Facebook Strategy – When to Post

One of my official work goals this year is develop a communication strategy. One part of that which I’m particularly interested in is Facebook strategy, and something I’ve seen mentioned many times is to be intentional about not just what you post, but when you post it.

I’ve finally found a place today where I feel enough breathing room to return to this blog post on exploring the timing of Facebook posts from “Gilligan on Data” that I must have bookmarked back in February. I don’t remember where I came across the link, Remember the Milk tells me I’ve postponed looking at it 56 times though 🙂

I exported my data as far back as I could go for the Zion Lutheran Church page (July 2011), which had to be done in several batches (there is a maximum of 180 days). I ended up with data for 813 posts, which I pasted into one spreadsheet.

As mentioned in the comments of the original post, the data columns tend not to match the template provided. I rearranged and added blank columns where needed into my data to make it match the template. I also had to add some blank columns in the template. Then I pasted the data as instructed into cell A8 in sheet 2.

That’s where it stopped working for me (I’m assuming because I have Excel 2003), and here’s how I proceeded:

  1. I sorted the data by Day of Week and edited the fields to make it sort in chronological order (1-SUN, 2-MON, 3-TUE, etc.)
  2. I did the same thing with Time of Day (1-Midnight to 6:00 AM, 2-6:00 AM to 9:00 AM, etc.)
  3. I sorted by Day of Week and Time of Day
  4. I subtotaled by change in Time of Day with averages for Total Reach and Engagement Rate and a count
  5. I manually transferred the counts and averages into sheet 3 (I also had to change the cell formatting from Custom to General to make the numbers show up)
  6. My own data had very few posts in the midnight-6am or 9pm-midnight time slots, and those that were there were frequently far higher or lower, so I grayed those out
  7. I averaged each week day (6am-9pm time slots) and each time period in each table, and graphed them
  8. I manually colored the Post Reach and Post Engagement boxes. Since I had no idea what the original scale was I used the following:
    1. Pink = below average for both the day and the time of day
    2. Green = above average for both the day and the time of day
    3. White = above average for one and below average for the other

Here’s what it looked like:

day and timeWhile I was playing with the data, I pulled out the 50ish worst and best posts (based on having the relatively lowest or highest reach and engagement).

  • I know that using photos is generally considered a good tactic, and every one of my best 50ish posts were photos. The majority were either albums of photos from events, or behind-the-scenes photos of staff, volunteers, and facilities projects.
  • Only two of the 50ish worst posts were photos. The majority were basic status updates, links, and videos.

best and worst

I also ran some subtotals by month so I could graph reach and engagement over time. I don’t think I learned a lot from this. Reach generally trended upwards (although it took a dip last fall / winter), and engagement is all over the place.

My new goals after this process:

  • Try some posts in the earliest and latest time slots which I haven’t used much
  • Be intentional about using the time slots that were above average for both the day and the time in both graphs
  • Keep posting photos, especially sets of photos soon after events, and behind-the-scenes photos of staff, volunteers, and facilities projects
  • Avoid links, unless they are attached to a photo
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