How to make your own “Best day to post” Facebook chart

Recently, a number of folks have made a big deal out of yet another “Best day to…” chart, this time about Facebook. As I’ve said in the past, there is no overall best day to do anything. It’s a fiction. There isn’t even a best day by industry – consider that Smallville Credit Union and Golden Slacks Giant Hedge Fund are both in the financial services industry. Can anyone reasonably argue that their social media metrics will look the same or similar enough to be meaningful?

So what should you do, if your CEO is demanding that you only post on Saturdays at 2 PM because that’s when X Magazine that he read on the plane said to? You need to get your game on and your data on yourself. Let’s look at how you’d do that.

First, you need your Facebook data. Get it from the Insights control panel:

(3) Christopher S. Penn

Next, fire up the spreadsheet software of your choice, open the file, and delete any column not labeled daily.

Third, add a column at the beginning called Day of Week. Look in your calendar, append the first two days, and drag down to populate the rest of the column:

Microsoft Excel

Now sort by the Day of Week column, then insert a new line (Oz du Soleil is laughing at me at this point for my lack of Excel skills) and subtotal each day of the week.

Microsoft Excel

Extract just the subtotal rows (I copied them and pasted them as values):

Microsoft Excel

Now make radar charts out of them using the built-in radar chart tool.

Microsoft Excel

Congratulations. Now you have a sexy radar map chart that you can insert into the slideshow of your choice, showing when the best days for YOUR company, YOUR page, YOUR Facebook efforts are for you to be doing things, based on what you’ve already done. This is automatically better than a generic “best day” chart or an industry-standard chart because it’s telling you how YOU are doing.

But here’s the catch. Here’s the giant lurking under the surface of this very pretty chart.

If you are bad at using social media, if you’re creating content that isn’t compelling, if you engage poorly or not at all, then none of this matters. This sort of analysis is valuable only after you’ve already got a content schedule rolling out with consistency and with serious effort and resources behind it.

I saw one chart recently talking about how thousands of top brands are using social media and their best days and times to post. The logical flaw is that top brands aren’t top brands only because of their use of social media. Forbes Magazine rated the top 100 brands in the world. The world’s #1 brand? Apple – a company that is notorious for simply not bothering with social media. If the world’s top brand isn’t good at social, then what makes you think any of the other top brands are doing a good job with social, or that social is contributing to their success?

Measure your own stuff. Implement best practices as a starting point and test, measure, then adjust. Once you’re seeing bottom-line results, only then should you make a pretty chart like the one above.


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  • http://www.DataScopic.net/ Oz

    Brother, I’m not laughing. :-) ‘Preciate you thinking about me. You’re getting the answers out. That’s what’s important.

    You’re teaching me something here and giving me ideas. I have abandoned my fan page because I was running 3 websites. But I wonder about using Google Analytics data in this way to determine the best times/days to post a new blog post … just to see if there’s anything that would confirm or refute my instinct.

    Good post!

  • abelniak

    I did the same exact thing twice where I am…. one as a benchmark, and then again after we tried to shift some activity on higher-performing days to the lower-performing days, Specifically, we looked at not just when we were posting, but when we got the engagement (likes/comments/shares, since that affects EdgeRank, and the visibility of *future* content). If there was a lag between engagement and posting (perhaps a Friday-Monday lag), we tried to post some of that same compelling content from Friday on monday instead. We also sorted out the content that got the best reach, and looked for trends, Was it funny? Instructional? Visual? Etc. If we can isolate a theme, then we can at least try to build on that.

    One question: why did you choose a radar chart, versus a simple day-of-the-week bar chart?

  • http://jonloomer.com/blog Jon Loomer

    Awesome stuff, Chris. I’ve been screaming about this forever. Best time to post is dependent on so many factors. The research that goes out about this is virtually worthless, other than for entertainment value. Love the steps you provide to find this for your own page.

    Thank you, sir!

  • http://womeninbusinessradio.com Michele Price

    Chris I have found when I post has everything to do with those stats and how people interact. For example if I seldom post on Thursday, my stats show Thur is not a prime day for posting. WHY, because I was not there, hence stats show low engagement and views.

    I agree with Abe we need to create our own benchmarks, get out there, then review data, tweak and do it again until you distill that client’s best time to post data.

    Why does that not happen much? Because folks want a lazy easy way for everything jjeeezzz. Love your to the point advice as always.

  • alukeonlife

    This assumes you’re posting the same number of posts every day of the week? Once a day in your example, surely a better analysis would be to create an average for each day of the week instead of a total?

    • http://twitter.com/cinn48 Candice Lepage

      I went with an average for that very reason. Though I am going to try to do a more scheduled bout of posting to test again.

  • http://www.christiankonline.com Christian Karasiewicz

    Chris, I couldn’t agree with you more. I always shake my head and laugh when a “study” comes out recommending an ideal day and time to post updates. It’s subjective and based on your fan base, not what the entre industry is doing, but for some reason people fall into the trap that – if this is what the industry is doing then I guess I should too.

    Thank you for sharing this valuable information.

  • http://twitter.com/cinn48 Candice Lepage

    Thanks for this post! I did an even more rudimentary version of this and found that Thursdays are my most active days, with Wednesdays being the second best. Went through the same process with my post types and find that my text posts get the best engagement, and surprisingly links are second best, not photos like I assumed would be.

  • http://danieljohnsonjr.com/ danieljohnsonjr

    Now we just need to write a macro than can remove what’s unneeded, add the additional column, calculate the subtotal, and update the radar graph…