It happens all the time. You tweet and your tweet does really well: you get plenty of likes and @ mentions and retweets and clicks. Great! So you jump on the engagement bandwagon and fire off another tweet. And very little happens.
And you have no idea why.
That's a problem the folks at Buffer (a tool that lets you schedule, automate, and analyze social media updates) just put a ton of time into solving. Buffer studied 4.8 million tweets over a four-year period to produce what they believe is the best data analysis ever conducted around optimal timing for Twitter posts.
Imagine removing all guesswork when you schedule your tweets, knowing the times that work for maximum clicks and maximum engagement.
With a big hand from our data team, we analyzed over 4.8 million tweets across 10,000 profiles, pulling the stats on how clicks and engagement and timing occur throughout the day and in different time zones.
Our key findings:
- Early mornings are the best time to tweet to get clicks.
- Evenings and late at night are the best time, on average, for total engagement with your tweets.
- In some cases, the most popular times to post are opposite of the best times to post.
Now let's dig a little deeper.
The most popular time to tweet: Noon to 1:00 p.m.
We've taken the data from all tweets sent through Buffer to find the most popular times for posting to Twitter. Looking at all tweets sent across all major time zones, here's an overview of the most popular times to tweet.
- Noon to 1:00 p.m. local time, on average for each time zone, is the most popular time to tweet.
- The highest volume of tweets occurs between 11:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m., peaking between noon and 1:00 p.m.
- The fewest tweets are sent between 3:00 and 4:00 a.m.
Here's the chart for the most popular times worldwide, taken from an average of 10 major time zones (the times represent local time).
Here is the graph for the most popular times to tweet in each of the four major U.S. time zones.
(We normalized the data to account for daylight's savings in the U.S. as well.)
Here are the charts for the major time zones in Europe and Africa.
(Note: The London (GMT) time zone used to be the default time zone for new Buffer users, so our data for GMT is not as clean as we would like it to be. We've omitted any takeaways for GMT from the research results here.)
Here are the charts for the major time zones in Asia and Australia.
It's interesting to see how the most popular time to tweet varies across the time zones. We've shared Buffer's 10 most popular time zones in the charts above. Here's a list of each most popular hour for the 10 major time zones.
- Los Angeles, San Francisco, etc. (Pacific Time): 9:00 a.m.
- Denver (Mountain Time): noon
- Chicago (Central Time): noon
- New York, Boston, Atlanta, Miami, etc. (Eastern Time): noon
- Madrid, Rome, Paris, etc. (Central European): 4:00 p.m.
- Cape Town, Cairo, Helsinki, etc. (Eastern European): 8:00 p.m.
- Sydney (Australian Eastern): 10:00 p.m.
- Hong Kong (Hong Kong Time): 8:00 a.m.
- Tokyo (Japan Time): 2:00 a.m.
- Shanghai, Taipei, etc. (China Time): noon
The most popular time to post could be due to a number of factors: when most people have access to Twitter (perhaps at a work computer), or when online audiences are most likely to be connected (see Burrito Principle), etc.
Should you post during the most popular times? That's one possibility. But you may find success posting at non-peak times, when the volume of tweets is lower.
If you have a large international audience on Twitter, you may wish to locate the particular part of the world where they're from and adjust your schedule accordingly. You can find the times when your audience may be online with tools like Followerwonk and Crowdfire.
The best times to tweet to get more clicks.
We were excited to dig into the specific metrics for each of these tweets, too, in hopes of coming up with some recommendations and best practices to test out for your Twitter strategy.
First up, the best time to tweet for clicks.
Looking at the data, we found the following trends for maximizing your chance to get more clicks:
- Tweets sent between 2:00 and 3:00 a.m. earn the most clicks on average
- The highest number of clicks per tweet occurs between 2:00 a.m. and 4:00 a.m., peaking between 2:00 and 3:00 a.m.
- The fewest clicks per tweet happen in the morning (when tweet volume is particularly high), between 9:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m.
The data in the below chart is the worldwide average, calculated for the local time in each time zone. So the peak at the 2:00 a.m. hour would hold true as the overall top time no matter which time zone you're in--2:00 a.m. in Los Angeles, New York, Cape Town, Hong Kong, etc.
For the specifics on each of the best time to tweet for clicks in each of the major time zones in Buffer, here's a breakdown.
- Los Angeles, San Francisco, etc. (Pacific Time): 2:00 a.m.
- Denver (Mountain Time): 7:00 p.m.
- Chicago (Central Time): 2:00 a.m.
- New York, Boston, Atlanta, Miami, etc. (Eastern Time): 11:00 p.m.
- Madrid, Rome, Paris, Berlin, etc. (Central European): 7:00 p.m.
- Cape Town, Cairo, Istanbul, etc. (Eastern European): 2:00 a.m.
- Sydney (Australian Eastern): 2:00 a.m.
- Hong Kong (Hong Kong Time): 5:00 a.m.
- Shanghai, Taipei, etc. (China Time): noon
- Tokyo (Japan Time): 8:00 a.m.
Clicks was far and away the largest engagement metric that we tracked in this study (compared with retweets, replies, and favorites).
Some of the recommended best times for individual time zones show that non-peak hours are the top time to tweet for clicks. This data may reflect some particularly high-achieving posts--some outliers--that bring up the average when the volume of tweets is lowest. Still, it'd be a great one to test for your profile to see what results you get.
One neat thing to keep in mind is that a non-peak hour in, say, Los Angeles may correspond to a peak hour in London or Paris. The worldwide audience is definitely something to consider when finding the best time to tweet.
The best times for overall engagement with your tweet.
We define engagement as clicks plus retweets, favorites, and replies. When looking at all these interactions together, we found the following trends for maximizing your chance to get the most engagement on your tweets:
- Tweets sent between 2:00 and 3:00 a.m. earn the most total engagement on average
- The highest amount of engagement per tweet occurs between 11:00 p.m. and 5:00 a.m., peaking between 2:00 and 3:00 a.m.
- The smallest amount of engagement happens during traditional work hours, between 9:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m.
The best times to tweet for engagement are quite the inverse of the most popular times to tweet. (The late-night infomercial effect--tweet when fewer people are tweeting--seems to be the case here.)
The best times for retweets and favorites on your tweets.
Adding together two of the most common engagement metrics, we found some interesting trends for maximizing the retweets and favorites on your tweets, especially for those with a U.S. audience.
Looking at 1.1 million tweets from U.S. Buffer users from January through March 2015, here were some of the notable takeaways we found:
- Tweets sent at the 9:00 p.m. hour in the U.S. earn the most retweets and favorites on average
- The highest number of retweets and favorites occurs between 8:00 p.m. and 11:00 p.m., peaking between 9:00 and 10:00 p.m.
- The lowest retweet-favorite engagement happens at 3:00 a.m.
Do any of the results surprise you? Are your results different? Please share in the comments below.