When I was in Grad School at Wilfred Laurier University, which really wasn’t all that long ago (I’m the consummate definition of “late bloomer”), two of my favourite courses were Advanced Behavioural Statistics I and II. These graduate level courses are designed to apply advanced statistical procedures to social science research data. Enjoying these courses surprised me the most considering I remember (vividly and nightmarishly) being challenged with math since Grade 1. To this day, I have this horrific visual image in my pea-sized brain of coming home with a math sheet and seeing “11X” (11 wrong out of 20) at the top of the page. Sigh. When I graduated from high school my mother could be heard saying, “If you took an x-ray of my heart it would be broken in two trying to keep you in school.” I think I threatened to quit school at least once a month mostly due to my hatred and struggles with numbers.
Once I made the decision that I wanted to spend my professional life in pursuit of helping people through research, it meant that I had no choice but to embrace data collection and analysis. If you work in any area of online marketing or social media, no doubt you have had to give measurement and analytics a few hugs yourself. This brings me to one of the agonizing truths of social media data: very few people know what the hell is what, and which tools we should use to collect and analyze one of our clients most valuable assets…… data.
If you’re anything like me, you have perused the interwebs for white papers, black papers, reports, blog posts, whatever you can get your hands on that will explain which is the best tool for analyzing Facebook post-level data. Have you seen the Infographic of Best and Worst Times to Post on Social Media? Considering how mysterious Facebook’s algorithm is (and how ever-changing), you can’t depend on the times listed in this Infographic. May be relevant today, is obsolete next week. Of course you can use the Insights tool built into your Facebook business page BUT if you post once a day, in a one-month period you have to scroll through analytics for 30 individual posts. And, look at the ugly graph that Facebook generates. Ugh. I have found a tool that is completely practical and easy-to-use that I have now incorporated into the Facebook analysis I conduct for all of my social media marketing clients. I feel confident that after this blog post you will at least want to try it!
Tim Wilson is a partner at Web Analytics Demystified (cool name for a group of nerds) and he has been working in digital analytics for over 12 years. I have to tell you, Tim is one of the most helpful people I’ve ever met online. Back in 2012 Tim developed an Excel worksheet that takes post-level data you can easily export from your Facebook Insights, which then provides a visual method of determining and exploring the optimal “times of day” (for particular days) for Facebook posts. As Tim explains in his blog post, this Excel spreadsheet performs these 3 basic but important functions:
- When (weekday and time of day) a page posts
- Which of those time slots appear to generate the highest organic reach for post
- Which of those time slots appear to generate the highest engagement (engaged users / post reach) for posts
In helping Tim to upgrade this tool so that it works with the current Insights format, I repeated the process for obtaining and generating best “time of day” results for Facebook business page posts 7 or 8 times. Let me tell you something – this is the best 2 minutes and 23 seconds you will ever spend making sense of Facebook data. Here are the steps you have to perform (anybody with administrative access/rights to a FB page can do this!) to find out the best times of day to post to your Facebook business page:
- Download the Excel file to your computer here
- From your Facebook business page click on the Insights tab
- Click the Export tab at the top right of the page. It will automatically download to your computer (most likely to your “downloads” folder). The filename is “Facebook_Post_Analysis-2.xlsx.”
- A pop-up window will appear and you must make the following choices: For Data Type choose Post Data. Facebook will automatically generate insights for the past 30 days. If you want data for a specific period (e.g. July 1 to July 31), simply click the dropdown menu for Date Range and manually choose the dates. For File Format choose Excel (.xls) and do notcheck the box that says “Export data using the old template.”
- Open the downloaded file (it will have the name “Facebook Insights Data Export – (Post Level) – Your Business Name – Date Range You Specified.”
- Copy all of the data from this Excel file downloaded from Facebook and paste it into the Post Details tab of the Facebook Post Analysis workbook.
- Go to the top of the Excel worksheet and click Data, then Refresh All. Wa-la – you are finished!
When you scroll across to the Results in the Excel file you will see charts that give you: Post Count; Average Organic Post Reach; and Average Post Engagement. It’s all fairly self-explanatory from here! Now you can see which of your posts organically had the best performance by day of the week for particular time ranges (e.g. 9:00 AM to 12:00 PM).
Give this a try and let us know if you found it helpful. Tim and I would love a shout out on Twitter. Tim is @tgwilson and I am @InspiredAnnette. I have used Tim’s Excel tool many times – if you have any questions by all means email me.