Study Reveals What Times Facebook Users Are Most Active

A new study finds the times that Facebook users are most active on the site.

Social media in general, and Facebook specifically, have changed marketing forever. Facebook gives companies and brands direct access to customer thoughts, feelings, reactions, responses, and “Likes.” A company or brand can make a post and gauge the fan reactions within minutes rather than assembling a focus group or waiting for the numbers to come out. It adds another layer of insight.

Last week, social media management company Vitrue released a comprehensive, nearly 3-year long study identifying the days and hours Facebook users are most active on company and brand sites. From August 10, 2007 to October 10, 2010, they examined over 1.64 million posts and 7.56 million comments on more than 1,500 brand streams. “Likes” and “shares” were excluded from consideration.

Some interesting trends emerged:

Morning posts perform better.

Although brands tend to make the bulk of their posts toward midday (3:00 PM ET), morning posts perform best and garner more comments per post. User engagement for these morning posts is 39.7% higher than afternoon posts.

Does this mean brands are better served front loading all their posts? Not necessarily; morning posts might do better because they appear more sparsely, letting them stand out. A flood of morning posts might overwhelm users, reduce visibility, and lower interaction.

Users are more active at the top of the hour.

Posts made in the top of the hour (:0 to :15 minutes) garnered more user interaction than posts made in other parts of the hour.

At the top of the hour, it’s a fresh start. The clock is at :0. The whole hour’s ahead of you, and there’s plenty of time to mess around on Facebook. I can imagine someone glancing at the clock, telling themselves, “Okay, it’s two o’clock, time to get some work done,” then switching to Facebook for one last look.

Weekdays are busiest, Wednesday especially.

Brand page interaction is pretty steady throughout the week, with Wednesday at 3:00 PM ET showing the most activity. Saturday and Sunday show distinct drop-offs in activity, with Sunday displaying the lowest amount of fan activity (comments).

Usage spikes occur pretty reliably on weekdays at 11:00 AM, 3:00 PM, and 8:00 PM ET.

This is fascinating, useful information for brands, but they might want to think twice before shifting all posts to coincide with the activity spikes. Consider the increased morning comments – fewer posts begetting greater fan activity and more comments. Saturating the peak times with more posts might just cause the peak times to shift.

But that’s how this stuff works. You change one variable and it affects the others. The key, I guess, is following trends, staying abreast of use patterns, and keeping them in mind when making posts.