I have been wondering for a while what the best time would be to post a tweet on Twitter in order to reach the maximum audience size possible and therefore to have maximum effectiveness. I carried out a very limited survey myself by tweeting ‘What is the best time to Tweet?’ at four different times of day (10.30am, 1.30pm, 4.30pm and 7.30pm). I received roughly the same number of replies from the first 3 tweets, but none from the last one. I now realise that these results were possibly skewed due to the fact that I did this on a Friday and I have since read that, of all the weekdays, this is the slowest on Twitter!

The responses I received to my question were pretty varied, from ‘early morning’ to ‘evening’ to ‘any time’! These were indicative of people’s personal preference or when they found time to tweet and weren’t necessarily the answers needed when thinking about this strategically.

I therefore put my search head on and went to my friend Google to look for some more answers.  I found 3 particularly useful posts on the subject: http://www.website-design-newcastle.co.uk/articles/15http://socialnomics.net/2010/11/29/best-time-to-post/ and http://webanalysis.blogspot.com/2010/07/best-time-to-tweet.html#axzz17CRYz5Gq. I’ve summarised their findings here, as best I can!

Various American bloggers have come up with differing recommendations as to when to tweet, but the consensus does seem to be 9am – 3pm, with 10 am – 11:30 am and 1 – 3:30 pm being the best times to post, whereas the optimum time for being re-tweeted appears to be 4pm. (All American time zone – specific.)

In terms of which day to choose, studies have shown that  Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday are the best days for posting, while Saturday is the worst day and Holidays are slow traffic days (except for commerce sites).

A recent study by Virtue specific to Facebook also shows that Social Media may follow similar patterns to the rest of the traditional Web, ie.

  • The three biggest usage spikes tend to occur on weekdays at 11:00 a.m., 3:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m. ET.
  • The biggest spike occurs at 3:00 p.m. ET on Wednesdays (the rest of weekday usage is pretty steady)

(This is interesting since so many schools and companies block Facebook from 9 – 5 pm!)!

An English study carried out by ClarityWeb found that the difference between tweeting at a busy time and tweeting at a quiet time could be as much as 100% of the number of people that might respond. They remind us that Twitter is global and that the biggest user bases in different time zones may have a significant effect on the exposure your tweets get. They have found that:

The busiest time on Twitter is GMT 7pm to 9pm, ie. lunchtime in the USA and in most Pacific time zones. (This ties in with the American studies mentioned above.)

The quietest time on Twitter is GMT 7am to 9am, ie. the midnight shift in the USA.

GMT 1pm is mid-traffic time on Twitter.

So, for people in the UK posting at lunchtime  you’ll get an average response. But tweets posted between 1.30pm and 9pm can expect up to 30% more traffic, especially if posted at 5-9pm.

To ascertain which is the most active time for your particular followers, you could carry out your own survey, ie. tweet at 9:00 am, then tweet again the same message at 1:30 pm, then tweet again the same message at 7:00 pm and later too if you feel like it!

Analyze the data to see which tweets got the most clicks, @ or RTs. Repeat this few times and see if the pattern holds. If it does then you will know the best time to tweet to your followers!

Eric Qualman recommends that ‘if you have an incredible Tweet you need to get out, but it’s 2 a.m. on a Saturday, use a tool like hootsuite to schedule for the tweet to go out when more potential readers might read it’ Common sense really, but something we might forget in our excitement to share with our followers!

A note of caution – these are of course broad brush recommendations based on ‘average’ tweets – if you are tweeting to a very specific niche following, this may well affect the pattern of activity. Likewise, if you want to be the first to tweet about breaking news, then you just have to go for it!

Now – when’s the best time to post this blog?! …