There’s an art to writing a successful social post—but there’s also some science. We wanted to know the perfect length for a Facebook post message. Also, because it’s important to focus your social media efforts on the times of day when your audience is most likely to engage, we wanted to know the best times to post.
The True Anthem platform delivers more than 200,000 posts per month via hundreds of social media accounts for publishers. We analyzed more than 210,000 Facebook posts delivered via our platform throughout July, 2017 to understand how length of a social post message and time of day influence both engagement and traffic referrals.
Our analysis showed that indeed there are important differences and revealed best practices for social posting.
1. Short is sweet
First, we looked at message length to determine whether there’s a correlation between the number of characters and shares for a Facebook post. It turns out that the most popular posts for sharing are between 50 to 140 characters.
This holds true for posts that generate more referrals back to the publisher’s website, as well.
Best practice: Even on Facebook, Twitter length rules. Keep Facebook posts below that 140-character limit.
2. 24/7 strategy
While consumers’ social media activity these days is nonstop, we wanted to understand the times of day when engagement with posts was most likely to be at its peak. We also wanted to know whether that matched when posts were most likely to refer traffic back to publishers’ owned and operated sites. This is important because an excellent social media strategy includes both posts designed to increase engagement on Facebook and link posts.
We found definite peaks and valleys in both on-platform engagement and referrals, with a greater gap in engagement: close to 75 percent between times of least engagement and highest engagement.
In terms of referrals, there was close to a 45 percent difference between the slowest times and the most active—still a very significant difference for publishers. It’s not surprising that both engagement and referrals had their lowest points between 7 and 9 a.m. Eastern, the time when most workers are commuting or beginning the work day. Then, around 5 p.m., activity picks up as people begin to relax, check in with their friends and figure out what to do that evening.
It is noteworthy that social engagement begins to rise again at midnight and stays strong until 2 a.m. Eastern time. Referrals reach their highest at 7 p.m. and stay near their peak through 3 a.m.
Best practice: Maintain a 24/7 posting schedule to capture your audience when it’s most interested in hearing from you.
3. Better together
Finally, we looked for a connection between on-platform engagements and referrals back to a publisher’s site. There is indeed a strong correlation between these two elements.
This shows that it’s important for publishers to use a split strategy for posting to Facebook: One part of that strategy is traffic acquisition via link posts. The other part is increasing on-platform engagement. Engagement on Facebook leads to increased page affinity, which in turn makes it more likely that a page’s posts will be organically delivered to a wider audience.
Best practice: For every five traffic-generating link posts, make sure you are posting at least one native video on Facebook. Our customers that have maintained these ratios have grown their traffic significantly year over year.
Why your experience may vary
This information derives from aggregated data from all True Anthem’s customers—magazines, digital sites, news outlets, broadcasters, cable networks and local TV stations. Your media company may have unique patterns of engagement and referral, so it’s important to do your own analysis. However, if you don’t have this capability, talk to us about how we can help you.