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May 10 / King Kaufman

The best time to Tweet, Facebook, Tumblr: Research from Bitly

If you want your tweet to be seen by the most people, you probably want to tweet between 1 and 3 p.m. Eastern time, Monday through Thursday.

That’s what the URL shortener Bitly says it’s learned from studying how content moves through social networks. The service says in a blog post:

For Twitter, posting in the afternoon earlier in the week is your best chance at achieving a high click count (1-3pm Monday through Thursday). Posting after 8pm should be avoided. Specifically, don’t bother posting after 3pm on a Friday since, as far as being a gateway to drive traffic to your content, it appears that Twitter doesn’t work on weekends.

Bitly didn’t just study Twitter. The optimal time for Facebook is almost the same, 1 to 4 p.m., with 3 p.m. Wednesday—Eastern time, remember—being the peak moment, and weekends again being a dead zone.

Tumblr, though, is a whole different animal:

Tumblr likes to party! This network shows a drastically different pattern of usage from Facebook and Twitter. One should wait until at least 4pm to post. Also postings after 7pm on average receive more clicks over 24 hours than content posted mid-day during the week. Friday evening, a no-man’s land on other platforms, is an optimal time to post on Tumblr.

It’s important to note that what Bitly studied is click-throughs in the 24 hours after the post, so the best time to post something isn’t necessarily when traffic is peaking. For example, with Twitter:

The peak traffic times for Twitter are 9am through 3pm, Monday through Thursday. Posting on Twitter when there are many people clicking does help raise the average number of clicks, but it in no way guarantees an optimal amount of attention, since there is more competition for any individual’s attention. An optimal strategy must weigh the number of people paying attention against the number of other posts vying for that attention.

Another variable to think about is that Bitly is looking at national trends here. You have to understand your own social network, which might behave differently from the nation as a whole.

For example, I run two Twitter feeds, @BR_WriterHQ for the Bleacher Report Writer HQ and this blog and @king_kaufman, my personal feed. According to the SocialBro app, my followers for those two feeds are online at almost exactly opposite times.

For @king_kaufman, my followers start coming online around 6 a.m. ET, are online in big numbers from about 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., then begin checking out, with a big drop at 5 p.m. and another at 8 p.m. In other words, people on both coasts, and presumably in between, are online at work. My peak time for followers being online is Wednesday at 2 p.m. ET. All of this lines up pretty well with Bitly’s findings.

But @BR_WriterHQ is almost a mirror image. That feed’s followers start coming online around noon Easter time, and start showing up in big numbers around 6 p.m. They’re online a lot from 7 p.m. to 5 a.m., when they go offline en masse. My peak traffic periods are Wednesday at 10 p.m. and Friday at 7 p.m. ET, times Bitly says I shouldn’t be tweeting.

By 9 a.m., when @king_kaufman’s followers are coming online in droves, @BR_WriterHQ has virtually no followers online. My guess is that a lot of people who follow @BR_WriterHQ are students who can’t be online while they’re in class.

Given Bitly’s caveat that peak traffic periods are not necessarily the best times to post, I don’t know what the best time is for me to post on my two feeds. But I’m fairly certain it’s not the same time for both. Have you figured out the best times to post on Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr or any other social networks?

For further reading and insight, here’s Mashable and Poynter on the Bitly study, and, via Poynter’s Jeff Sonderman, a hugely informative post from last year by Dave Larson of Tweetsmarter called “The most complete guide to finding the best time to Tweet.” It’s been updated to reflect Bitly’s new research.

  • Isaac Smith

    By 9 a.m….@BR_WriterHQ has virtually no followers online.

    “My guess is that a lot of people who follow @BR_WriterHQ are students who can’t be online while they’re in class.”

    If you’re talking about college/university students they probably haven’t gotten out of bed yet :P