Updated 5/4/2016: Added some new insights and learnings into the blog post here on the best times to tweet. We’re so grateful for the chance to learn from the community on this!
Imagine removing all guesswork when you schedule your tweets, knowing the best times to experiment with tweeting for maximum clicks and maximum engagement.
As someone who is working on social media marketing strategy or shares frequently to social media, this info would be fantastic to have! We’re always eager to dig up new research into social media best practices—things like length and frequency and timing.
The timing element, in particular, feels like one where we’d love to dig deeper. And we just so happen to have a host of data on this from the 2 million users who have signed up for Buffer!
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. We’d love to share with you what we found!
Once you’ve got your timing down, we’d love to help you schedule and analyze your posts! So you can drive the most traffic, engagement and conversions.
Update: Optimizing your schedule is one of the strategies I cover in the Actionable Social Media Strategies email course. I’d love to share some practical methods on timing your tweets with you there. (Plus, you’ll get pointers on 24 more areas of social media!)
The best time to tweet: Our 4.8 million-tweet research study
Our key learnings
Wow, we learned so much looking at the awesome stats from those who use Buffer! Here were some of the takeaways we came up with. I’d love to hear what catches your eye, too!
- Based on all of the tweet data we have collected, the early morning hours appear to be the time in which tweets receive the most clicks, on average.
- Evenings and late at night are the times when your tweets receive the most favorites and retweets, on average.
- In some cases, times with the highest amount of average engagement are almost inversely related to the most popular times to tweet.
- The most popular time to tweet and the best times to tweet for engagement differ across time zones, so it’s still important to experiment and find the times when your audience is most engaged.
What you might do with this data
In some of the results below, you’ll see specific times that we found to be the most popular times to tweet or the best times to tweet for clicks, for example.
What we love to do with specific takeaways like this is use them as the starting points for new experiments.
Over time we’ve come to learn that research studies like these are great for inspiration, not prescription. I’d pause slightly in suggesting that you change your whole Buffer schedule to align with these new Twitter times—unless your data and analysis says so!
What I’d love to suggest is that these new times perhaps give you ideas about what to test out next with your social media sharing, perhaps some counterintuitive suggestions about what to try—tweeting at non-peak times, tweeting at 2:00 a.m. for clicks, for instance.
And we’d love to hear back on how any of these tests turn out for you!
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 is 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.
What you might do with this data
The most popular time to tweet is also the time when there is the highest volume of tweets, perhaps making it a bit more difficult for your tweet to stand out in someone’s timeline.
What might be great to try here is tweeting at non-peak hours, the times in the early morning and late evening.
Another thought is that the most popular times to tweet could very well correlate to the times when most people are on Twitter. Perhaps it’s worth testing also to see if tweeting during a popular time is worthwhile simply for the amount of people who are online.
(One great stat to look at with this is tweet impressions, which you can find in Twitter’s free analytics.)
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): noon
- Shanghai, Taipei, etc. (China Time): 9:00 p.m.
For any clarification on this or the other research throughout this article, feel free to leave a comment and we’ll get right back to you.
Takeaways & thoughts:
- The most popular time to post could be due to a number of factors: This is when most people have access to Twitter (perhaps at a work computer), this is 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. Also, 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.
What you might do with this data
We were fascinated to see that the best time to earn the most clicks on average was the middle of the night. It’s a quite counterintuitive results!
One interpretation here is that with this being the average, there is the possibility that outliers can have a large impact on the data—for instance an tweet that gets 4,000 clicks at 2:00 a.m. would raise the average significantly.
So what I might take away from this is that tweeting at 2:00 a.m. would likely not mean that every 2:00 a.m. tweet will see really high click numbers but that every once in awhile a 2:00 a.m. tweet could really take off.
** Scroll to the bottom of the post for an updated explanation of this data (as well as some alternate views). We’re very grateful for all the helpful comments on this! **
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): 2:00 a.m.
- Cape Town, Cairo, Istanbul, etc. (Eastern European): 8:00 p.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.
Takeaways & thoughts:
- Clicks was far and away the largest engagement metric that we tracked in this study (compared to 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 one to consider when finding the best time to tweet.
- The 2:00 a.m. recommendation in the worldwide chart is made by looking at the average of all the data and hence may include the effect of certain outlier accounts. One way I like to look at this is that the potential exists for great leaps in engagement for your tweet by posting at 2:00 a.m., however it may be unlikely to expect that posting at 2:00 a.m. would bring consistently higher click rates on each and every individual tweet.
For more context on this, see our note from Julian, Buffer’s data scientist, below.
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.
Takeaways & thoughts:
- 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.
(Interesting to note, the takeaways from this data compared to the worldwide engagement data differ slightly for a couple reasons: 1) clicks represent a huge portion of overall engagement, and 2) the worldwide vs. US datasets vary.)
The methodology for our research
We studied all tweets ever sent through Buffer—4.8 million tweets since October 2010!
Based on this sample set, we looked at the number of clicks per tweet, favorites per tweet, retweets per tweet, and replies per tweet, in accordance with the time of day that the tweet was posted to Twitter.
Further, we segmented the results according to time zones, based on the assumption that the learnings might be more actionable if they could be specific to exactly where you live and work.
We had an interesting opportunity to consider whether median or average would be the better metric to use for our insights. It turns out that so many tweets in the dataset receive minimal engagement that the median was often zero. For this reason, we chose to display the average.
Thanks for all your great comments on this data. We’re so grateful for your help in improving these results. See below for an update from our data scientist Julian. ?
Update: Context & clarifications on the Twitter timing data
Some of the findings in this study are quite counter-intuitive. In particular, our finding of 2:00 a.m. as the best time to tweet for clicks really stands out.
I would love to take this opportunity to try to explain why.
The early morning hours were when tweets received the most clicks, on average, in several of the time zones we analyzed. There are several factors apart from the hour of day that may affect the amount of clicks that a tweet receives, many of which we’ve been grateful to learn from you in the comments and via social and email.
- The number of followers a Twitter account has can have a very large influence on the number of clicks, retweets, or favorites a tweet receives.
- The type of content, day of week, and messaging can also influence engagement.
When analyzing our tweet data, I did not control for these extraneous factors, and I’m sorry for the confusion this has caused. Analyzing the data as-is means that, when you see a result of 2:00 a.m. to 3:00 a.m. as the hour in which tweets receive the most clicks, this is an average amount of clicks for all of the tweets in that particular timezone.
This is an important consideration for a couple reasons:
- It means that large accounts with many followers have an unusually large influence on the average amount of clicks per tweet.
- Especially in the early morning hours, these large accounts have a disproportionate effect on the average amount of clicks because of both the high follower count and the relatively low tweet volume from many of the other Twitter accounts.
For example, the graph below shows the total number of tweets posted from accounts in each follower tier in the Eastern European Timezone (EET).
The largest accounts, those in tier T06 with over 5,000 followers, tweet far more often than all of the other accounts and tweet mostly late at night, when other accounts don’t tweet as much. This raises a red flag in my mind. What I could do here is segment the data, so that data from the large accounts doesn’t confound the findings from the rest of the accounts, which may represent a more typical Twitter user. (I did this below, if you’d like to take a look!)
Another great thought from those of you who read the post is that we could look at the data with another convenient statistic, the median (the middle value in a series of values), to compare the amount of engagement received by tweets sent out at different hours of the day.
The main reasons I chose to stick with the average is that so many tweets in our dataset received no clicks, retweets, or favorites. As a result, most of the medians for the different hours of day turned out to be 0!
More complicated transformations of the data could have also been employed, but the use of such methods make the findings a bit more difficult to interpret, and we’re very keen to provide actionable insight to all of our readers!
I totally understand that, while including all of the accounts gives a full view of all of our Twitter data, it means that some of the data might be skewed by these large accounts tweeting in unusual hours. I definitely don’t want skewed data, and I want to be fully transparent about this and what we’re doing to correct this.
The best time to tweet for clicks: An alternate way of looking at the data
To control for the effect of the large accounts on average engagement, I looked at the total number of tweets posted from accounts in seven separate follower tiers as well as the average likes received from those tweets.
In some cases an outlier in the data was also rather obvious. For instance, seeing tweets from accounts with fewer than 100 followers receive thousands of clicks on average raises a red flag in my mind that it could be an outlier. In other cases, I found that large accounts tweeted much more than other accounts during unusual hours and received an unnatural spike in average clicks.
I found that it might be useful to remove these segments from the data.
An example of a case such as this can be seen in the graph below.
After filtering out accounts with a disproportionate amount of weight that were skewing the data, here is what we found. I’d love to hear your feedback and would be happy to respond to any questions in the comments! ?
Best Time to Tweet for Clicks, Worldwide: 6:00 to 7:00 a.m.
(excluding outliers with abnormally volatile average click counts)
- Los Angeles, San Francisco, etc. (Pacific Time): 10:00 p.m.
- Denver (Mountain Time): 7:00 p.m.
- Chicago (Central Time): 2:00 a.m.
- New York, Boston, Atlanta, Miami, etc. (Eastern Time): 2:00 p.m.
- Madrid, Rome, Paris, Berlin, etc. (Central European): 5:00 p.m.
- Cape Town, Cairo, Istanbul, etc. (Eastern European): 5:00 a.m.
- Sydney (Australian Eastern): 1:00 p.m.
- Hong Kong (Hong Kong Time): 5:00 a.m.
- Shanghai, Taipei, etc. (China Time): 7:00 a.m.
- Tokyo (Japan Time): 8:00 a.m.
We mentioned earlier that these fun stats are oftentimes better for inspiration rather than prescription. We wanted to take a moment to dive into a few different ways to further help us decide what timing we should go for when sending out tweets.
Let’s take a look at four of the most useful experiments that we ran when looking at the timing of Tweets:
1.) The data-driven approach to finding the best time to tweet:
If I had to suggest just one of these approaches to determining what time is best to Tweet, it’d be this one. Social media timing is so hard to pin down exactly that it definitely pays off to do your own experiments and pay attention to the data about when your audience is most receptive.
You can test this out with a bunch of different tools, but I’m going to use Buffer to show you some examples, since it’s so easy to do within Buffer.
1. Pick 4 times to test
You can pick any number of times to test, of course, but any more than four would be too much for me to keep track off so I’ll start there.
2. Schedule Tweets for each of these times
To keep the data as consistent as possible without annoying our followers with the exact same Tweet four times a day (we do post the same links multiple times, but we spread them out more), I’m going to post simple Tweets with a headline + a link each time.
3. Examine your analytics to compare
Once these have all posted, I can take a look at Buffer’s analytics the following day and see how the Tweets compare for clicks, favorites and Retweets. Here’s our queue with my posts added:
And here’s an example of what our analytics would look like:
4. Keep testing
There are lots more factors to test if I want to get useful data out of this experiment. Next, I’d keep doing this test on different days of the week, including weekends, and see how the results are affected by the day of the week.
We’ve also seen higher engagement recently with inline images on Twitter, so I’d do a follow-up study to test how Tweets including images perform at different times and on different days.
5. Refine your approach
Once you’ve got some useful data, you can refine your approach based on this. If you’re using Buffer, you can easily update your schedule so that you Tweet at better times based on your research.
Then, you can repeat the process on a regular basis, especially as your content changes and you get more followers, to make sure you’re always Tweeting at the most optimal times.
2.) The tools-based approach to tweet time optimization
There are a number of tools that help you come up with the best times to Tweet. Tweriod is a great example, which lets you run analysis on your own Tweets and those of your followers to see when you should Tweet more often.
Followerwonk is another tool that we love at Buffer. I’m going to give you a run-down of how Followerwonk works and how it integrates into Buffer as an example, but you can obviously use whichever tool suits you best.
To start with, head over to Followerwonk and click on “Analyze followers”
Next, pop your Twitter username into the box and select “analyze their followers” from the drop-down:
You can also choose to analyze the habits of people you follow, but in this case we’re looking for the best timing to reach more of our followers. When your report is done, you’ll see a bunch of graphs to tell you more about where your followers are from, what language they speak and how many followers they have. The really useful one, though, is the one below which shows when your followers are most active:
If you use Buffer, you can take advantage of this by creating a Buffer schedule based on your Followerwonk report. Just choose how many times you want to post each day, and hit the “Schedule at Buffer” button.
I also find the graph of how active I am really useful. As you can see by comparing the two, most of my followers are active when I’m asleep:
Guess I’d better get my Buffer account filled up again!
3.) The research-backed approach
Twitter is such a popular network for mobile users that it can be a bit tricky to lock down exactly when the best time to post is. Here are some suggestions from the research I’ve found:
Twitter engagement for brands is 17% higher on weekends.
If you’re tweeting from your company account, you might want to keep this in mind, especially if engagement is what you’re looking for. Buffer can help you spread out your tweets to post at the optimal times, so you don’t even have to work weekends to take advantage of this! Click-through rates are generally highest on weekends, as well as mid-week, on Wednesdays.
For B2B marketers, it’s not surprising to see in this Argyle Social study that weekdays provide 14% more engagement than weekends.
When we look at the time of day, retweets have been shown to be highest around 5pm.
When optimizing for clicks, research from bit.ly showed that 1–3pm is the best time to Tweet.
This study also found that Twitter gets the most traffic from 9am–3pm, which could be good or bad, depending on whether you can get your voice heard amongst the crowd.
Research from KISSmetrics, on the other hand, says noon and 6pm are the best times.
This could be due to lunch breaks and people looking for something to keep them occupied on the commute home after work.
There are lots of Twitter users who primarily use a mobile device—rarely loading up Twitter on their desktops. Twitter did an interesting study of these users and found that they are 181% more likely to be on Twitter during their commute.
They’re also 119% more likely to use Twitter during school or work hours.
4.) The “What do the Pros do?” approach
Lastly, you can try learning from the habits of others. We’re big fans of this at Buffer, and we try to keep track of what our favorite marketers are doing on Twitter.
If you follow successful people in your industry on Twitter, you can easily get an idea of how often they Tweet and which times lead to more engagement for them.
Guy Kawaksaki is a great example here, as he has some controversial Tweeting habits, but they are certainly working out for him, judging by his massive following.
In particular, Guy is known for posting the same content multiple times, and one reason he advocates doing this is to reach your followers in different time zones. He’s found that this increases the traffic to his content, particularly when Tweeting the same link several times:
The reason for repeated tweets is to maximize traffic and therefore advertising sales. I’ve found that each tweet gets approximately the same amount of clickthroughs. Why get 600 page views when you can get 2,400?
So posting your content in eight-hour intervals like Guy does might be an experiment you can try on your own Twitter account.
Of course, with this one, there’s a big caveat. The followers of people you look up to might be completely different to yours, making this approach less than helpful. But if you discover there is an overlap in followers, you can try copying their approach to see if it works for you.
Over to you: What are your takeaways on the best time to tweet?
We’re so grateful for the chance to dig into the stats from the many tweets that people choose to share with Buffer. The data is super insightful, both for sharing with others and for impacting our own social media marketing plans!
What did you notice from the stats here? Did any of the results surprise you or get you thinking about your plans in a different way? I’d love to hear your take on this! Feel free to share any thoughts at all in the comments!
Oh, and by the way: Buffer can help you schedule and publish your posts at the best possible times — so you can drive more traffic and engagement with each update!
Image sources: IconFinder, Blurgrounds, Death to the Stock Photo, UnSplash