Thursday, 14 April 2016

How To Find Your Best Social Media Posting Times (For Free!)

A few months ago, I shared the secret behind when to post your content and social media updates, and following that, I've been constantly asked how the heck to I find out my optimal posting times? There are so many paid options around the internet offering you this data at eye-watering prices, and rightly so, their detailed accounts, their online support, their tips and tricks and hand-holding along the way can easily make the price justified.

If you're anything like me, you'd rather not shell out and want to get a little bit of something for nothing, and that's exactly what I'm going to make available to you today. I'm going to share with you how to find your optimal posting times both on Twitter and Instagram, with options for them both, completely for free, so you can get back to doing what you do best, creating new content.

First though, is having optimal social posting scheduling plan really worth it?

Short answer, yes. Knowing when your content is going to been seen by the most people is all well and good, but you, your blog and your social media accounts are not like everyone else's. Your following is unique to you, and if you post when everyone else does, not only is that A LOT of competition, but it's also not benefiting you or your blog. Alas, if you create a personal social media schedule, based on when your followers interact most with your updates and when they're online, you're much more likely to get results.

Twitter - Buffer

One of the best features that comes with Buffer, both the free and paid version is the opportunity to check out your optimal posting times based on the interaction and engagement your previous scheduled updates have received. Buffer takes note of all the engagement your last 5,000 updates have received, everything from comments, tweets, mentions and retweets and creates a schedule based on those figures.

How Buffer and a Two-Step Process Make Me a Scheduling Star

Getting started on Buffer is easy and straightforward, so assuming you've just gotten set up and ready to go, from your Dashboard, move over the Schedule, scroll down to the bottom and you'll be given the option of letting buffer find your Optimal Posting Times. You'll be asked what account your want Buffer to create the schedule, and how many updates you want it to find time for. I go for the full 10.

From there, you'll then be greeted with a graph showing your interaction and the optimal times Buffer thinks are perfect for your account. It's worth remembering that Buffer doesn't just create a schedule based on your previous updates engagement, but they also 'include a "experimental" element, that picks some time slots outside your top engaged times to find unexplored, new optimal timing areas for you to post', so while your schedule may look tailored for you based on your results, not every time slot is.

If you're happy with the options Buffer has provided you with, click Replace Existing Schedule and your schedule will now mimic these new results. You can use this feature as often as you like, and I recommend checking it out at least once a month so you can see common times of the day and what works, or doesn't.

Twitter - Followerwonk

Followerwonk is much more in depth in terms of the information you get, and considering the tool is free, it's certainly worth checking out. The difference between Buffer and Followerwonk is that Followerwonk can select your optimal posting times based on when the people you follow are most active on Twitter, or when the people that follow you are most active. This way, you can either personally craft a schedule around the people you see on your feed, or the people that see you on there's. I choose the latter.

One of the best things about Followerwonk is that you don't actually need to create an account, you just sign in using Twitter and you're ready to go. From the dashboard, go along to Analyze. From there, you can enter your username in the box titles Screen Name, and choose how you want Followerwonk to analyze your account.

What comes next will be a vast amount of information, all of it extremely helpful, so feel free to explore all the nooks and crannies of your statistics and figures, but what in terms of optimal posting times, scroll past the map until you find your first graph; this is Followerwonk's log of how active your followers are, when they're most active, and when they're most likely to see and engage with your updates.

From there, you can use Followerwonk and Buffer in tandem and choose the amount of updates you want and let Followerwonk create a schedule for you, choosing optimal times based on that graph. Once you've clicked Schedule at Buffer, your buffer account will essentially 'get the memo' and switch things up.

I also like to check out the second graph that follows the first as this shows you the level of interaction and engagement you've received across your own tweets. You can get a good look at what's working in your current schedule and where you could make changes, but when you use it with the first graph, you can get a really good look at your interaction and engagement on Twitter. If your schedule is good and really well optimised, these graphs will look pretty darn similar.

Twitter - Audiense (Previous My Social Bro)

In comparison to Followerwonk, Audiense doesn't provide as much insight into your optimal posting times but it certainly does have a lot of general social media information, so it's worth having a little explore, and it also only creates a schedule based on 100 followers, rather than 5,000 from Followerwonk, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't give it a go. Audiense bases its optimal posting times on the top 100 users that follow you, how they interact on Twitter and what they engage with best.

You do need to set up an account with Audiense, so once you're up and rolling, move off your Dashboard to Analytics and choose Best Time To Tweet. From there, you'll be asked to set up a report, with a name, a time zone and a logo if you want one. Then it's just a case of waiting until the report is ready, but this usually doesn't take all that long.

When the report is ready, you'll be given a few quick stats and then it's onto the optimal posting times. This graph looks A LOT different to the others we've seen, but generally, the bigger and darker the circles, the better Audience believes those times are for your schedule. You can then use Audiense with Buffer OR Hootsuite and set up a new schedule by choosing Config Buffer Schedule and going through the motions as you have done previously.

Now, the more observant will have noticed that each of these tools have given me completely different optimal posting times, and this is not because they're wrong, they're not, the difference is that they choose the schedule based on different criteria.

Buffer creates a schedule based on your previous updates and their performance and what they think will work out well for you. Followerwonk creates it's schedule based on when those that follow you are most active, engaged and interact with your updates most. Audiense's free version creates a schedule based on what your top 100 followers with the most influence do, and how they might interact with your content.

None of these tools have it perfect, but they each provide you with information you can use to create your perfect schedule, so it's worth taking the time to have look around what these different resources provide you with and decide what information is worth having, and how you can use that to your advantage.

Unlike Twitter, it's much more difficult to create a schedule for Instagram, as there isn't a scheduling tool that allows you to update, set and wait for it to post for you, the best tool I've found is, and for all it's shining positives, the only minor con is that it won't update your content for you, you still have to do the dirty work. Crafting a schedule for Instagram is a much bigger and tougher job, but it's worth it.

7 Reasons You Need To Start Using for Instagram

Instagram - Squarelovin'

In case you weren't already aware, I pretty much love Squarelovin' and use it on a daily basis to get the most out of Instagram. I've shared an epic, in-depth guide to Squarelovin' and all its nooks and crannies before, but today, we're only interested in it's optimal posting feature, which is pretty awesome for the price tag of nothing, if I do say so myself.

An Epic Guide To My Favourite Free Iconosquare Alternative: Squarelovin'

Squarelovin' makes it pretty easy. You don't need an account, you simply log in with your Instagram account, but your stats and such will take a day or two to actually get to work. Once you're stats are all up and running, come away from your dashboard and go to Analytics, and then Optimisation. From there, Squarelovin' will share with you the days you've gotten the most interaction and engagement, the times of day that are suited best to you, and later, a graph similar to that of Audiense sharing with you the best and worst times for you to post on social media.

All the information Squarelovin' uses is based on your account and your stats, so everything you're seeing is completely yours and relative to your content, however, it's worth remembering that just because one time is labeled as worst for you, you may have only posted content once in that time period, and more in others, so it's not as reliable as it could be. Your optimal posting times may also be set in German time zones even if you change your country in the settings panel, so don't automatically take these times for granted.

Instagram - Websta

Although my love for Squarelovin' knows no bounds, I find that Websta is certainly more helpful in some aspects, although I confess that it's interface and the experience of using it isn't exactly fabulous. Unlike Squarelovin', you do need to make an account for Websta, but once that's done, you're in and can get started right away.

You can view your media, followers and such just the same as Squarelovin', however, you can also create widgets for your blogs and websites should you want to make your content more accessible for your followers, but it's the optimising feature that is it's best feature. Moving away from your dashboard, look into the header and go along to your username with the drop-down option next to it. Go into Stats and from there, you can request that Websta collect your accounts stats.

You will be asked to put in your email, and from that, Websta will send you an email each day letting you know your stats have been updated to reflect the last day. It can get a little annoying getting the daily emails, however you can switch them off in the Settings panel. It will take time for Websta to collect your stats, but nowhere near as long as Squarelovin', as I got mine around 20-30 minutes after I requested them.

When you have access to your stats, look to your left sidebar and choose Optimization. You'll get graphs and content similar to Squarelovin' and be able to see your optimal posting times set to your time zone, which is generally much better. You'll also get to see which of your hashtags are performing best in your posts, and I personally love this extra feature, as it helps me craft the best collections for different posts and stop using those that don't work all that well.

As you can see, there are a lot of options out there when it comes to creating your own social media schedule, and there are a lot of free tools available to you in order to find your optimal posting times too, so there's no excuse not to. Sure, it takes a bit of time and a little more effort than just setting and posting, but the rewards, the increased engagement and following you could gain as a result is too good to pass up.

I've gained over 300 new Instagram and Twitter followers by getting together my optimal posting times, and I've not only seen an increase in comments and engagement on both social medias, but I've become more sociable and the interaction between myself and my followers has been awesome too. It's not just the numbers that will improve with time, but your relationships with other people too.

Do you have an schedule for social media updates?


  1. I love these kind of posts with so many different tools that you can analyse your maximum impact! I mean if you're going to be posting anyway, why not post during the peak periods? I've tried squarelovin' for Instagram and it looks like the optimal posting time for me is before work, because of time zones and everything. That definitely makes a difference. I don't really do any other scheduling outside of my blog though (which is always at the same time, except for weekends). Thanks for sharing Amanda!

  2. Thank you so much for this, Amanda! I was actually wondering last night about when would be the best time to post so I'm definitely going to go check out Squarelovin' now! Thank you! <3

  3. I just started using Buffer for Twitter and LOVE it. I have noticed a big difference in the number of likes I get on things when I buffer a tweet and let the program decided the optimal publishing time vs. me just hitting tweet.

    I don't have an Instagram yet, but I'm hoping to get one and Squareloven is something I'll definitely look into.

    Now if only there was a good free social media management tool for Pinterest. :(

    Thanks for the helpful post!

  4. Thank you so much for this post it's very helpful!!! I will be checking out followerwonk!

    1. New posting schedule woot! Also how often do your recommend posting to twitter

  5. This is exactly what I was looking for! I still needed something that would tell me when to tweet and I checked out Followerwonk. They give A LOT of stats but I think they're all useful in some kind of way. Well, thanks for helping me out again. You might be my new favorite person.

  6. I never knew tools like these existed! I have seen a few posts on when the optimal time to post should be. Overall I just have a lose schedule on when I post and on twitter I try to tweet at a few different times as to spread out my tweets and hopefully reach different audiences as well. On facebook I only post once each day when my post goes live, but as hardly anyone sees my post anyway I wonder if it's worth posting there more often. I really should look into this more. Thanks for sharing!

  7. Yesss I love this part --> " It's not just the numbers that will improve with time, but your relationships with other people too." I COULDn'T AGREE MORE. But I also want to learn how to use some of these!! *goes to investigate further*

  8. This is a great list, thank you! I don't get on Twitter often, and when I do, I have several different tweets I want to post and I find a lot more I want to retweet as I'm scrolling through my feed, but I don't want to post them all at the same time. Might have to check out Buffer!

  9. I am regular reader of your blog and no doubt it all stuff is awesome. The best thing about your sharing and posting is that you always provide content that is helpful for both the newbie and experts. Looking for more stuff and tutorials.

    Love from Tech Solutions Desk

  10. In my point of view, each twitter following can be different and each campaign should treat accordingly. Rather than a generic best time, it’s important to each individual audience group or industry to get a better profile of when is best to speak to certain types of people.