With lockdown measures, remote classes, and physical gathering restrictions, students turned to social media like never before to stay connected.
And this trend isn’t changing, even as most universities and colleges have already returned to in-person classes.
This gives higher education institutions and marketers an enormous opportunity to reach students and potential students in unprecedented numbers.
Unlike “typical” 9-to-5 office work, where the demographic is somewhat static and easier to predict, higher education poses an extra layer of complexity.
Students have widely different class and exam schedules, extracurricular activities, and part-time jobs throughout the day.
Special school events—university job fairs, emergency announcements, graduation news, holiday parties, campus tours, and open houses—will require increased social media posting and engagement.
Understanding when and how students engage and consume content on a regular daily basis (through various social media platforms) is key to reaching your target audience.
There’s no silver bullet
This post is a 2023 update of our blog post of 2019, and the following results were compiled by Sprout Social, who worked with their data science team to gather and analyze information from their customers.
Other organizations or publications conducting similar studies may have different research methodologies and metrics, resulting in different “best times”.
Figuring out the best time to post depends on your understanding of how current and potential students engage and consume content across multiple platforms. But this won’t happen overnight.
So while these “best times” results can be a useful guideline, there’s no silver bullet.
With careful study of usage and engagement, clear patterns will emerge, allowing you to develop a concrete social media strategy.
Best times to post on social media in general
Higher education professionals can connect with large portions of their audience with relative ease. But there are many factors to take into account in determining optimal engagement times.
Sprout Social research indicates that the highest engagement times across most social media platforms were Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays at 9 a.m. or 10 a.m.
However, to maximize engagement, you need to consider the specific platform and audience.
|Best times:||Tuesdays through Thursdays at 9 a.m. or 10 a.m.|
|Best days:||Tuesdays through Thursdays|
Best times to post on Facebook
Although Facebook is no longer the social media platform of choice for Gen Z university students, it remains the most used platform by marketers worldwide across all industries. But more importantly, it’s also still a popular tool for Gen X and millennial parents (as well as students).
There was, however, a shift in peak engagement times for Facebook in 2022.
Mid-mornings used to be the most popular in the past. Now, very early mornings to mid-morning showed the highest concentration of engagement for higher education.
|Best days:||Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Fridays|
|Worst days:||Thursdays, Saturdays, and Sundays|
Best times to post on Instagram
Instagram usage grew steadily throughout the pandemic, reaching two billion monthly users as of early 2022.
Although it’s facing very stiff competition from the short-form video juggernaut TikTok, Instagram isn’t going anywhere.
Last year, Fridays dominated with the highest engagement numbers. This has now shifted to Tuesdays, starting at 10 a.m.
|Best time:||Tuesdays at 10 a.m.|
|Best days:||Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Fridays|
Best times to post on TikTok
There’s no denying it: TikTok has become a social media behemoth and will likely continue to grow, despite a small but increasing number of universities and colleges banning the social platform following US government concern over the China-owned app.
In only a short time, TikTok has gained more than one billion users and given rise to the TikTok influencer.
This is the first time Sprout Social analyzed “best time” statistics for TikTok, seeing as how it’s relatively new compared to other social media platforms.
In addition to peak engagement times below, Sprout Social notes that, generally, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Tuesdays through Fridays see the highest engagement on TikTok.
Wednesdays and Thursdays
Best times to post on Twitter
Unlike the ebbs and flows of many social media platforms, the popularity of Twitter has remained relatively constant (not taking into account the most recent developments).
But higher education saw a surprising new day for engagement compared to previous years.
While Mondays continue to see peak engagement, Sunday evenings (beginning at 4 a.m. onward) have emerged as a new opportunity for engagement—likely in anticipation of the upcoming week.
Mondays at 6 p.m. and 7 p.m.
Mondays, Tuesdays, and Sundays
|Worst days:||Thursdays and Saturdays|
Best times to post on LinkedIn
Although catering primarily to professionals already in the workforce (with peak engagement times corresponding to the workweek), it would be a mistake to assume that students will only visit LinkedIn after they achieve their degree and begin their career.
Many universities have active LinkedIn profiles to connect with current students and alumni.
Tuesdays 10 a.m. to noon
Wednesdays and Thursdays
|Worst days:||Saturdays and Sundays|
When do you see the most student engagement on your various social media platforms?
We'd love to hear about it in the comments below or on our social media channels.