When it comes to Twitter, there are certain myths that refuse to die. One of the most enduring myths is that, for best results, you need to dedicate hours of your time every single day to getting your message out there.
Mastering any social media platform is certainly a time-consuming process. However, an indiscriminate, round the clock approach to tweeting will get you nowhere, and will only leave you feeling burned out and disillusioned.
It’s much more important to take a strategic approach, and to ensure that you tweet only at times when you can be absolutely sure that your message will be seen by the people you want to see it.
Buffer analysed over 4.8 million tweets across 10,000 profiles, looking for the ways in which clicks and engagement vary throughout the day and across different time zones.
Their findings are fascinating. If you’ve struggled with Twitter in the past, this study may give you all the data you need to rejuvenate your strategy.
The Best Time to Tweet – Key Findings
- To Maximise Clicks – early morning tweets work best
- To Maximise Engagement – evening and late night tweets work best
Buffer’s study also found a discrepancy between the most effective time to tweet, and the most popular time to tweet. In some cases, it seems that the most popular times to post are not necessarily the best times to post.
Across all time zones, the highest volume of tweets occurs between 12:00 – 13:00 local time. Conversely, the lowest volume of tweets occurs between 3:00 – 4:00:
When it comes to local data, we UK users encounter a small problem. This study did not include GMT, as it’s the default time zone for all Buffer users. Not all users set their own local time zones, so Buffer believed that to include GMT would have skewed their results.
Irritating, but understandable. All this means is that the best data we in the UK have to go on is based on the central European time zone:
Why are these the most popular times to tweet? Buffer believes that it’s because these are the hours when most people have access to Twitter. Either they’re wasting time on Twitter during their last hour at work (16:00 – 17:00), or else they’re sat at home, idly browsing their feed on their smartphones while zoning out in front of the TV (20:00 – 21:00).
However, Buffer found that tweeting during these peaks is not necessarily the best strategy. With so many tweets going live, there’s a chance that your message may get lost in the deluge.
So how can you make sure that your message is received? The data suggests that you should target the downtimes.
The Best Time to Tweet to Maximise Clicks
This graph shows the worldwide average of clicks received per tweet, calculated for the local time in each time zone:
If it’s clicks you want, the data clearly shows that your tweets would be best posted in the small hours. Tweets sent between 2:00 – 3:00 tend to perform the best.
Why? Again, Buffer has some theories. It might be that, when the volume of tweets is lower overall, a few off-peak high performing tweets are bringing up the average. Or it might be that an off-peak tweet in America will go live during a peak hour in Europe, and vice versa. In any case, it’s certainly worth experimenting with tweeting during off-peak hours, and the data shows that you may expect some results.
The Best Time to Tweet to Maximise Engagement
In this study, “engagement” was defined as “clicks plus retweets, favourites, and replies”.
These graph shows the worldwide average of clicks received for each of these metrics, calculated for the local time in each time zone:
Again, we see that for all types of engagement – replies, retweets, and favourites – tweets sent between 2:00 – 3:00 perform the best. During traditional work hours, 9:00 – 17:00, engagement takes a significant dip.
Buffer refers to this phenomenon as “the late night informercial effect”. Tweet at less sociable hours when fewer people are tweeting overall. In this way, your tweets are more likely to stand out, and those that read them will have fewer distractions vying for their attention.
The Best Time To Tweet – Your Next Steps
If you haven’t already got a means of scheduling your tweets, your first step should be to get one. Hootsuite’s very good; but given that I’ve just written extensively about their research, it would be remiss of me not to recommend Buffer.
Yet before you rethink your social media strategy, there are two things you should bear in mind:
1. It’s not a given that all tweets posted at the “right” time are guaranteed to perform well. Effective scheduling is just part of your social media strategy. More important than when you tweet is how you tweet. For more information, read Carla’s guide on writing better tweets.
2. You might get more clicks and more engagement through tweeting at two in the morning, but that’s not to say that you’ll be reaching the people you want to reach.
So by all means experiment with scheduling tweets based on Buffer’s data. You never know, you may see some seriously impressive results. But do remember that the stats for your specific audience might look completely different. Use Followerwonk to find out when your followers are at their most active.
So like many things when it comes to social, this study is by no means conclusive. It offers anyone who’s new to social media, or anyone who’s struggling with Twitter, with an excellent place to start. But beyond that, your priority should be to keep testing and keep experimenting until you find an approach that works for you.
If you’d really like to make the most of social media, you’ll need a trained team of digital professionals on your side. Click here to read about our social media marketing services.