What's the Best Time of Day to Tweet on Twitter?

Twitter data reveals when you can expect to get the most exposure

Photo © Thanasak Wanichpan / Getty Images

If you manage a Twitter account for a website, a business or perhaps even just for personal reasons, it's important to know whether your followers are actually seeing and engaging with you. Knowing the best time of day to tweet is essential if you want to make the most out of your social media presence and maximize engagement.

Buffer, a popular social media management tool, published its findings for the best time of day to tweet, based on extensive Twitter research using data collected over a period of several years from almost five million tweets across 10,000 profiles.

All time zones were taken into consideration, looking at the most popular time to tweet, the best time to get clicks, the best time for likes/retweets and the best time for overall engagement.

CoSchedule, which is another popular social media management tool, also published its own findings on the best time of day to tweet using a combination of its own data plus data taken from over a dozen other sources (including Buffer). The study actually goes beyond Twitter to include the best times for Facebook, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Google+ and Instagram as well.

If You Just Want to Tweet When Everyone Else Is Doing It

According to Buffer's data, the most popular time to tweet, regardless of where you are in the world, is ideally sometime between 12:00 p.m. and 1:00 p.m. in your time zone. CoSchedule, however, extends that timeframe to the period between 12:00 p.m. and 3:00 p.m, specifically on weekdays. 

Buffer found that tweets start really piling up around 11:00 a.m., peaking sometime after noon but before 1:00 p.m. hits. Volume is at its lowest for the hour in the early morning between 3:00 a.m. and 4:00 a.m, so keep that in mind. CoSchedule, on the other hand, found that its peak best time to tweet was at 5:00 p.m.

If You Want to Maximize Clickthroughs

Buffer's data says that tweets including links receive more clicks on average if they're tweeted out in the very early morning hours in your local time zone—between 2:00 a.m. and 3:00 a.m. Volume is expectantly low in the wee hours, which essentially maximizes your chances of getting your tweets seen by those who are awake or waking up soon.

Buffer also found clickthroughs were highest specifically at noon and the hour between 6:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. Interestingly enough, the least amount of clicks you can expect to receive is between 9:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m., or when volume is highest.

CoSchedule found similar results, saying that noon specifically and 3 p.m. are good times to tweet if you want to increase retweets and clickthroughs in general. The hour between 5:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m. was also found to show increased clickthroughs.

If You Want to Maximize Engagement

Accounts that don't tweet as many links might be more interested in getting more likes and retweets than clicks. This is where it can get a little tricky.

Buffer looked at just over one million tweets coming from US-based accounts to study like and retweet engagement. The highest humber of likes and retweets per tweet on average occur between 8:00 p.m. and 11:00 p.m in the US, peaking sometime between 9:00 p.m. and 10:00 p.m.

CoSchedule reported results that overlapped but were also slightly mixed according to the different sources it looked at. Digital marketing guru Neil Patel said that tweeting at 5:00 p.m. will result in the most retweets whereas Ell & Co. found the best retweets results could be seen between the hours of noon to 1:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. Huffington Post, on the other hand, said that maximum retweets occur between noon and 5:00 p.m.

If You Want More Clicks Plus More Engagement

Buffer says that on average, you can expect to receive the most clicks and engagement (likes, retweets and replies) by tweeting again between 2:00 a.m. and 3:00 a.m.

The highest amount of engagement occurs in the middle of the night, between 11:00 p.m. and 5:00 a.m—coinciding with when volume is low. Clicks plus engagement per tweet is at its lowest during traditional work hours between 9:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m.

CoSchedule found some results that didn't agree with Buffer's findings above. Both retweets and clickthroughs were shown to be maximized at noon specifically, at 3:00 p.m. and between 5:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m. Social media superstar Dustin Stout also advised against tweeting overnight, saying that the worst times to tweet were between the hours of 8:00 p.m. and 9:00 a.m.

An Important Note Regarding These Findings

If you were surprised to find out how different these findings can be based on where they've come from, you're not alone. Keep in mind that these numbers don't necessarily tell the whole story and have also been averaged out.

Buffer added a note at the end pointing out that the number of followers of a particular account can largely influence clicks and engagement, and looking at the median rather than the average may have turned up more accurate results if so many tweets included in the dataset didn't have such little engagement. Types of content, the day of the week, and even messaging also play important roles here. These were not accounted for in the study.

In addition, accounts with large followings that are active late at night unsurprisingly see significantly more clicks and engagement—possibly having greater influence on how it all averaged out to reveal the time between 2:00 a.m. to 3:00 a.m. to be the best for maximizing clicks and engagement.

So, should you set up your tweets to be scheduled to go out so early in the morning? Maybe, but possibly not. Remember that your results will vary depending on the content you put out, who your followers are, their demographics, their jobs, where they're located, your relationship with them and so on.

If most of your followers are 9-to-5 workers living in the Eastern Standard Time Zone, tweeting at 2:00 a.m. EST on a weekday may not work out so great for you. On the other hand, if you're targeting college kids on Twitter, tweeting very late or very early in the morning may bring up better results.

Keep these findings from this study in mind, and use them to experiment with your own Twitter strategy. Do your own investigative work based on your own brand and your own audience, and you'll undoubtedly uncover some valuable information about your followers' tweeting habits over time.