Throughout 2020 and into 2021, social media became more important than ever as a way for people to maintain instantaneous connection, find new trends and hobbies and stay up to date on current events.

Brands had to pivot to thrive in an unexpectedly rapid digital transformation, and social marketers had to combat burnout as the volume of social interactions and the demands on messaging increased. For more on the strategies brands implemented to react to these changes, see our review of learnings and resources for COVID-19.

With this in mind, it’s no surprise that our review of the best times to post on social media showed many notable changes in the data for 2021, with increased and varying engagement across platforms and industries. Both brands and their customers were constantly adapting in the way they operated online, leading to new patterns of interaction and engagement on social media. As many of us continue to refine and reimagine strategy for 2021, this data can help marketers understand what the landscape looks like on social now.

We worked closely with our data science team to review findings and trends in social media usage over the past year from Sprout Social’s 20,000+ customers and understand when their content was most and least frequently engaged with, broken out by platform and industry.

We’ve highlighted the best times to post on each social platform, as well as the overall best and worst days to post. Use this data to help inform scheduling for your publishing calendar, or read on for ideas about how to integrate these findings into your own analysis of your specific account’s peak times for engagement.

Finally, If you’re looking for a quick reference of the best times to post globally across each network, click below to download your own copy.

Quick Reference: Best Times to Post 2020

Read on for our findings by network and industry:

Disclaimer: Data from Sprout Social include users from various plan types, industries and locations. All time frames are recorded in Central Time Zone (CST). Number of engagements represents total engagements a brand received on the specific channel during that hour time frame. Industry-specific data includes mid- to high-level engagement times.

What are the best times to post on Facebook?

  • Best times: Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday 9 a.m.–1 p.m.
  • Best days: Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday
  • Worst day: Saturday

With Facebook’s status as the most used social media platform in the world, it’s no surprise that there was virtually around-the-clock engagement in 2020.

Compared to past years, there were few completely ‘off’ times for Facebook when reviewing the past year of data. Weekends, late night and earlier morning all showed more consistent engagement and have become much more opportune times for brands to get eyes on their content.

Keep in mind that the top times shown above are recorded in US Central Time, so the high engagement shown in early morning as well as the more traditional US workday also reflects Facebook’s significant global audience. This makes it an opportune platform for any brand running an international or multi-location strategy.

While this might sound like an almost overwhelming amount of organic content to plan, keeping these peak times for when to post on Facebook in mind can help you plan your content calendar effectively.

What are the best times to post on Instagram?

  • Best times: Tuesday 11 a.m.–2 p.m., Monday through Friday 11 a.m.
  • Best day: Tuesday
  • Worst day: Sunday

Throughout 2020, Instagram continued to step up new features such as Reels, enhance Stories, and push discovery on its Explore page. This made it a perfect platform for social media audiences dealing with lockdown measures to find and share new hobbies—something brands can use social listening to stay up to date on as these trends emerge.

Similar to Instagram’s parent company Facebook, the top times to post on Instagram expanded in 2020 compared to previous years. Midday engagement during weekdays became even denser with top times throughout the 11 a.m.–2 p.m. range, and evenings and weekend times showed increased opportunities for engagement.

Instagram is a great place for brands to branch out with their content: reinforce your visual identity with high quality photos, or highlight your brand’s graphic design efforts by showing off what you’ve created for content such as infographics and data reports. Instagram Live, like its Facebook counterpart, exploded in popularity in 2020 as a way for people to stay connected in an immediate and less curated way. Reels also allow for shorter and more viral-ready content that can complement your feed content. Instagram also experimented with longer-form content by adding Instagram Guides as a way to provide more in-depth information on wellness, eventually expanding to other topic areas.

If you’re looking to amplify your Instagram strategy, use these best times to post, and check out our guide on getting the most out of your IG presence:

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    What are the best times to post on Twitter?

    • Best times: Wednesday 9 a.m.– 3 p.m., Tuesday through Thursday 9–11 a.m.
    • Best day: Wednesday
    • Worst day: Saturday

    In 2020, Twitter was many social media users’ first source of information on developing stories such as COVID-19 and the US Presidential Elections. As such, the platform focused heavily on news and information accuracy, with specific trending topics discovery tabs dedicated to these ongoing stories.

    Twitter peak times for engagement remained high throughout all weekdays in 2020, with increased periods of high engagement going into the evenings. This could reflect the ongoing attention to developing news and updates, as well as the platform’s role as a place for entertainment via viral Tweets and memes.

    While Twitter distinguished itself as a resource for up-to-the-minute news in 2020, it’s also still a key place for customers to easily get a direct line to brands through conversations and mentions. This means that having a customer care strategy in place is particularly important for the platform, as is moving beyond reacting to individual issues and towards proactively improving the overall customer experience through social listening and analyzing voice of customer data.

    All of these focus areas means brands can have multiple, and sometimes competing, priorities on Twitter. Review the top times we found above to help determine when you should focus on prioritizing publishing new content versus devoting resources to customer support.

    What are the best times to post on LinkedIn?

    • Best times: Tuesday through Thursday 9 a.m.–noon
    • Best days: Tuesday and Wednesday
    • Worst day: Sunday

    LinkedIn engagement has become extremely consistent throughout the US work week, unsurprising for this professional-focused social platform. You’re less likely to get eyes on your LinkedIn content on the weekend, where engagement drops more significantly compared to weekdays than on other social networks we reviewed.

    Considering how much LinkedIn content is centered around professional thought leadership and career growth, it makes sense that a majority of audiences are getting the most out of this content during their working day.

    While LinkedIn continues to be more specialized in focus than other social platforms, it’s also increasingly branching out in what types of audiences it attracts. In addition to being an important target for employee advocacy campaigns and recruiting, LinkedIn is becoming equally important for a wide range of content creation.

    While the platform is an obvious match for B2B strategy, any brand can utilize LinkedIn marketing best practices and highlight wins as a company and culture. It’s an ideal fit for employee advocacy and empowering employees to advance their personal brand or professional development as they publish content to their own profiles.

    How to find your own best times to post on social media

    Social marketers can plan content more effectively when they’re armed with data on the top times to post across social networks. Still, as brands continue to feel the impact of an unprecedented and transformational year for digital media, there are new ways to innovate emerging all the time. New content formats and trends might help you reach your audience in unexpected ways, or even find new segments and personas you weren’t focusing on before.

    More tips for content scheduling

    While posting at peak engagement times is a go-to strategy, a detailed analysis of your audience might reveal less busy times where your specific audience is active, but competitors are not. A tool like Sprout Social can help you dig into your own analytics and develop tailored findings for your accounts to complement the wide range of data across industries we’ve surveyed here.

    With Sprout’s tools like post tagging and cross-channel reporting, you can separate out different factors like network or types of media and drill down into how your posting time influenced your social success.

    Sprout’s very own ViralPost algorithm uses the same types of data we’ve looked at across all our customer accounts to determine the best time to post for your individual account. ViralPost algorithmically determines the results for our Optimal Send Times feature, a publishing option on our Professional and Advanced plans.

    With Optimal Send Times, the specific times that your own audience engages the most are identified based on your publishing history. ViralPost also continually updates and refines to save you time from doing repeated analyses yourself.

    Want to see it in action? Sign up for a free 30-day trial of Sprout Social!

    Start your free Sprout trial

    If you’re looking for more of our findings from this year’s study of our customer data, read on for what we learned about the best times to post across nine industries.

    Best times to post by industry

    In addition to reviewing the top times to post across all accounts on major social platforms, we also reviewed how different industries’ engagement changes across networks and over time throughout the week. You can use this data similarly to our global engagement findings to get more specific insights on how audiences are engaging with different types of brands.

    For these findings, we focused on data from Facebook, Instagram and Twitter where enough data was available to provide a useful and accurate picture of engagement by industry.

    Best times to post on social media for healthcare

    Healthcare services and institutions faced an overwhelming challenge in 2020 to respond to global audiences that were constantly trying to make sense of new information and adjust to lifestyle changes from quarantine measures.

    While some networks such as Instagram appeared to receive infrequent engagement in this industry in our 2019 data, we saw much more consistent engagement for 2020 as at-home audiences relied on online sources to stay up to date and find answers to their questions about the COVID-19 pandemic. Educating and informing audiences effectively is likely to continue to be a key priority for a successful healthcare social media strategy on any platform.

    Best times to post on Facebook for healthcare

    • Best times: Monday through Friday at 11 a.m.
    • Best day: Tuesday
    • Worst day: Sunday

    Best times to post on Instagram for healthcare

    • Best times: Sunday 8–9 a.m., Tuesday 8 a.m.–noon and 5–8 p.m.
    • Best day: Monday, Tuesday
    • Worst day: Saturday

    Best times to post on Twitter for healthcare

    • Best times: Monday 9 a.m.–noon, Tuesday 8 a.m.-1 p.m.
    • Best day: Tuesday
    • Worst day: Sunday

    Best times to post on social media for media

    Twitter and Instagram were extremely consistent when it comes to engagement in the media industry. With relatively high engagement times going around the clock (relative to US central time), the global audience for media such as news and entertainment was clear.

    While Facebook also has a large global audience, engagement on media industry accounts was specifically high in the US morning, perhaps reflecting a tendency for audiences to habitually check in for a longer, single period of time during the day versus quick visits throughout the day.

    On any platform, balancing timely reporting and accurate information is more important than ever, given the continued scrutiny social platforms are under as both a powerful source of immediate updates and a potential risk for misinformation. Media brands and journalists on social should be highly conscious of the best practices for each platform and cultivate overall digital literacy to best serve their audiences.

    Best times to post on Facebook for media

    • Best times: Friday 7 a.m., Tuesday 6–9 a.m.
    • Best days: Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday
    • Worst day: Saturday

    Best times to post on Instagram for media

    • Best times: Tuesday 1–5 p.m. , Wednesday 11 a.m. , Thursday 8–9 a.m.
    • Best day: Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday
    • Worst day: Sunday

    Best times to post on Twitter for media

    • Best times: Monday 6 a.m. & 9 a.m., Tuesday 7 a.m.
    • Best day: Monday, Tuesday
    • Worst day: Saturday

    Best times to post on social media for education

    For education, Twitter and Facebook were highly consistent with opportunities for engagement throughout the day and into evening hours. Instagram appeared to be more sporadic, but universities and educational institutions shouldn’t overlook the chance to use the platform to highlight their visual identity and show off student life through video content.

    A social marketing strategy for education needs to fulfill multiple functions, from attracting prospective students to keeping current students and alumni up to date. Many schools will need to manage multiple social accounts per platform to meet these needs and effectively target these distinct audiences at the right times.

    Best times to post on Facebook for education

    • Best times: Wednesday and Thursday at 10 a.m.
    • Best day: Tuesday, Wednesday
    • Worst day: Sunday

    Best times to post on Instagram for education

    • Best times: Friday 4–5 a.m., Thursday 2 p.m.
    • Best day: Friday
    • Worst day: Sunday

    Best times to post on Twitter for education

    • Best times: Monday 6– 9 p.m., Thursday 10 a.m.
    • Best day: Monday
    • Worst day: Sunday

    Best times to post on social media for nonprofit

    All three platforms we reviewed for nonprofit social media accounts showed strong engagement during the typical US workday hours. It was almost a challenge to find distinct peak times within the relatively solid block of engagement occurring from around 8 a.m to 7 p.m.

    With so much consistent audience engagement in this space, there’s an excellent opportunity to narrow down your accounts’ individual data even further and find the best time for your specific organization to reach your target audience and meet your specific goals.

    Plus, with very similar engagement across all platforms, it’s a good idea to vary content across all platforms by playing to the unique strengths of each one. Determine what to post on each social network to effectively get your message out and give your audience a reason to keep up with you across your entire social presence.

    Best times to post on Facebook for nonprofit

    • Best times: Wednesday 10 a.m.–5 p.m.
    • Best day: Wednesday
    • Worst day: Saturday (minor difference)

    Best times to post on Instagram for nonprofit

    • Best times: Wednesday 10 a.m.–6 p.m.
    • Best day: Wednesday
    • Worst day: Sunday

    Best times to post on Twitter for nonprofit

    • Best times: Wednesday 10–11 a.m, 2–4 p.m.
    • Best day: Wednesday
    • Worst day: Sunday

    Best times to post on social media for restaurants

    In 2020, restaurants had to pivot from the social media-ready dine in experience to supporting increased take out and delivery volume, plus communicating with their clientele about changes to service and menus.

    Despite these changes, Instagram was still highly active for the restaurant space with solid periods of engagement stretching from morning to evening. Even if customers aren’t taking their typical photos of the restaurant experience, there are plenty of ways to creatively leverage Instagram posts from showing off menu and delivery offerings to behind the scenes content from your kitchens.

    Facebook and Twitter engagement were distributed more erratically across weekdays, but these platforms still offer ways to connect with different target audiences. Look for ways to offer unique promotions and updates suited to each platform to keep your restaurant top of mind for potential customers.

    Best times to post on Facebook for restaurants

    • Best times: Monday noon, Friday 1–2 p.m.
    • Best day: Friday
    • Worst day: Sunday

    Best times to post on Instagram for restaurants

    • Best times: Monday 9 a.m.–1 p.m.
    • Best day: Monday
    • Worst day: Saturday

    Best times to post on Twitter for restaurants

    • Best times: Wednesday noon–2 p.m., Thursday 8 a.m.–2 p.m.
    • Best day: Thursday
    • Worst day: Saturday

    Best times to post on social media for tech

    It might be surprising to see that Instagram had the largest number of peak times to post for the tech industry. However, it’s a perfect fit for tech companies such as B2B brands to highlight both creative visual content such as infographics and reports, as well as offer an insider look at company culture and employee advocacy.

    Similar to B2C consumers, B2B, IT and tech buyers increasingly turn to social media to inform research around purchasing decisions. Social platforms are also incredibly effective for staying in touch with current customers, allowing brands to create community around their product and offer meaningful customer care. Cultivating an effective presence across social networks can have a direct impact on tech brands’ bottom line and customer experience.

    Best times to post on Facebook for tech

    • Best times: Thursday 3–4 p.m.
    • Best day: Tuesday, Thursday
    • Worst day: Sunday

    Best times to post on Instagram for tech

    • Best times: Monday 10–11 a.m., 2–5 p.m., 8 p.m., Tuesday 10 a.m.–1 p.m., Thursday noon, Friday 11 a.m.
    • Best day: Monday
    • Worst day: Sunday

    Best times to post on Twitter for tech

    • Best times: Monday 11 a.m., Tuesday & Wednesday 9 a.m., Tuesday 2 p.m.
    • Best day: Tuesday
    • Worst day: Sunday

    Best times to post on social media for travel & tourism

    The travel and tourism industries were pushed to innovate with digital experiences throughout 2020 as travel restrictions and lockdown limited the traditional ways audiences engage with these industries on social and otherwise.

    Our data shows that social media audiences did respond to these efforts, with solid engagement throughout the week, especially on Facebook and Instagram. Even in the absence of traditional travel photo posting, tourism brands’ efforts to share experiences from afar and inspire appeared to hit the mark successfully and open up new opportunities for social marketers in these industries to remain creative and flexible with their strategy.

    Best times to post on Facebook for travel & tourism

    • Best times: Tuesday and Wednesday 9 a.m.–1 p.m., Friday 10 a.m.–noon
    • Best day: Wednesday
    • Worst day: Sunday

    Best times to post on Instagram for travel & tourism

    • Best times: Thursday 7 a.m., Monday 11 a.m.–3 p.m.
    • Best day: Thursday
    • Worst days: Saturday, Sunday

    Best times to post on Twitter for travel & tourism

    • Best times: Monday 10 a.m.–2 p.m., Wednesday 8–9 a.m.
    • Best day: Monday, Tuesday
    • Worst day: Saturday

    Best times to post on social media for finance

    For social engagement with financial institutions, we focused our data on Twitter and Facebook due to the availability of data and the ability to provide an accurate and useful picture of peak engagement times.

    This doesn’t mean that Instagram should be off the table for every bank or financial institution’s social media strategy. Individual finance brands need to carefully evaluate the best way to stay in touch with their customers while maintaining compliance with important regulations on social media for the industry.

    Interestingly, top times on Twitter were highly varied, perhaps reflecting a global audience’s ready engagement with short updates on news and markets worldwide. Meanwhile, Facebook followed a more typical pattern of activity around the US working week.

    Best times to post on Facebook for finance

    • Best times: Wednesday 9 a.m.–1 p.m., Monday 5 p.m., Friday 11 a.m.
    • Best day: Wednesday
    • Worst day: Sunday

    Best times to post on Twitter for finance

    • Best times: Monday and Tuesday 1–3 a.m., Friday noon–3 p.m.
    • Best day: Monday, Tuesday
    • Worst day: Saturday

    Best times to post on social media for hospitality

    Similar to the tourism industry, hotels and hospitality brands faced unexpected challenges to completely overhaul their approach to social media content and marketing in 2020. Hospitality brands, many of which are managing multiple accounts for multiple locations, had to align on messaging and stay in touch with customers who needed clear updates as travel restrictions and limitations changed throughout the year.

    This customer services focus is reflected in periods of peak engagement for the industry, which were focused around US working days and hours, as well as some additional higher engagement times into the evening.

    As hospitality customers begin to look ahead to planning travel in 2021 and beyond, setting up an effective reputation and review management strategy will be a key part of these brands’ overall social strategy.

    Best times to post on Facebook for hospitality

    • Best times: Monday 11 a.m., Friday 8–11 a.m., Monday, Tuesday and Thursday 4 p.m.
    • Best day: Friday
    • Worst day: Sunday

    Best times to post on Instagram for hospitality

    • Best times: Wednesday noon, Thursday 3–4 p.m., Friday 8 a.m.–noon
    • Best day: Friday
    • Worst day: Sunday

    Best times to post on Twitter for hospitality

    • Best times: Wednesday 3–5 p.m., Thursday 10–11 a.m.
    • Best day: Thursday
    • Worst day: Sunday

    How we gathered the data

    We understand that these reports can raise questions about just where the data is coming from. That’s why we want to be clear about the data we pulled and how we got here.

    First off, we were luckily enough to work with Sprout Social’s very own data science team to gather together this information from our customers. Joel Booth, a Senior Data Scientist at Sprout, explained how it all works.

    “Sprout integrates with the different social media platforms via their API, which allows the application to receive messages on behalf of our customers,” Booth said. “Essentially, this is how we power features such as Sprout’s Smart Inbox and Reports.”

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