Let’s cut to the chase. Twitter has lost a lot of its glamour. As of Q4 2017, it claims only 330 million monthly active users which looks diminutive compared to Facebook’s 2.2 billion. But the importance of the micro-blogging site cannot be dismissed given the frequency at which users tweet.
At the time of writing this blog post, over 8,007 tweets were published every second. To put this in perspective, only 840 photos were published on Instagram in a second. This is indicative of the very nature of the platform which was intended to relay what’s happening at a given moment. In that case, can we really pinpoint the best time to post on Twitter?
However, given how frequently people take to Twitter to post their updates, one has to wonder if the dwindling engagement rates are completely a result of the platform updates and its lack of ability to scale. It’s time to revisit your Twitter strategy basics to see if you are doing the best you can. As a first step in that direction, we’ve taken a look at timing.
In this article, we share the results of our analysis of 100 brands from different industries, selected according to audience size, during the time period between November 15th and December 22nd, 2017. We also take a look at the best time to post for media, sports and personalities separately. These profiles usually witness engagement on a much larger scale and exhibit distinct patterns in timing.
Best Time to Tweet for Brands
Let’s take a look at the day of the week and hour of the day that gives maximum returns for brands.
Day of the Week
If you take a look at the chart below, you’ll see the engagement and posting frequency on each day of the week.
Number of tweets and interactions each day of the week
Wednesdays witnessed the highest engagement, followed by Tuesday. However, tweet volumes were higher on Thursday. Weekends and Mondays were dull in terms of engagement.
Hour of the Day
Brand activity on Twitter is at its peak around noon. Tweeting frequency is low early on in the day and picks up only after 8 AM. The highest number of tweets are published between 12-1 PM. After this, there’s a clear falling trend.
Number of tweets and interactions hourly
Interactions show a similar trend, picking up the pace only after 8 AM. The most number of interactions are recorded between 11 AM and 12 PM after which it nosedives the next hour, irrespective of the large volume of tweets published.
The Engagement Window
You can see from the heatmap below that there’s an undisputed winner. Wednesdays between 11 AM and 12 PM witnessed extremely high engagement.
Heatmap of interactions received by brand tweets
We did a bit more digging to zoom into the top tweets published in this slot to see if this was the case of a single tweet going viral. We were not disappointed.
Over 413,000 interactions came from this epic tweet by Wendys:
We’ve probably said this before, and there’s no fault in saying so again. Wendy’s’ social media team is goals for all of us.
What’s even more interesting is that Wendy’s seems to have a record of staging these epic takedowns during this slot. Before we started analyzing the data, we removed outliers that got far too much engagement that could skew the results. Here’s the most engaging tweet published during the period studied on a Wednesday between 11 AM and 12 PM:
Do you think Wendy’s just got lucky both times? Or is there an untapped engagement goldmine that opens up on Wednesdays between 11 AM and 12 PM? Instead of searching for a psychic, you can just ask Xia, our AI who’ll tell you when’s the best time for your tweets.
Let’s now take a quick look at the timing and engagement patterns for Sports, Media and Personalities:
Best Time to Tweet for Sports Teams
In the previous studies on Facebook and Instagram, we noted that unlike other brands, sports teams see very high engagement on Sundays and later into the night. Here we take a look to see if this holds true on Twitter as well.
Day of the Week
Sports teams were the most prolific on Twitter on Sundays. Consequently, they won the most engagement on that day.
Number of tweets published by sports teams and the interactions they received each day of the week
This was one of most engaging tweets published on a Sunday:
After 8 AM, the tweeting frequency as well as the interactions received shows a rising trend. This stabilizes after 2 PM, lulls after 5, only to rise again after 7. The highest volume of tweets was recorded between 8-9 PM.
Number of tweets published and the interactions they received hourly
Tweets published between 9-10 PM brought in the most engagement. Take a look at the most engaging post published at this hour:
Who can resist hitting ‘like’ on LeBron James scoring flawlessly and with such ease!
The Engagement Bulls-Eye
The window that witnessed the highest engagement was on Sundays between 4-5 PM. This is expected given that a lot of matches take place at this hour. Viewership for these matches are also high, as it is right in the ‘laze around and watch a match, the weekend’s almost over’ spot.
Heatmap of interactions received by sports teams
The standout tweet in this hour was the following tweet by the Blazers:
What’s interesting here is that the tweet scraped less than 1,600 interactions. This was the biggest contributor to a tally of over 1.4 million interactions registered in the slot. What this means is that this slot saw a lot of tweets being published by sports teams. Rather than a handful of tweets being responsible for the high engagement on Sundays between 4-5 PM, it was the combined effort of 1,173 tweets earning around 1,200 interactions each.
Best Time to Tweet for Personalities
Personalities include celebrities, influencers, media personalities, sportspersons, politicians, actors etc. In a lot of the cases tweets published by them tend to go viral and amass a tremendous volume of interactions. It would be interesting to see if a particular day or hour is more prone to witnessing such viral content.
Day of the Week
Mondays get the highest engagement even though personalities were more likely to tweet on Thursdays. Saturdays saw the lowest tweet volumes and hence, the lowest number of interactions.
Tweet volumes and interactions per day of the week
Obama had a little something to do with the high volume of interactions on Mondays:
ME: Joe, about halfway through the speech, I’m gonna wish you a happy birth– BIDEN: IT’S MY BIRTHDAY! ME: Joe.
Fully embracing the bromance that took over the internet towards the end of their tenure, Obama won points by greeting Biden on his birthday. This accounted for 30% of all interactions received by tweets published on Mondays.
Hour of the Day
After 6 AM, interactions and posting volumes gradually rise till about 10 AM after which it rises slowly and surges sharply after 2. The hour between 2-3 PM registered the highest volume of interactions. After this, interactions dip, only to surge again between 4-5 PM.
Number of tweets published and interactions received hourly
Here too, the Ex-President’s tweet came into play, and was responsible for the spike between 2-3 PM.
No prizes for guessing which slot witnessed the most interactions. Obama’s tweet single handedly brought in 86% of the interactions received on Mondays between 2-3 PM.
Heatmap of when personalities received interactions
Best Time to Post for Media
Media brands too are prone to virality. News items, finales, release of a new season are all causes for tweets to go viral. Let’s take a look at when media brands saw stellar engagement:
Day of the Week
Media brands had the most success on Thursdays. This boom in engagement could be the result of a large number of tweets that were published on this day. Interestingly, engagement and tweet volumes were fairly low around the weekends.
Number of tweets published by media brands daily and the interactions they received
When we took a look at the most engaging tweets published on Thursdays, we found that this tweet by Netflix got the most interactions:
We’re disappointed in the decision to gut #NetNeutrality protections that ushered in an unprecedented era of innovation, creativity & civic engagement. This is the beginning of a longer legal battle. Netflix stands w/ innovators, large & small, to oppose this misguided FCC order.
They won over the Twitter audience by making their stance on Net Neutrality very clear and signaling that the fight is far from over. However, this tweet only contributed around 7% of all interactions registered on Thurdays. So, the high interactions count is definitely a function of the large number of posts published on this day.
Hour of the Day
After 6 AM there’s a steady rise in tweet volumes, accompanied by a rise in engagement. This results in a peak between 1-2 PM. After this, there’s a slight decline in tweet volumes and a sharp fall in interactions. There’s a sharp surge in engagement between 5-6 PM, and again between 9-10 PM. All of these could be the result of major news breaking.
Number of tweets published by media brands hourly and the interactions they received
Tweets published between 1-2 PM earned over 6 million interactions. Of these, more than a million came from the Netflix tweet we discussed earlier.
With media brands as well, the best time to tweet was influenced heavily by one standout tweet (Netflix’s). You can see in the heatmap below that Thursdays between 1-2 PM witnessed the highest engagement.
What we’ve shown in this article is a start. Using owned analytics, that is available to you from Twitter or on Unmetric’s Focus feature, you should see if the best times mentioned here apply to your brand. We’d like to emphasize that the most important rule in deciding when to post on Twitter is to be attentive to data.
Combine the insights you gain from your past performance with a close analysis of your industry or peer group. This way you can identify if you are missing out on any engagement opportunities. The reason why we discuss individual tweets that got a lot of interactions at a particular slot is because we’d like you to not stop at just the numbers. Look for the story that it tells. You should take into account outlier tweets, sponsored ads etc while zeroing in on the best time to tweet.
Once you’ve got an answer, it’s important that you constantly measure, monitor and modify the best time to tweet at regular intervals based on data. You can do all this and more with Unmetric Analyze.
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