What’s the best time of day, day of the week, and month of the year to tweet? ExactTarget has some answers in a new report [download page] based off more than 3.6 million tweets sent through its platform by companies in 15 industries. The analysis looks at post engagement rates (organic and paid) in the aggregate and across various industries, arriving at some interesting conclusions.
Looking first at months of the year, the study reveals that brands tend to send fewer tweets early in the year, with their activities picking up significantly in the second half of the year and peaking in October. There doesn’t seem to be any clear frequency-related trend in terms of average replies per tweet, though, which are highest in May (4.9) and October (4.8). There is slightly more of a correlation with average number of retweets, which tend to be higher in the second half of the year, with the largest figure occurring in December (32.8 average). Follower growth – the companies tracked averaged a 43% increase in follower count throughout the year – might have played a role in the higher average number of retweets occurring in the latter part of the year.
That factor is likely eliminated when analyzing engagement rates by day of the week and by time of day. Interestingly, the study finds that Sundays averaged the fewest number of tweets sent, but the highest number of average replies per tweet (5.9) and retweets (43.9). In fact, the average number of retweets on Sunday was almost double the next-highest day, Saturday (26.7).
Of note, the 3 days with the highest number of average retweets were also the days with the fewest number of tweets sent, suggesting some sort of inverse relationship between sending activity and retweet frequency. (This could be the result of tweets being lost in the stream, as Twitter doesn’t yet filter its stream.)
Turning to engagement rates by time of day (all in CST), the study finds that tweets sent between 12AM and 4AM had the highest average number of replies (5.6) and retweets (34.7). The 4AM-8AM period, while averaging the fewest amounts of tweets sent, had the second-highest average number of retweets (29.7), although it did not fare quite as well on the replies front. In fact, there seemed to be a time-related trend to engagement rates, with both average number of replies and average number of retweets being lowest during the 8AM-12PM range, then gradually increasing until peaking during the 12AM-4AM period.
For similar benchmarks by time of day and day of the week as they pertain to US brands marketing on Instagram, see MarketingCharts’ 19-page primer: “Brand Post Engagement on Instagram.”
Meanwhile, the ExactTarget study also looks at engagement rate trends by industry, with the top days and times summarized below:
Engagement by Day of the Week: Friday for replies (2.4); Wednesday easily for retweets (9.8)
Engagement by Time of Day: 9PM-12AM for replies (2.7) and retweets (12.4)
Media and Entertainment
Engagement by Day of the Week: Sunday for replies (10.3); Saturday for retweets (27)
Engagement by Time of Day: 12AM-4AM for replies (10.6); 4AM-8AM for retweets (29.6)
Engagement by Day of the Week: Monday and Tuesday for replies (1.8); Tuesday easily for retweets (44)
Engagement by Time of Day: 9PM-12AM easily for replies (10.3); 4AM-8AM for retweets (25.9)
Retail and E-Commerce
Engagement by Day of the Week: Thursday easily for replies (4.6); Tuesday for retweets (2.8)
Engagement by Time of Day: 3PM-6PM for replies (3.8) and retweets (14.7)
Education and Non-Profit
Engagement by Day of the Week: Thursday and Saturday for replies (3.1); Friday for retweets (21.8)
Engagement by Time of Day: 4AM-8AM for replies (3.6); 8AM-12PM for retweets (25.5)
Technology and Manufacturing
Engagement by Day of the Week: Wednesday for replies (2.3); Friday for retweets (4.2)
Engagement by Time of Day: 3PM-6PM for replies (2.3); 9PM-12AM for retweets (4.3)
Travel and Hospitality
Engagement by Day of the Week: Sunday for replies (2.1); Thursday for retweets (6.7)
Engagement by Time of Day: 8AM-12PM for replies (2.3); 9PM-12AM for retweets (7)
Overall, retail and e-commerce brands sent the most number of tweets (303k) during the year, followed closely by travel and hospitality (287k) and tech and manufacturing (269k) brands. By comparison, CPG brands (39k) sent very few. The media and entertainment category (199k total tweets sent) boasted both the highest average number of replies (7.7) per tweet and the highest number of average retweets (23.6), while financial services brands had the lowest average number of replies (1.7) and tech and manufacturing the fewest (4) retweets on average.
Finally, the study notes that tweets including photos have higher average numbers of retweet and replies than text tweets across each of the industries analyzed.