There’s been a lot of speculation over the years about the best time for brands to post on Facebook. It seems like every other day someone new comes out with a study that disproves the last one.
First it’s, “The weekends are the best time to post!” Then somebody proclaims, “No, weekends are the worst! It’s the weekdays that get marketers the best ROI!” Then it’s, “You’re both wrong! The best time to post depends on the industry you’re in!”
At this point, everybody’s had a chance to weigh in. I’ve even read an article that claims the best time to post could be when your fans aren’t online.
What a lot of marketers aren’t weighing in on, however, is the question of the best time to run Facebook ads.
Today we’re going to change that. The only thing is … you may not like what we have to say.
The answer is: It depends. And here’s why …
The difference between organic posts and paid ads
In a perfect world, all your Facebook fans would see each and every one of your organic posts. They would like your posts, comment on them, and share them so much that your sign-ups and sales would soar through the roof.
Unfortunately, we don’t live in a perfect world; and not all posts are created equal.
Ever since Facebook introduced the news feed in 2009, marketers have been obsessed with trying to outsmart the algorithm responsible for limiting branded content users’ feeds, formerly known as “Edge Rank.”
But there’s a fundamental difference between figuring out the best time to post an organic Facebook update and the best time to run a paid advertisement.
You see, your organic posts can only appear in the news feeds of people who already “like” your page. If someone hasn’t “liked” your page, they won’t see your organic post unless they go searching for it.
Ads are different. They have the potential to be seen by everyone on Facebook — regardless of whether or not those people have “liked” your page.
The people who are seeing your organic posts in their news feed have already subscribed to them — so they expect to see an update from you once in awhile.
In contrast, ads are inherently more intrusive. Marketers have bribed their way into our news feeds, in some cases forcing us to digest content that isn’t relevant to us at all.
And that’s why it’s silly to make decisions about when to run ads based on the best time to post. It’s like comparing apples and oranges. People are more likely to engage with posts because they’ve already consented to see them. Whereas with ads, you never know what you’ll see next in your news feed.
I’m still trying to figure out why on earth someone would serve me, a person with no children, this ad for potty training advice and related products:
The time you run your ad won’t matter if you’re targeting it to the wrong audience.
But if you’ve nailed down your target demographic, and you can’t rely on all the “best time to post” advice, then you’re probably wondering …
How do I determine the best time to run Facebook ads?
To figure out when to run your ads, you need to have a deep understanding of your business, your industry, and your customer.
For instance, if you’re a company that manufactures snowblowers, it probably wouldn’t be smart to run your ads in the summer. That’s just common sense.
But you need to get more analytical than that.
For example, the highest-earning day of the week for online retailers is Monday, while Saturday and Sunday have been the lowest. Consumer spending has also been known to increase in the beginning and middle of the month, because of something called “the paycheck effect.”
Understanding industry statistics like these are valuable, but it’s still not enough. You have to know your business inside and out:
- What days do you get the most sales?
- What time of day do your blog posts get read the most?
- When do you generate the highest number of email sign-ups?
Marketer Claire Pelletreau noticed that the best-selling day for her “Absolute Facebook Ads” guide was Monday. Using Google Analytics, she also found out that she received her most sign-ups at 2 pm.
That’s the kind of detailed analysis you need to be doing. If you’re running an ad to drive clicks to your blog, figure out what times your blog tends to get read. If you’re running an ad to generate sales, find out what day is most profitable to you.
Here’s a great step-by-step explanation of how Claire found out the best time to run ads for her business.
And here’s an example of how you should be using Facebook data to determine the best time to run your ads. Below is a report on some ads I ran for a client with the goal of generating more Facebook fans:
You can see a trend emerging over the span of a few months. The peaks represent the days that page got the most likes, and the valleys represent the days it got the least.
In this particular data set, it’s pretty easy to determine the best-performing days of the week. All the arrows in the image above indicate either a Sunday or a Monday. Why those days produced the highest ROI, I’m not sure, but I do know that many of those peaks occurred at the beginning of the week. Therefore, if I were to continue running this ad set, it would be wise to run it on a set schedule.
Keep in mind, this data is unique to this particular business. To figure out yours, you’ll need to head over to the ads manager and generate some reports.
Get as specific as you can. Break your results down by age, gender, placement, date range, action; and use that data to determine the schedule you should run your ads.
How do I run my ads on a set schedule?
Facebook’s ad creation tool makes it easy to schedule your campaigns. After you’ve determined your campaign objective, you’ll be taken to a page on which you can input your targeting, budget, and schedule:
Instead of clicking “Run ads all the time,” select “Run ads on a schedule.”
When you do that, this box will open up:
Now all you have to do is click inside the boxes that represent the days and hours you want your ads to run.
For this ad set, I’ve specified that I want to run ads at the following times:
- Monday and Tuesday between 9 am and 12 pm
- Wednesday and Thursday between 12 pm and 3 pm
- Friday and Saturday between 3 pm and 6 pm
- Sunday from 6 pm to 9 pm
Keep in mind that if you’re running a national campaign, your ad will be shown to your audience according to their time zone. So on Mondays and Tuesdays, people in San Diego will see the ad between 9 am and 12 pm PST, people in Chicago will see the ad between 9 am and 12 pm CST, and people in New York City will see the ad between 9 am and 12 pm EST. Pretty neat, huh?
From here, it’s just about monitoring, testing, and optimizing.
It’s your turn
How did you determine the best time to run Facebook ads for your business? Did you use any methods we didn’t list? Whenever you decide to run ads, make sure to create a dedicated post-click landing page for your Facebook ad campaigns, and start generating more conversions!