Have you ever heard the saying, “If you fail to plan, you’re planning to fail”? This famous Benjamin Franklin quote applies to all facets of life, including social media marketing.
You can have the most sophisticated social media strategy, but if you don’t post your content when your target audience can see it, all your marketing efforts will be a waste of time.
That’s why you need a social media posting schedule—it will ensure that you’re consistently posting your social content when your audience is online.
It will also help you:
- Increase the quality of your content
- Save time
- Boost audience engagement
- Make team collaboration easier
- Run experiments to maximize ROI
Here’s all you need to map out the best social media posting schedule for your brand.
A social media posting schedule is the framework that keeps you organized when publishing social media content. It ensures that you create content in advance for your social media marketing campaigns and post that content consistently.
But there’s no “one size fits all” posting schedule. The right timing and frequency of your social media posts depends on your audience, industry, and the social platform you choose.
To help you figure out the best times to post on social media, we have broken down the process into five steps.
This is the first—and most important—step. To ensure that your social media schedule will work for your business, you need to know:
- Who your target audience is
- The times of day they are online
- The social platforms they hang out on. For instance, do they start their mornings by watching YouTube videos and end their day scrolling mindlessly through Instagram posts? (I mean, we all do it, right?)
When you know your audience, you’ll be able to deliver relevant and helpful content to them at the right date and time, through the right medium.
If your audience is in a different timezone than you, don’t worry. Later in this article, we’ll cover the best social media scheduling tools that will automatically post your content at the best times.
Many social media content creators are so quick to blame “the algorithm” when their content doesn’t perform well. Sometimes, they’re right.
As much as some content flops because it’s terrible, algorithms play a vital role in whether your audience sees your content or not. Each social platform has its own algorithm—a system that helps it understand what sort of content its users want to see, and then delivers that content to their feeds.
One of the factors that algorithms use to analyze and distribute your content is how often you post. In June 2021, Instagram’s CEO, Adam Mosseri, confirmed that posting two posts a week and two Stories per day is a great way to succeed on the platform.
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TikTok recommends posting at least once a day and up to four times daily for best results. Now, once a day might not sound like much until you realize that you’ll basically have to conceptualize, write the script, shoot and edit each video. Every. Single. Day.
To know more about algorithms, check out these detailed posts written by our friends over at Hootsuite:
- Facebook algorithm guide
- Twitter algorithm guide
- Instagram algorithm guide
- TikTok algorithm guide
- LinkedIn algorithm guide
- YouTube algorithm guide
Apart from your regular content mix, plan your big announcements, seasonal campaigns and product launches ahead of time.
To keep your processes organized, craft a high-level social media content calendar. This calendar will be a major part of your social media content strategy and will ensure that you do everything on time without a last-minute scramble.
It’s your guide for what to post and when to post it, and it could be as simple as a to-do list. Something like this:
- Draft copy for Black Friday/Cyber Monday posts
- 4 text posts
- 6 graphic ads
- 2 video ads
- Make visual assets for Black Friday/Cyber Monday campaign
- Get approval by Oct. 14th
- Schedule and promote Black Friday/Cyber Monday posts
If you’d prefer to use a digital tool to plan campaigns, Hootsuite’s your best bet. Here’s a video that shows you how it works:
So, let me just spill the beans: Right after this section, we’ve provided a cheat sheet as to the overall best time to post on social media. Y’know, because we’re nice people and we want to help you succeed.
There are also some “hot” times to post detailed in this article.
But… even if you use these times and it’s working well for you, you still need to run experiments. That’s why we emphasized on knowing the times your audience is online. You can post during the recommended times in this piece (and thousands of other sources), but that doesn’t mean it’s the best schedule for your business.
Imagine you’re pulling in an average organic post reach of 8% when you post at those times. That’s okay, right? But what if 10% of your audience could be seeing your content? Or 12%? Or even 15%?
Following the same social media posting schedule month after month and year after year, can stunt your growth. But this doesn’t mean that you should just switch things up whenever you feel like it. Instead, make the decision to try something different after you’ve run some experiments.
Run one experiment each month. Change one of your normal posting times or days to a new one for a month and see which time performs better.
Small changes like these can yield big results in the long run.
If you’re looking for a straightforward answer — here it comes.
Based on extensive research into audiences and social media algorithms, we’ve found that the best time to post on social media overall is 10:00 AM on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays.
Now, is that when your target audience is online? That’s something you have to figure out because every audience is unique.
Posting content at these times is a great start, but it should be accompanied by audience research and study of your analytics. This will allow you to figure out a posting schedule that is tailored specifically to your business and your audience.
At this point, you know the kind of content you want to post and how to find the best times to post on social media. Now, you might be wondering how you can pull it all together.
That’s why we’re sharing this free social media posting schedule template. It was created for Google Sheets so you can easily edit it at any time and collaborate with your team effortlessly.
Here’s how to use it:
When you download the template, it’s going to open as a read-only Google Sheet. So you need to make a copy before you can use it.
There’s a tutorial on how to do this on the first tab, so check it out. You can delete that tab from your copy later.
The posting schedule template shows only one week of content planning for the major social platforms—Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn
If you don’t post on all the social platforms listed, delete rows. If you post on social networks that are not in the template, add rows. If you don’t want to post every day, edit the schedule. The template is highly customizable.
After you’ve edited the template to contain content for your social media platforms, posting frequency and times, copy and paste the rows so that you can plan one month’s worth of content.
Then, duplicate the entire tab 11 times to make your social media content planner for the whole year. Isn’t that cool?
To duplicate the tab, right-click on the tab’s name at the bottom of your screen and click Duplicate.
Now, you can start actually creating your content.
While we do advise that you plan your content weeks, or — in some cases — even months in advance, you have to start somewhere. If you don’t have a content production process in place yet, you can plan content one week ahead of time. No pressure.
The posting schedule template suggests types of content to post, from your latest blog post to a short video. If you don’t want to post these, you can modify the content categories to be what you want to post about.
Then, you can start posting.
These are just the basics to plan your social media content, but this template can do way more than that. Check out our in-depth guide on building a social media calendar for more tips on how to use this template.
The best way to schedule your social media posts in advance is using a social media management tool like Hootsuite. With Hootsuite, you can schedule your posts in two ways:
- Bulk upload
With the Hootsuite Planner, you can schedule individual posts for all your social media accounts. You can program it to post to just one account or to multiple accounts, depending on your needs. You can also edit your content to look the way you want on each platform.
You can schedule and automatically post these content formats with Hootsuite:
- Facebook feed posts
- Instagram feed posts
- Instagram Stories
- Pinterest Pins
- LinkedIn posts
- YouTube videos
With Hootsuite, you can also save time by scheduling up to 350 posts all at once. Here’s a video that explains how Hootsuite’s Bulk Composer works:
While bulk scheduling is convenient, there are a few best practices for each platform you should know to maximize your reach. Learn more about them here.
In Hootsuite Planner, you can view and edit your scheduled posts. Here’s a short video showing you how to use the tool:
Hootsuite has a Best Time to Publish feature right under Analytics that evaluates your past performance to show you the best times to post on each of your social media platforms.
But because there’s no “best” time to publish for everything, this tool goes the extra mile to break down different suggested times for three major goals:
- Building awareness
- Increasing engagement
- Driving traffic
This allows you to schedule each piece of content based on your business goals and optimize your publishing schedule for maximum ROI.
The Best Time to Publish feature is available for Hootsuite Team accounts and higher.
Hootsuite Social Advertising allows you to manage your paid content alongside your organic content. Apart from saving time for scheduling, this feature provides unified analytics and ROI reporting so you can see your ad performance.
When you know the results of your paid social media campaigns and organic content, you can make data-backed decisions and edits to active campaigns.
This video gives more information on how to optimize your social media ads with Hootsuite Social Advertising: