Time Is On Your Side

Did you see those silly cats on Tumblr, that breaking news on Twitter, and those photos of your friend’s kids on Facebook? Different social networks have their own distinct personalities. Bitly links are shared across all social networking services, giving us a unique viewpoint on how these networks differ.

We track metrics like the main type of content being shared on a network, the geographic locations of the people sharing and viewing the content, and how the popularity of the network has risen and fallen compared to other networks. Studying the differences between these networks leads us to interesting insights, for example, did you know that the half-life of a link on Twitter is 2.8 hours?

Recently weʼve been exploring how content propagates (or “goes viral”) through social networks, particularly how the day and time something is posted affects the eventual amount of attention it will receive.

Note: All the plots are based on EST. You will see day of the week, starting with Monday, on the Y axis, and hour of the day, starting with midnight, along the X axis. For the first plot in each section, the darker the blue block, the more traffic on average links posted during that hour received in the following 24 hour period of time. White blocks, show when links got less traffic. For the second plot, the darker blue represents when the site is most active, which we calculate based on number of clicks on Bitly links coming from these social platforms.

Twitter

For Twitter, posting in the afternoon earlier in the week is your best chance at achieving a high click count (1-3pm Monday through Thursday). Posting after 8pm should be avoided. Specifically, don’t bother posting after 3pm on a Friday since, as far as being a gateway to drive traffic to your content, it appears that Twitter doesn’t work on weekends.
The peaks of Twitter activity fall before the optimal time to post. The peak traffic times for Twitter are 9am through 3pm, Monday through Thursday. Posting on Twitter when there are many people clicking does help raise the average number of clicks, but it in no way guarantees an optimal amount of attention, since there is more competition for any individual’s attention. An optimal strategy must weigh the number of people paying attention against the number of other posts vying for that attention.

Facebook

Links posted from 1pm to 4pm result in the highest average click throughs. The peak time of the week was on Wednesday at 3pm. Links posted after 8pm and before 8am will have more difficulty achieving high amounts of attention. As with Twitter, avoid posting on the weekends.

Facebook traffic peeks mid-week, 1 to 3pm. While traffic starts to increase around 9am, one would be wise to wait to post until 11am. Traffic from Facebook fades after 4pm. Despite similar traffic counts at 8pm and 7pm, posting at 7pm will result in more clicks on average than posting at 8pm.

Tumblr


Tumblr likes to party! This network shows a drastically different pattern of usage from Facebook and Twitter. One should wait until at least 4pm to post. Also postings after 7pm on average receive more clicks over 24 hours than content posted mid-day during the week. Friday evening, a no-man’s land on other platforms, is an optimal time to post on Tumblr.

Bitly traffic from Tumblr peaks between 7pm and 10pm on Monday and Tuesday, with similar traffic on Sunday.

Conclusion

It’s easy to see that just like your neighborhood restaurants, each social network has its own culture and behavior patterns. By understanding the simple characteristics of each social network, you can publish your content at exactly the right time for it to reach the maximum number of people.