There’s a plethora of information to be found online when it comes to the best times to post to the various social networks. However, new research carried out by TrackMaven found that weekends is actually the time when you’re likely to gain more interaction with posts and therefore more reach.
The study analysed 5,804 Facebook pages, all of which had more than 1000 followers and looked at a combined total of 1,578,006 posts. It found that throughout the working week, post interactions remained pretty consistent. Thursdays saw a little more action by a very small margin, but nothing significant.
At the weekends, post publishing fell by almost a half, with just 9.04% of all posts put up on Saturdays, and just 8.73% on Sundays. This is no surprise, the majority of businesses using social media just leave it alone at the weekends. Whilst there’s not nearly so much posting carried out over the weekend, it was found that engagement with the posts showed a sharp upwards trend at the weekend.
In fact, the research found that on Sundays, posts were 25% more effective than those published on a Wednesday. Certainly this is food for thought for many businesses and an area where perhaps senior management, who tend to work outside normal hours a lot of the time, could get involved and really make a difference.
Popular Times of Day to Post
It was found that the most popular time of the day to post to Facebook was between 12-1pm EST, with 8.55% of all posts being published at this time. However, again there was a mismatch between the popular times to post and the times when a post would gain the most engagement.
Again, it seems that the most chance of gaining interactions is outside of normal working hours, with the most effective time being between 5pm to 1am EST.
This won’t come as a huge surprise to the majority of social media experts but for businesses is valuable information when it comes to planning social strategy. Of course, if everybody began posting in the evenings and at the weekends, it’s likely that the trend would reverse somewhat, but at the moment, posting when people are more of a captive audience does seem to be effective.
Posting with Photos & Readability
Unsurprisingly, the study found that 88% of all posts included images, which were also found to be 37% more effective than those without. Facebook has become very image orientated in recent years and it’s not often that you see a commercial post without pictures. In this regard then, most marketers are getting it right.
It was also found that the average Facebook post has a readability score which is around a fifth grade level at 67.3%. Readability scoring is used by many writers and publishers and whilst some people I have come across has likened their use to ‘dumbing down’, I believe that they provide a useful guide. People want to read quickly and smoothly online and don’t particularly want to have to stop to make sense of a word or sentence structure. With that in mind, using language that’s simple gives the audience what they want, which is a quick and easy read.
According to the report, Amazon makes use of readability scores for the books it carries on its site. In particular, they and many other writers and publishers use the Flesch Kincaid formula, which scores writing on a scale of 0-100. A score of 90-100 would be the reading ability of an eleven year old, whilst 0-30 at the other end of the scale would be a university graduate’s level.
In order to use Flesch Kincaid, it’s just a case of turning it on in your word processing program under the proofing menu. Alternatively, there are numerous free tools to be found online which can calculate readability scores for you.
Word Counts & CTAs
Surprisingly, the higher the word count, the more engagement a post received in the study. Whilst over half of all posts made had fewer than twenty words, those with more gained more interaction. In fact, posts with a word count of 70-79 words had on average 3.42 interactions, whilst those with 80-89 words averaged 6.19 interactions.
This is surprising as it’s commonly believed that keeping it short and sweet is the best thing to do on social media in general. This is likely to be because of Twitter, which only allows 140 character posts and has forced many marketers to become very economical with the construction of posts. However, it’s definitely worth bearing in mind that it’s not the same for every platform, even within the same medium.
The study postulates that the reason for this on Facebook could be the ‘continue reading’ link on longer posts when viewing on a mobile device. This creates a sense of intrigue in the reader and they are then more likely to interact as they have invested their time in the post in the first instance.
With regards to CTAs, such as Share, Please, Like, and Now, it was found that using these words gained more engagement.
Out of all of the words listed, it was found that ‘Share’ was the most effective, garnering almost twice the actions as others. The word ‘Now’ was the least effective but including this word did show a marginally improved engagement rate than those with no CTA.
However, it should be borne in mind that Facebook’s new algorithms penalises Pages that it considers to be using spam techniques and this includes the overuse of these CTAs.
According to Facebook: “This (algorithm) update will not impact Pages that are genuinely trying to encourage discussion among their fans, and focuses initially on Pages that frequently post explicitly asking for Likes, Comments and Shares.”
Since many businesses run competitions that do explicitly ask for all of these things, it’s worth bearing in mind that these should be kept to a minimum then.
The research is valuable and interesting for businesses and marketers alike and is likely to be very helpful when it comes to social media strategy planning. Key points are really to keep those CTAs to a minimum, use photos and think about posting more often out of normal working hours.