If you observe viewing habits on social media for a while, you know that the best times to post not only vary from social platform to platform, but from year to year as well. These changes are usually gradual, but COVID-19 isolation has changed how everyone uses social media, which has brought some big changes in the post times that receive the most engagement. A report from Sprout Social actually got down into the weeds of post timings in the age of social distancing, and this is what they found. All times are for the Eastern Time Zone (EST).
Previously, the best time to post on Facebook was on Wednesday at 10 a.m. and again at 12 to 1 p.m. In fact, Wednesday was a peak day overall. That’s now changed as the best times to post on Facebook are Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 9 to 10 a.m. Taking that a step further, every day at 10 a.m. showed a peak in engagement compared to the rest of the day.
Weekends and weekdays showed a big drop off, however, so best to do your posting much earlier in the day.
Like Facebook before COVID, Wednesday at 10 a.m. and Friday from 9 to 10 a.m. were the best times to post on Instagram. Now, it looks like Monday, Tuesday and Friday at 10 a.m. and Tuesday at 1 p.m. are the optimum times to post.
What hasn’t changed is that there’s a drop off after 6 p.m. That said, Sunday used to be the worst day to post but now the weekend between 9 and 5 p.m. garners significant attention.
Twitter times haven’t changed much pre or post-COVID except for the fact that the current best time to post on Twitter is Friday at 6 and 8 a.m., with 8 a.m. showing the peak of activity.
What We Do On Social Has Changed
Our social platform behavior during isolation has certainly changed in a surprising way. According to the report:
- Facebook: Outgoing posts decreased by an average of 1.8 posts/day
- Instagram: Outgoing posts decreased by 1.9 posts/day
- Twitter: Outgoing posts decreased by 2.3 posts/day
And that’s not all:
- Facebook comments decreased by 5.6 per day
- Facebook PMs decreased by 2.1 per day
- Twitter @ messages decreased by 16 per day
- Twitter Retweets decreased by 20.8 per day
But Instagram comments increased by 6.4 per day.
I would’ve expected both the number of posts and engagement to go up during isolation, but it looks like social media usage has given way to video viewing instead. The question is, will this still hold true when we come out the other side?