own grandmother.
What we found out in the course of one month while collecting data can be broken down into answering two questions:
What do I post?
When do I post it?
Testing, Testing, Testing
Test everything. At this point, marketers are beginning to sound like broken records. But really there’s no point in doing anything without at least testing how effective it is and then reviewing your findings to target opportunities for improvement. The same goes for your social media strategy.
If there is one stark advantage that Facebook has over any other social network is the amount of data available. Layers upon layers of data to provide insights on your audience. The normal interface provides a fair amount of information, but this really should be considered as an overview. To get to the real juicy numbers, you need to export information by page and by posts.
The amount of data is so immense that it can be daunting. Before you test anything it’s important to look at all the different data points and prioritize which ones you want to analyze.
Page data gives owners an idea of who their fans are based on typical demographic information. In this case you should only use page data to measure changes on a weekly basis by total new likes, unlikes, total post reach, and total number of people engaged.
Sharp week-to-week fluctuations can be compared against post performance to help explain these changes. Keep in mind that Facebook continually rolls out updates that can remove spammy or inactive accounts which can adversely alter your page data.
Whatever method you choose to measure performance of your posts, this is going to be the bread and butter of your testing. You can either use Facebook’s current post data, or manually create your own spreadsheet to record your findings. The idea is that for each post, you want to track what day it was posted, the official time, what type of post it is (link, photo, video, etc.), total engagement (comments, likes, shares), and the total organic reach.
What did we find?
With so many resources out there claiming to know the best time of day to post, it’s hard to nail down which is the most accurate or reliable. So we wanted to do our own testing.
Similar to other forms of marketing and advertising a brand might choose to employ, there is no one-size-fits-all. Your success will largely be determined by who your audience is and your industry.
Despite this harsh truth in attempting to understand social media, we still were able to find out a couple things. We can’t guarantee that what we found will work for you, but instead these points are things you might want to consider should you decide to attempt an organic approach on Facebook.
Day of the Week
Everything is cyclical. No two days are identical and very seldom should you consider historical data to be indicative of future behaviors. Testing the time of day is a continual process. For example one week we found that Friday at 4:45PM EST had the best organic reach. But when we posted the same time the following week, reach was significantly less.
The problem here is that trying to find the optimal time of day to post something is an oversimplification of a complex issue. We decided that for us we would test not only post during peak traffic times, but also less conventional times just to see what we would get.
Got a case of the Mondays? So does every
one else. Although not the best day for organic reach, you can still post on this day to keep up with engagement. Your best bet is posting between 11:50AM and 12:10PM. Posting after 5PM yielded little success.
From our experience, the absolute worst day to post on Facebook. Any content posted on Tuesdays should be lower priority. Unless of course something timely is happening on that day (eg. Cinco de Mayo) it’s always a good idea to ride trending topics. You’ll want to aim for posting something before 11AM or after 7PM.
Not the worst, but still not great. With slightly better reach than Mondays, the “golden” hour will be sometime around lunch (11:30AM – 12:30PM).
Now it gets interesting. For us, Thursday was the day with the highest amount of average traffic. Which might be because the work week is almost over and folks are looking early towards the weekend. It can be argued that a lot of other brands see similar information and want to post as well. Posting on Thursday is definitely a good idea, just realize that everyone else knows this too. Your best content needs to take priority. Best time? Any time after 3PM should be good, but try to avoid posting any earlier than that.
Friday will look very similar to Thursday. It was the day with the 2nd highest reach. Time of day still applies, but this is the day with the highest amount of fluctuations. 3PM is usually best, but photos will be your best bet to post at this time. Stay away from posting after 6PM since Friday had the lowest organic reach during those hours.
While Saturday has the lowest amount of user traffic, you can still reach your audience. There is less competition from other pages and people so you can really get an advantage. Scheduling natively or through tools like Hootsuite will be your friend. However it’s a good idea to check in routinely over the weekend to ensure you’re not walking into a nightmare come Monday morning.
Just like Saturday, Sunday is ripe with opportunity. Sunday has even higher traffic numbers with brands only now beginning to capitalize. Soon it might become very competitive, but for now you should keep it in mind when crafting content.
One very important side note for posting on the weekend: Don’t interrupt the user. It’s the weekend and they are likely not thinking about business. So when thinking about what to share, try to go for the lighter stuff or upcoming social events (Superbowl, Mothers Day, etc.).
What to Post
Facebook has become less of an actual social network as it is a point of content distribution. Blogging is incredibly valuable from an SEO standpoint. But the fact is that posting links outside of Facebook pales in comparison to visual content.
Compared to links and regular text updates, photos shared garnered 64% higher organic reach. Not only that, but photos also received a staggering 204.5% more engagement.
This makes sense because if you create something visually captivating and are able to keep a user’s attention for more than a couple seconds, they’ll probably be more likely to engage. More specifically the best performing posts were pictures of our team members. Make your brand more human and your audience will take notice.
Experimentation is Your Friend
Facebook is constantly making updates so what might be good today will be utterly useless tomorrow. Facebook in many ways is just like Google. It’s been successful for the most part because it keeps the end user in mind and constantly doing what they can to create the ultimate experience. Testing will help you identify your weaknesses and get better. Don’t get bogged down in past successes and always be willing to shake it up.