A Study Shows the Best Times of Day to Post to Social Media

September 2018 | Sridhar, Shrihari

Content platforms (e.g., newspapers, magazines) post several stories daily on their dedicated social media pages and promote some of them using targeted content advertising (TCA). Posting stories enables content platforms to grow their social media audiences and generate digital advertising revenue from the impressions channeled through social media posts’ link clicks. However, optimal scheduling of social media posts and TCA is formidable, requiring content platforms to determine what to post; when to post; and whether, when, and how much to spend on TCA to maximize profits. Social media managers lament this complexity, and academic literature offers little guidance. Consequently, the authors draw from literature on circadian rhythms in information processing capabilities to build a novel theoretical framework on social media content scheduling and explain how scheduling attributes (i.e., time of day, content type, and TCA) affect the link clicks metric. They test their hypotheses using a model estimated on 366 days of Facebook post data from a top 50 U.S. newspaper. Subsequently, they build an algorithm that allows social media managers to optimally plan social media content schedules and maximize gross profits. Applying the algorithm to a holdout sample, the authors demonstrate a potential increase in gross profits by at least 8%.



  • Vamsi Kanuri
  • Yixing Chen


Harvard Business Review

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