We all know there’s a bazillion people out there just like us, posting, tweeting, emailing and loading content all the time. But do you ever wonder when is actually the best time to post to Facebook or Twitter? Or how long the link to content you tweeted or posted to youtube is “alive” before people stop caring?
Well never fear, you don’t have to spend a fortune to find out. Bit.ly – that magic web app that shortens your url’s – can tell you! Since 2008, The science team at Bit.ly has been diving into more than 25 billion links Bitly users have saved to come up with some interesting insights into the when and where of online eyeballs. Flip the Media was lucky enough to speak with Anna Smith of the Bit.ly science team who graciously answered some of the questions that have been keeping us up at night.
When are the eyeballs I’m stalking where I want them?
Does it matter what time you post your content? You bet – and it differs by platform according to Bit.ly. They recently took a look at how the day and time something is posted affects the eventual amount of attention it will receive across a range of platforms including Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr and Pinterest. I suggest you take a look at Time is on Your Side on the Bit.ly blog to get the full and proper statistical low down on what they found. But for the statically challenged like me – here are the highlights:
Using some cool blue graphs Bitly were able to show a number of things as virtual temporal “heat maps”. For Twitter, posting between 1pm and 3pm Monday through Thursday is your best chance at achieving a high click count. After 8pm, twitters have gone to sleep and apparently they always take a long weekend with click counts diving after 3pm on a Friday and not re-emerging to Monday afternoon.
Apparently everyone is on Facebook at work. Facebook links posted from 1pm to 4pm result in the highest average click–throughs. I guess the kids are also not paying too much attention after lunch time either. The peak time of the week is Wednesday at 3pm – which is the hump of hump day. This makes sense as everyone is probably feeling like doing nothing else but slacking off online. Like twitter Facebookers go to bed at 8pm (i guess when their parents tell them) and take the weekend off so don’t bother after 8pm or on Saturday and Sunday.
The Tumblr crew however, like to stay up late. Typical bloody creative types. It shows a very different pattern of usage from Facebook and Twitter. Wait until at least after 4pm to post. Presumably by then they have finished breakfast and are ready to go online. Posting after 7pm, on average, receives more clicks over 24 hours than content posted mid-day during the week and Friday evening, is party time – the optimal time to post on Tumblr.
Pinterest users on the other hand, are apparently on ALL OF THE TIME but even more so on Saturday mornings. This was shared with us at the Mashable Conference by Hillary Mason, Bit.ly’s Chief Science officer. I guess this goes with my theory that pinners have obsessive compulsive tendencies with no social life.
How long do people give a crap?
Bit.ly also took a look at wether links posted on Facebook, for example, last longer than they do on Twitter or other platforms. To work this out they looked at the persistence of a link by calculating what they termed its half life: the amount of time at which a link will receive half of the clicks it will ever receive after it’s reached its peak. They looked at the half life of 1,000 popular bitly links and found similar results.
The mean half life of a link on twitter is 2.8 hours, on facebook it’s 3.2 hours and via ‘direct’ sources (like email or IM clients) it’s 3.4 hours. This means that on average, you get an extra 24 minutes of attention if you post on Facebook than if you post on twitter and even more attention if you just email it. For the seriously needy – youtube is the place to be – with a mean half life for links of 7.4 hours!
The interesting thing is that it seems each platform has its own distinct culture of usage and it may well pay to take this into account when you are imparting your pearls of wisdom onto the ever eager online audience. If no one has liked your facebook post or retweeted you after 3 hours or so – it’s likely they aren’t going to. So maybe you can give them a gentle nudge and re-post or re-tweet every three and a half hours until they do – damn it! Or just go to youtube where you can spend 7 hours waiting for people to lose interest in your content.
If your main target platforms are Twitter and Facebook – it would seem you can take the weekend off – and party on with the crazy Tumblr crew. But not if you have to be up early to catch the pinners on Saturday morning.
Now you know.