A lot of social media managers subscribe to a hard and fast rule. And a lot of social media managers don't subscribe to it. The rule is this: no brand shall ever post more than two times per day to Facebook.
What’s happening here? How are you supposed to decide how frequently to post, or be confident that your marketing consultant is boosting your brand with your Facebook strategy?
When you post just twice a day, are you leaving attention on the table? Are you ceding your audience to the other brands you're competing with for time and attention?
When you post more frequently, are you risking annoying your people and actually losing followers rather than growing your brand’s reach?
And...does how frequently you post to Facebook even matter anymore?
What do experts say about posting to Facebook?
Basically, there’s no agreement. Here’s a quick survey of what the big names in social media recommend.
CoSchedule suggests one Facebook post per day
IBM suggests more than two Facebook posts per day if you want to grow your base
HubSpot suggests follower count impacts ideal Facebook post frequency
ConstantContact recommends 1-2 Facebook posts per day
Buffer says 2 Facebook posts per day, seven days a week, 10:08 a.m. and 3:04 p.m. (or 5-10 posts per week)
Neil Patel says that, to maximize your website traffic (if you have fewer than 10K Facebook followers), post 1-5 times per month
Unpacking the “two posts per day” Facebook rule
So where did this rule come from? And why are people following it?
Well, it all started a long time ago. When two researchers, Track Social and SocialBakers, found that when brands posted more than twice a day on Facebook, there was a steep drop-off in the engagement (likes, clicks, shares) per post. But do you know how old that research is? 2012 and 2011, respectively. Do you know how much has changed about Facebook since that research came out? Pretty much everything.
When HubSpot studied how frequency of posts impacts clicks per post (in 2016), they found that the more followers a page has, the more clicks per post they get (not surprising, right?)
Pages with more than 10k followers often saw increased clicks per post when they increased the frequency of their posts. And they were the only ones who saw that increase.
For pages with fewer than 10k followers, the more frequent the posts, the fewer the clicks per post.
For pages with fewer than 10k followers, the most clicks per post occurred when they posted just 1-5 times per month. There was a slight drop-off at 6-15 posts per month, and then it dropped off steadily at 16+ posts per month.
Bottom line? As IBM notes in reviewing the HubSpot research, that “two posts a day” rule for Facebook may actually be too frequent, depending on your goals. Posting more than twice a day (if you have fewer than 10K followers) can result in about 50% fewer clicks per post. However, this infrequency can result in decreased engagement per post.
So...before you decide what frequency fits your brand, you have to answer this question: Why are you on Facebook? To drive traffic to your website? To engage with your people? A little of column A, a little of column B?
How frequently you should post to Facebook depends on your industry.
The HubSpot social media research results vary significantly by industry (and many people ignore this when they site it as support of the two-a-day rule).
For one industry, those who post the most get the most engagement. For others, the complete opposite is true. HubSpot's advice:
“One well-timed, high-quality post per week (or every 2 weeks) might stand a better chance of cutting through noise than posting to Facebook, let’s say, 14 times per week...At the end of the day, different audiences respond in different ways. What works for one industry or company size might not work for another.”
Here’s what HubSpot’s industry-specific data found re highest interaction vs. frequency:
The biggest outliers for the power of frequency: 10+ posts per week bring the highest engagement
These brands are the biggest outliers for overall engagement. For these pages, 1-3 posts/week achieves average of 73 interactions per post (compare that to an average of 4 interactions for real estate posts); 10+ posts per week achieves average of 47 interactions per post; <1 and 1-3 are about the same at 16/post and 9/post.
Slight outliers, likely because their audiences are more interested in what brands are doing on social. For these folks, 3-10 posts/week achieves .5% higher interaction than <1 or 1-3, and twice as high as 10+ posts per week.
Somewhat surprisingly, these brands see the highest engagement with 3-10 posts/week, and the next highest with <1 post per week. 1-3 or 10+ bring a dramatic dropoff.
Industries who should post <1 or 1-3 times a week:
For Real Estate, Software/Tech, and Business/Financial Services, and Hardware, posting <1 time per week brings the highest per-post interaction. For Healthcare brands, the sweet spot for engagement is 1-3 posts per week.
The more followers you have, the more interactions you get per post...but you’ll hit your peak post eventually.
HubSpot's Facebook benchmarking shows that the brands with the most followers benefit the most from the most frequent Facebook posts. And the brands with the fewest followers experience the biggest drop-off in per-post engagement the more frequently they post to their Facebook pages.
Still...even for brands with 10K+ followers, there’s a peak post limit. Beyond 61 posts per month, they saw no increase in per-post engagement. But they saw significant increases in per-post engagement when when they posted 31-60 times/month vs. 1-5 times/month.
Facebook marketing is no longer so much about quantity. It’s about quality. And algorithms. And money.
In the race for attention, brands have been posting as frequently as they can (and many still do), to be sure to land in their followers’ feeds and get interaction. In response, Facebook is constantly changing its algorithms. These algorithms are supposedly giving people the best possible experience on Facebook, by controlling what you see.
The Facebook algorithm is always changing. And it’s complicated. As much as four years ago, there were 100,000 factors involved in what you see in your facebook feed. Yes, you read that right.
For example, the algorithm is how Facebook prioritizes posts from friends and family above brands. And it's why only a tiny fraction (sometimes as low as 2%) of your brand's followers will actually see what you’re posting.
The alternative to organic reach? You guessed it...paid reach.
Facebook’s answer to organic reach basically disappearing...you can pay to boost your posts. Target your posts to the people most likely to interact with them. In fact, one savvy marketer put two-and-two together in this graphic pairing the declining Facebook reach with the rising Facebook stock price.
So, engagement and followers and reach and all that good stuff is no longer so much about how frequently you post to Facebook. You can't just focus on that question.
How do you ensure your Facebook posts get seen? It's about more than frequency.
As we’ve seen, how frequently you post to Facebook is only one small part of the story now. Here are the things to know now:
Videos are everything.
Live videos, videos with higher watch and completion rates, and videos that are clicked on or unmuted, all get higher ranking in the news feed.
Pay to play.
You’re going to have to invest at least something in advertising, or boosting, posts, to be sure they’re seen by the people you want to engage.
Target your posts.
You don’t have to pay to target your posts. So, think about who you’re trying to reach and what they’re interested in. Then create posts that fit what they’re into, and target them using Facebook’s targeting tools. So...if your people seem to not engage with photos or videos, don’t post them, even if marketing experts like me say you should because Facebook prioritizes them.
The more you know…
Educate your people about how they can control their Facebook feeds. Tell them how to update their notification settings from your Page to be sure they never miss a post. And remind them to like and share your stuff (the more they engage with your stuff, the more the Facebook algorithm will let them see your stuff).