Social media use in the U.S. has increased dramatically since the month of March. On Facebook and Instagram, active users in the U.S. increased by 2.5% and 3.7%, respectively. This may not sound like a lot, but when you consider this accounts for a 5.7 million active user increase on Facebook and a 4.4 million active user increase on Instagram, that helps put it in perspective.

With so many more people logging in, you should expect to see your post engagement go up, right? Not necessarily. If you’re not posting at the right time, you could be missing out on a huge opportunity for your brand.

You’ve previously been told that the best time to post on social media is Monday–Friday from late morning to early afternoon. Some people lump that together and average it to 12pm. Why is that? Because across all platforms, weekends see the lowest amount of engagement—especially Sundays. But during the week, people are looking for a distraction from work, so they tend to get online during the day. A lunch date with their phone is the perfect solace workers are seeking.

The problem with this information is that:

  1. It varies drastically by industry.
  2. It varies by platform.
  3. It varies by day of the week.

That’s why the 12pm method came about. While you may see ever-so-slightly higher engagement on your Twitter healthcare post on Wednesday at 8am than on Thursday at 12pm, the difference is not drastic enough to warrant scheduling each piece of content you create based on industry, topic and platform.

We’ve tried the 12pm weekday method, and it works. Or, rather, used to work.

If you’re not a fan of change, you better become one, because in this COVID-19 world, the times are a-changing, and quickly.

Gone are the days of people checking their social media (at least as frequently) during work. They’re all working from home, and they’re working constantly. 9–5pm hours don’t exist anymore. (Admit it, you’re guilty of checking your work email at 8pm like the rest of us.) With people working through lunch since they can’t go anywhere, or taking their much-needed lunch hour to get outside and get some fresh air if they can, 12pm is no longer the best time to post.

In fact, we are now seeing a dip at noon in when our clients’ fans are on Facebook, and a pronounced spike at 5pm. In the case study below, we see a 9.3% increase in one client’s online fans at 5pm as compared to 12pm, with an additional 243 followers online. This is likely due to the fact that, even though people may still be working after 5pm, this is the standard end-of-day work time, so when working remotely, people feel they can take a break then to make dinner, check social media and start their normal nightly routine.

time of day graph

Source: EVR Advertising, Client Case Study

Instagram is a bit more fickle, with average engagement times being spread across the board more sporadically from client to client. However, across all of our clients, engagement peaks well after 3pm and into the evening (sometimes as late as 12am), again illustrating that 12pm may not be the best time to share your content. The photo below illustrates the usage patterns of one of our clients’ Instagram followers. The darker the blue, the more followers are online. Note the spikes between 4pm and 1am.

instagram metrics

Source: EVR Advertising, Client Case Study

While LinkedIn and Twitter do not currently allow you to view metrics on when your followers are online, Sprout Social has broken it down for us. LinkedIn appears to see the most global engagement across industries between 8am and 2pm, and Twitter’s peak times are between 9am and 1pm.

If you want to check when your own Facebook or Instagram followers are logging in (and we suggest you do), follow these simple steps:

Facebook

  • Log in to Facebook’s Business Manager and select the Page you want to check.
  • Select Insights from the top navigation menu. Once in Insights, select Posts from the left sidebar navigation under “Tools.”
  • Select Insights from the left sidebar navigation and change the selection to “Posts.”
  • Once here, you will see a graph titled “When Your Fans Are Online.”

Instagram

  • Log in to Facebook’s Business Manager and select the Page you want to check.
  • Select Publishing Tools from the top navigation menu. Once in Publishing Tools, select Creator Studio from the left sidebar navigation under “Tools.”
  • In Creator Studio, toggle to Instagram (find the icon in the middle of the top of the page). Connect your brand’s Instagram account if you haven’t already.
  • Select Insights from the left sidebar navigation and change the selection to “Audience.”
  • Choose your account from the drop-down menu, then find “When Your Followers Are on Instagram” in the middle of the page. Switch from the default “Day” to “Day & Hour” to see the times when followers are most frequently online.

Not everyone’s followers in every industry on every platform are going to behave the same way—that’s a given. That’s why we’re not saying one specific time is the be-all, end-all of social media posting, the best-kept secret everyone has spent years trying to uncover. What we are saying is that you should take a look at your own insights to consider when the best time to post might be for your brand, especially as part of this new largely virtual world we’re living in. Once you do, you may find an increase in not only post reach and engagement, but new followers, as well.