In times of declining reach and increasing competitive pressure, the best time to post on Facebook seems to become more and more important. Everyone wants to hit the sweet spot when most of his fans are online. But how does a post behave after it has been released to the fans? How long after publication do fans still like and comment? When does the life of a post begin and end? And if we knew, how important would it still be to post at the perfect moment?
To answer these questions, we spent more than half a year collecting data of posts of more than 5000 companies in very short intervals. The results are summarized here for you. At the end, there is an infographic that visualizes the findings.
The first minutes count…
Once a post is posted on Facebook, the clock starts ticking. In the first hour, a post receives the majority of its reactions from the fans. More than half of all likes, comments and shares will be issued in the first 60 minutes. The most likes and comments are given directly in the first quarter of an hour. Shares behave a little different. The posts are most often shared with a fifteen minutes delay. However, after 7 p.m. shares behave unison with likes and comments: In the evening, in the first quarter of an hour posts are shared most frequently. The decline of the share rate in the subsequent period, however, is much slower. The share-behavior thus extends over a longer period.
…depending on the time of day
The lifetime of a post in terms of likes, comments and shares from fans is highly dependent on the time of day. Posts that are published in the morning immediately experience a wave of reactions, which declines first strongly and then continuously until the evening hours. Posts that are published in the evening have a much shorter but more intense life. Reactions explode in the first minutes – much stronger than in the morning posts. But the activity ebbs much faster as well. An hour after the publication. an evening-post has fewer reactions per minute than it’s morning equivalent. Athough at this time of day, many users are online.
Posts have two lifes
Posts at midnight get very few responses. The first wave of reactions as well as the flattening of the curve are substantially lower than at other times of the day. On the next day, however, we discovered something amazing: Every morning posts return from the dead. Between 7 and 10 a.m. all posts experience a brief second spring. At this time, Facebook recycles posts of the previous day. Is it in order to reach users who were not online yesterday or because of a shortage of fresh posts? The latter seems rather unlikely, given the mass of content that is uploaded every single minute on Facebook. It is more probable that Facebook takes advantage of good content from the night before – rated with likes from a few night owls and not seen by the vast majority of users – to be able to fill the newsfeed with interesting content for the early morning birds.
Summing it all up, the data suggests that there is no perfect time for a post. While posts in the morning live longer through the day, evening posts appear to achieve high interaction rates in a shorter time. Only posts very late at night show significantly less interaction.