Savvy social media: time well spent


Social media is a powerful and versatile tool for charities.

Although social media platforms are free to use and there are many 'freemium' scheduling tools to be had, it can be costly when it comes to investing your time.

As Salford CVS's 'official' tweeter and unoffical Instagram addict, I thought it would be helpful to share some tips for getting the most out of the time you spend posting and engaging on social media. This blog covers how you can go about finding the best times to post and the optimal frequency for posting.

When should you post?

Think about your audience

In the same way you wouldn’t put on an event at a time when none of your users could attend, when scheduling posts think about your audience's lives and time commitments. Ask yourself; are there any patterns in their day or week? Any times to avoid? This might not be something you can apply to the whole of your audience, but it can help inform decisions about what times to post.

For example, the majority of the voluntary, community and social enterprise sector in Salford is made up of micro organisations, powered by volunteers. Often volunteers give their time in outside of 'regular' office hours, in the evenings and weekends. Because of this we make sure we schedule some evening and weekend posts across our social media each week, especially for our Facebook page.

Tools to give your insight

There a range of free, 'freemium' (basic or limited features at no cost) and premium tools you can use the get some insight into when your followers are online. I've summarised some of the main tools below:

Insight tool type


In a nutshell

Built in analytics

Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Linked In have analytics built in to the platforms.

All of the built in analytics can tell you how well your posts perform in terms of reach and engagement. Some basic audience data such as gender, interests and location is also available on many of the platforms.

Most charities and community groups should be able to get enough information from in built analytics tools to be able to make some informed decisions about the best time to post. For example, to work out which times your posts get the most impressions or likes.

Top tip: Facebook's posts insight will tell you the days and times that your fans are online but it is important to check your timezone!*

Third Party analytic tools

You can use the freemium version of Followerwonk to analyse your twitter followers. This will give you an hourly breakdown of when your audience is online and help you to schedule your tweets accordingly.

Freemium and pro analytics tools are available for most social media platforms e.g. Buffer, Hootsuite, Hubspot. View a breakdown of platforms from Charity Digital here and NAVCA here.

Third party apps, such as social media managers, can integrate your social media scheduling and analytics. This means that any insights from your posts can be directly applied to your schedule, for example, by suggesting the best times for you to post.

Social media managers can also generate powerful insight reports and often have user friendly dashboards.

Surveys and feedback

Don't forget about what you already have, for example your website, feedback forms and survey tools like Survey Monkey.

Using these tools to capture information from your audience about when they like to hear from you and where will give you rich information into when they are online.

*By default Facebook records data in the Pacific time zone, when analysing when your followers are online be sure to convert to Grenwich Mean Time (GMT) or British Summer Time (BST) as appropriate.

How often to post?

Rule of thumb

This table summarises the findings and recommendations from a range of national and international social media giants, including the likes of Hootsuite, Buffer and Hubspot as well as sector-specific guides. These frequencies should be viewed as a rule of thumb and can be used a basis of a communications plan but it is important to adapt to your own audience based on how your posts perform:

Social media platform

Recommended frequency

In a nutshell

Minimum of three tweets per day, aim for five tweets if you can.
Twitter is fast paced - you need to post frequently and multiple times per day to be seen.

Post once per day or five – 10 times per week. Posting more than twice a day isn't recommended generally.

Facebook is like an online community. You don't need to post more than once per day and sharing the same post in different groups is a good way to reach more people.

Post once per day – no more than three grid posts per day.

Instagram is all about quality over quantity - only post when you have a good photo to share or a nice graphic. Posting more frequently on Instagram is likely to lose you followers so try using the stories feature if you have a lot to share.
Linked In Five posts per week works well for most. Recently, there have been some good arguements put forward for posting once per day if you have capacity.  

Consistency is key

Regardless of how frequently you post - the key is to be consistent. On most platforms posting about once per day is better than posting nothing Monday - Thursday and then posting four or five times on Friday. Long periods between your posts can make your social media appear inactive and may lose you followers. Even if you only have limited time to post in the week, social media management tools can help you to create a balanced and consistent schedule.

You may also want to consider how many platforms you are managing - rather than spreading yourself too thinly across lots of different platforms try posting optimally on one or two.

And, remember, if you can't post something informative or engaging it is better not to post at all!

Further reading

This blog from Hootsuite breaks down whether 'to post or not to post'.

Charity Digital have summarised the best social media management platforms for charities.

NAVCA have a handy guide to scheduling platforms with a free plan (as well as freemium and premium versions).

Salford CVS
Becky Roberts, Information and Communications Coordinator

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Tel: 0161 787 7795 


Salford CVS is the city-wide infrastructure organisation for the voluntary, community and social enterprise sector; providing specialist information, advice, development support and opportunities for influence and collaboration.

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