What's in this session?

  • #1: Post quality (1:24)
  • #2: Use the social media grading formula (3:35)
  • #3: Find the wave, not the spike (5:16)
  • #4: Industry data (6:03)
  • #5: Facebook (Non-profits) (6:25)
  • #6: Instagram (Non-profits) (7:20)
  • #7: Native insights (7:54)

Show notes and resources

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The Transcript

Brady: Imagine working on an awesome social media post for your church only to publish it and see it fall flat. None of us want that, and this is why it’s important to understand the best and worst times to be publishing on social media. On the other hand, there’s really no exact science to this, and so in this podcast, you’ll learn about the research we do have for optimizing post times along with a number of other methods that we like you can use to maximize engagement on your next social media post.

Alex: Well, hey there, and welcome to Pro Church Tools, the show where in 10 minutes or less, you’re going to get a dose of tips and tactics to help your church share the message of Jesus while we navigate the biggest communication shift in 500 years. I’m your host, Alex Mills, joined as always by the boss man, Brady Shearer.

Brady: It was about a month ago that we launched our new social media program for churches and one of the questions that we’ve been getting the most that we think all of Pro Church Nation can benefit from when we understand the answer is, when is the best time of the day to post?

Alex: I need the minute. I need the second.

Brady: Is it 9:41 AM Pacific daylight time zone standard daylight savings?

Alex: It’s probably 7:77.

Brady: Wait, that’s the Lord’s time. What would that actually be? 8:17?

Alex: 8:17 AM, folks.

Brady: 8:17 AM is the Lord’s time and so we’ve got seven different points that we want to cover on how you can discover the best posting time for your church and the first point is the most important. So if you’re going to listen to anything of this entire episode, it’s this point right here, and that is the fact that thanks to the social algorithms and the way the news feeds and our feeds on social work now, post time is so much less important than it used to be.

Brady: Think about Twitter or Instagram, when a chronological newsfeed used to exist. That’s a long time away for Facebook, but it wasn’t too long ago when Instagram and Twitter, which show your posts in order, when that was the case, post timing was so important because you wanted to maximize the order and the timing so that your posts would be seen when most people are online. But now, as long as you have a good social post, the social algorithm is going to index it and prioritize it.

Brady: So one example is a Instagram post that I actually published today. You’re seeing it on the screen right now. Essentially, all you need to do if you’re not seeing this Instagram post, all you need to know is that it was just a really funny post that I knew it was going to get a ton of likes because it was a meme and it was funny. And I purposely posted it because I knew that it was going to drive a ton of engagement.

Brady: When I went to post it, in my head, I was like, “Oh, you know what? Now’s not a great time to post it.” And then I took my own advice and I was like, “Wait, I know this is going to get like tons of engagement.” It doesn’t matter when I post this because one, two, and even three days later, this post is still going to be getting more likes because the algorithm will prioritize it and your post quality will always trump the timing of your post.

Alex: It’s funny. When these algorithms changed on Twitter and Facebook and Instagram from that reverse chronological order to now, prioritizing what the internet thinks we want to see, a lot of us were outraged. We were like, “I want to see chronological feed.” And maybe for the user, maybe a chronological feed would still be preferential, but for us who are posting, this actually works in our advantage, like you said, because we don’t only have that short window of time for somebody to see our posts.

Alex: But when I have a post that does well on social, like you said, I’m getting interaction on that post days later because the algorithms are still putting it in front of people. So post quality matters so much more than post timing and that works in our favor.

Brady: Bottom line, cream rises. Beyond that, there are some things that you can do to optimize post timing and one of the things that we recommend you doing is look at your own engagement on the posts that you’ve published over the last 90 days. Give them the score that we always recommend using the formula, engagement divided by reach, and put all 90 days worth of posts next to each other, organize them with the best scores first and the worst scores last, and then cross reference the best 10, the best 20 with the time that they were published and try to see it.

Brady: Is there any trend on the time? And this isn’t an exact science because you can’t just isolate the single variable of time. All the posts are different, but when you look at the best, the top 25 percent of your posts over the last three months, were the majority of them posted in the morning, or the majority in the afternoon, or the majority in the evening? And if you do see a trend like that, that can actually inform you based on your audience’s unique response and unique behavior on different social platforms.

Brady: All social platforms are also different. That’s an important nuance that we need to make a point on. Facebook and Instagram have very different behavior. So if you see that on Facebook, wow, afternoon is a really good time, don’t just assume that’s the same for Instagram. It’s likely not.

Alex: I did a similar personal case study on one of my accounts once when I was sending up a new account. For the first few weeks, I scheduled posts 9:00, 3:00, and 6:00. So 9:00 in the morning, 3:00 in the afternoon, and 6:00 in the evening, and I did that every day. So 9:00 on Monday, 3:00 on Tuesday, 6:00 on Wednesday, repeat, just to kind of give me an idea of when people were interacting with this content. Like you said, looking at your engagement and how your followers are interacting with your posts is one of the best ways to gauge when to post.

Brady: Third point, you want to look for the wave and not the spike. What that means is that there’s really no exact minute. We were joking earlier about 8:17 AM or PM as the exact minute and maybe we could find even within that minute, the precise second within that 60 seconds. No, no, no. You want to look for the wave, meaning if you looked at a heat map, which we’re going to show you in just a moment, if you looked at a heat map of your day, when are the most concentrated times of people online?

Brady: Is it maybe 12:00 to 2:00 PM? Is it 4:00 to 6:00 PM? Is it 9:00 PM to 10:00 PM? It’s not about the the spike and the exact minute. You want to look for the wave. And going off of that point, we’ve got industry data from Sprout that looked at plenty and plenty of posts using all of their users, and they were able to aggregate all that data into the overall best practices. Now, these aren’t individualized for you, but that doesn’t mean that they’re any less useful.

Brady: In fact, so Sprout Social broke down their data in terms of different industries. They did healthcare, they did education, and they also did non-profits. So we’re going to show you the data from the non-profits and this entire study is linked in the show notes for this episode. So when it comes to Facebook, non-profits for Facebook, Sprout Social found that the best times to post on Facebook is Wednesday and Friday at 2:00 PM. Other notably high engagement times include Monday at 9:00 AM, Tuesday at 6:00 PM, Thursday at 10:00 AM, and Friday at 11:00 AM. And the safest times overall to post are, not surprisingly, 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM on weekdays.

Brady: Here’s where things get interesting and why individualism and looking at your own audience is always important to cross reference with the aggregate data because Sprout Social found that Sunday has the least amount of engagement for non-profits on Facebook, which of course would not be true for you as a church because we all know that churches only an almost always post on Sundays. Oh, now it’s time to post 27 Instagram stories. No. Why don’t you spread that out? That’s a sign that I-

Alex: Another episode.

Brady: Instagram for non-profits, that same study from Sprout found that the best time to post on Instagram, because again, all social platforms are different, Friday at 2:00 PM. Other notably high engagement times include Tuesday at 3:00 and 9:00 PM, Wednesday 3:00 to 4:00 PM, Thursday 2:00 to 3:00 PM, Friday at 10:00 AM, and the safest times to post are weekdays from noon to 5:00 PM on Instagram. In this Sprout study, they found that Saturday has the least amount of engagement for non-profits.

Alex: Well, and speaking of Instagram, there’s this really great tool natively within Instagram that we can all use. If you have a business profile on Instagram and if you’re a church and you’re listening and you’re not set up as a business account, you need to do that right now. And after you’ve done that, Instagram is going to give you these built in insights and so you can get insights on how your posts are performing content and demographics, but there’s also an audience section and it’ll actually give you a breakdown not only daily, like what days are your followers most active, but within those days, it’s going to give you actually an hourly breakdown of the average amount of users that are following you that are active during that hour.

Alex: And so that’s just the way that you can personalize it. You can take this data from Sprout. Sure. Take these other points that we’re talking about. That’s great, but what are the people that are currently following you? How are they behaving on social and interacting with your account? And built right into Instagram, there’s some great insights in there for you. So take advantage of that.

Brady: There used to be these apps that you could use and platforms online-

Alex: Yeah, it used to be called Prime.

Brady: Yeah, you would put in your handle and it would give you all the, 9:17 AM on Tuesdays only is the absolute best time to post. Those really are not that reliable, so don’t get sucked into this thought that an app is going to tell you the exact minute. The summary from this entire podcast, this episode, most importantly, the social algorithms determine what you see. Cream rises, quality more important than post timing, for sure. Beyond that, look at the aggregate industry data, cross reference it with your own posts’ performance, and then individualize data that you’re getting from the social platforms themselves, not a third party application.

Brady: Because Instagram has all the data and Prime, the one that you’re using, they don’t necessarily, almost certainly, don’t have access to the data that Instagram does. So don’t expect those to be a panacea that’s going to solve everything. They won’t. Cream rises, post quality always most important. And that’ll do it for this episode of Pro Church Tools. We’ll see you next time.



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