The Best Times For Your Church To Post On Social Media

Brady Shearer
Brady Shearer
Jul 9, 2020
·
6
min read

What is the *best* time to post on social media to get the most likes, views, comments, and shares?

The answer to this question has changed numerous times over the years.

Plus, churches are unique!

Just because something works for a brand or an influencer, doesn’t mean it’ll work for a church.

So let’s dive in and get to the bottom of this.

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Don’t Stress Over Micro-Adjustments

Let’s make this abundantly clear right away:

When it comes to social media posting times, don’t stress over micro differences in timing – for example, the difference in post performance between 10:08 AM vs. 11:38 AM.

Here’s why…

Remember the chronological algorithm? The early days of social?

Years ago, when the chronological algorithm reigned supreme, you’d open your social feeds and see the most recently published posts first.

During this era, timing your social posts to maximize exposure was highly important. Otherwise, you could end up working for hours on social media content, only to hear crickets upon posting because your followers weren’t online at that time.

This algorithm has been replaced though.

And now when you open your social apps, you’re more likely to see relevant posts than recent posts.

When you open your social feeds today, you’re more likely to see relevant posts first than recent posts.

So here’s what this means for you as a social media creator:

Post timing matters considerably less than it used to. Bottom line: If your post is *relevant* to your audience, it will be *seen* by your audience.

The shelf life of an average social post

Here’s the crazy part:

The shelf life of an average social post on platforms like Facebook, Instagram – and even Twitter nowadays – is anywhere from 24-72 hours.

And this is great news because most users of social platforms check-in at least once per day.

So if your post is relevant, the algorithm will ensure that your followers will get a chance to see it – regardless of post timing.

This is because the goal of every social algorithm is to maximize a user’s time spent on the platform.

So if the algorithm identifies a social post from your church that is outperforming similar posts, your post will be given priority in people’s feeds – and your organic reach will increase.

This is also why it’s crucial to follow best practices on social platforms and not simply promote your church’s events and services.

And at the end of the day, post timing won’t matter whatsoever if you’re simply using social to *promote* ministry rather than *do* ministry.

The 1st hour still does matter

Yes. The micro differences in timing aren’t worth stressing over.

However, how your post performs in its first hour after being published does matter.

So it’s still not advisable to post at 3 AM while your online audience is asleep.

Here is a simple experiment you can try:

Spend the next 30 days posting equally during the morning, afternoon, and evening. And see if you can identify any trends in those three groupings.

Perhaps you’ll notice that your church tends to engage better with social posts when they’re published in the evening. Perhaps you’ll find the opposite.

Behavioral data on social is so helpful for us as churches because it reveals the kind of content our congregations prefer – not just what they say they prefer.

And when you’re reviewing your social posts, don’t just look at likes/reactions – but also consider shares, saves, and comments.

The best tool to see when your followers are online

There are a plethora of third-party tools that boast they can reveal to you when your followers are active and online.

Generally, I don’t trust the information from these third-party tools – nor do I use them.

However, when a major social platform provides that data to us, it’s a different story.

Instagram provides this data to us through their Creator Studio. And you can access this free tool by going to business.facebook.com/creatorstudio.

On the Audience page within the Insights tab, you’ll find a section with the title, When Your Followers are on Instagram.

And again, this data is coming directly from Instagram – so it’s certainly worth checking out.

When my Instagram followers are online according to Creator Studio.
When my Instagram followers are online according to Creator Studio

A couple important things to remember about this data:

  • When I grabbed this screenshot, all times were recorded in Pacific Time even though I’m in Eastern Time – so you may have to do some time zone math (I’m not sure why Creator Studio isn’t automatically translating this data yet – I imagine they’ll fix this at some point)
  • Even though these metrics come directly from Facebook/Instagram, they’re still just estimations – so don’t put too much stock into them

So how would I use this data?

Well, generally, I post to my Instagram feed most days around 10 AM Eastern.

But according to this data, that may not be the best time to publish. And perhaps I’d get a boost in engagement if I published in the afternoons or even evenings.

So what I’ll do is begin experiementing with some afternoon posting and evening posting on Instagram to see if that makes any demonstrable difference with post performance.

And that gets back to my earlier recommendation on testing morning, afternoon, and evening and not stressing over the micro-differences.

At the end of the day remember:

The algorithm cares about relevance – not recency. So focus your energy on creating content that drives meaningful engagement and builds relationships.

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How COVID-19 has affected post timing on social media

COVID-19 has dramatically altered our everyday behaviors and routines.

So what does this mean for social media and post timing?

According to Statista, in-home data usage of smartphones rose by 34 percent in March 2020 compared to the same time period in 2019.1

And during a March 2020 survey of social media users in the United States, 43.1 percent of respondents stated that if confined to their homes during the coronavirus, they would use Instagram more during that period.

YouTube and Facebook were also popular social platforms that users were estimating to increase their usage during physical distancing at home.2

Here’s the bottom line:

Increased social media usage means higher degrees of saturation on social platforms. And higher degrees of saturation inevitably leads to lower rates of engagement – unless you find ways to break through the noise.

This is why it’s even more important right now for your church to prioritize post quality over quantity and timing.

And if that means you need to actually post less frequently overall – that’s okay! You have my permission to do so.

Because remember:

The algorithm cares about relevance – not recency.

And at the end of the day, the reason you’re reading this post is that you want higher engagement rates, right?

The key to higher engagement rates is post relevance – not post recency.

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