“While marketers may work Monday through Friday, Facebook is humming with activity 24-hours a day, seven days a week,” says Buddy Media CEO Michael Lazerow. And so, brands must adapt to their consumers’ schedules in order to optimize their engagement.
Here are the findings, along with tips about when and how to make the most of a Facebook post.
The study found that daily Facebook engagement has three peaks: early morning (7 a.m. EST), after work (5 p.m. EST) and late at night (11 p.m. EST). Therefore, posting all of your updates during the workday means you’re missing key opportunities to engage fans at non-work hours. However, not all brands’ engagement peaks at these three times — Playboy engagement peaks in the wee hours of the morning, for example — so you must work on a case-by-case basis.
Good timing on Facebook depends on the day of the week, too. Thursday and Friday have 18% more engagement than other days of the week, suggesting that Facebook is a procrastination tool when people are itching to get out of the office. But don’t start stacking all of your Facebook updates on Thursday and Friday — the study found interesting user patterns and engagement trends throughout the week that are unique to particular industries. Below, the findings are broken down by market so that you can see where entire industries are missing the mark and where — or rather, when — there’s room for improvement.
- Entertainment: Friday, Saturday and Sunday are huge, as that is when people are most inclined to see a movie or go to a concert. However, entertainment brands post twice as much content on a weekday than a Saturday or Sunday.Tip: Take advantage of the weekend.
- Media: Weekends have strong engagement for media brands, but Mondays are weak. During the study period, most posts went out during the week.Tip: Avoid Monday.
- Automotive: Auto brands see the most engagement on Sundays, but less than 8% of posts go out on that day.Tip: Capitalize on Sunday.
- Business and Finance: Engagement peaks on Wednesday and Thursday, though this industry tends to spread its posts even on Monday through Friday.Tip: Post on Wednesday.
The findings for the retail vertical.
- Retail: Sunday is a big day for engagement on the shopping and retail front, but only 5% of entertainment posts go up on Sunday. The industry’s posts lean heavily toward Friday, which has below-average engagement.Tip: Target shoppers on Sunday.
- Fashion: Engagement peaks on Thursday but dips on the weekend. The industry pushes the most content on Tuesday, the day with the lowest engagement.
Tip: Optimize engagement on Thursday.
- Healthcare and Beauty: Like fashion — perhaps because consumers are shopping and preparing for the weekend — healthcare and beauty brands see the most engagement on Thursday. But a lot of content is posted on Mondays and Fridays, when engagement is lower.
Tip: Post content on Thursday.
- Food and Beverage: More than the other verticals, the food and beverage brands do a good job of spreading their posts throughout the week and weekend. But in this case, engagement peaks on Tuesday and Saturday and dips on Monday and Thursday.
Tip: Target Tuesday.
- Sports: Not surprisingly, especially during football season, Sunday is king for sports brands and teams on Facebook. This data is affected by the fact that Super Bowl Sunday fell during the data collection period, but Sundays remain strong during other weeks, too.
Tip: Increase your post volume on Sunday.
- Travel and Hospitality: The highest engagement occurs on Thursday and Friday, when the week is winding down and people are looking to escape from the office.
Tip: Get these eyeballs at the end of the week.
Joe Ciarallo, Buddy Media’s director of communications, says a lot of smart brands already target their audiences when they’re most engaged. For those who don’t, Ciarallo says they should consider scheduling Facebook posts to go live during times of high engagement at night and on weekends.
The data indicates that the length of the post can determine engagement just as much as the time of the post. The bottom line: Keep it short and sweet. Posts with 80 characters or less — the length of a short tweet — garnered 27% more engagement than posts that were more than 80 characters. But brevity is far from a common practice — only 19% of posts in the study were shorter than 80 characters.
And while the content should be short, the URL probably shouldn’t be — posts with a full-length URL had three times the engagement of their shortened bit.ly, ow.ly and tinyurl counterparts. The reason is likely because readers want to know where the link will take them. Ciarallo says a brand-specific URL shortener, like bddy.me or on.mash, keeps a post short while also providing context.
Ask For Engagement
Words ranked in order of their effectiveness at converting Likes and comments.
If you’re looking to get Likes on a post, all you have to do is ask. Ciarallo says simple, outright instructions — “Like us if … ” — are much more effective at getting a Like than a post with a long explanation of why you should “like” something. Remember, “liking” only takes one click and then the “liked” item is syndicated on a user’s own page, so don’t be afraid to ask for the thumbs up.
The same goes for comments — outright saying “post,” “comment” or “tell us” motivates fans to engage. If you’re seeking answers, put a simple “where” or “when” or “would” question at the end of the post — you’ll get 15% more engagement than if the question is buried in the middle. Shy away from “why” questions, as they seem invasive and ask much more of a user than a “what” question, Ciarallo says.
Advice for Smaller Brands
These findings are insightful and can help brands better target their consumers, but it is important to note that the brands studied are all large and well-established. While URL shortening is a good idea for all brands, the day and time findings may not apply to businesses of all sizes within each industry.
For small businesses, it’s important to balance the data above with what you know about your own brand, based on Facebook Insights and your own experiences with your Page. “Small brands can take away some best practices from this, but remember that the data set is all large brands,” Ciarallo says. “Still, a boutique hotel owner could look at the hospitality section and see how it can help his Facebook marketing.”
He also says it’s important to realize the social marketing space is constantly evolving, and these statistics can change in a matter of months. If every brand begins to post when the engagement is high, then engagement either will increase because of the optimization, or it may decrease because there’s so much noise at the high-engagement times. Only time will tell for the long term.
“This is 200 large brands over two weeks, so it’s a large data set, but things are moving fast,” meaning your Facebook marketing program must be flexible, Ciarallo says. Though this is the first study of its kind that Buddy Media has publicly released, Ciarallo foresees future reports like this one to help brands maximize engagement in an ever-changing marketing environment.
What engagement tips have you picked up from your Facebook Page? Tell us in the comments.