When are people most likely to be online?

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Getting your message in front of the right people is a big hurdle. But once you have identified what your message is, and who you should be talking to, it’s useful to know when your audience is online – so you can be sure that you’re posting (or scheduling) your content at the right time.

This has long since been a challenge for marketers – and something that we’ve had tools like Facebook’s post analyser in Insights to give us some guidance. But the studious folks at The Office for National Statistics (ONS) have been compiling data like this and there’s been some chatter about that I think you should know about.

When are people most likely to be online?
Source: ONS

From this, it suggests that day of the week isn’t really a major factor for business marketing (though, this will differ depending on your type of business and therefore your intended audience).

The pattern between days is similar, but on the weekend there isn’t that 6 pm anomaly (perhaps due to commute times explained in the working week numbers). But during that Monday-Friday window? That’s a whole other matter. That appears to have a relatively predictable pattern – and patterns can be helpful to us because if we can predict when someone might be online – we can use that information to provide the right information, at the right time.

There’s a clear peak at 21:00/9 pm where most people tend to be doing the most goofing off valuable research with the lowest point at 4-5 am. This may well match with your own personal internet usage, or it could differ greatly, but for now, while this is far from definitive, but it could be interpreted as a guide as to when the best time to post online might be.

So let’s take a step back here and look at annual tending rather than a 24-hour period, we see some pretty interesting seasonality.

When are people most likely to be online?
Source: ONS

If we consider purely leisure related internet use, the increase in traffic during winter months in this data may be due to reduced outdoor activity which may in turn be influenced by reduced daylight hours. If we consider “work” related internet use, the summer drop in traffic may also be further reduced by summer vacations and perhaps the aggregation of longer lunch time breaks during spells of good weather. In general, this month-by-month pattern is interesting in its own right, as it may be representative of general human seasonal activity.


Stubbings seems to be onto something here. And we need to be thinking about these types of trends when planning our seasonal campaigns. If people are more likely to be ‘offline’ then maybe stepping up your offline marketing at that time is something you should be focusing on.

If habits suggest that people are more likely to be online then you can use that information to help your business reach more of the type of customers you can help.

This is a very small snapshot of the report I read, you can check out the whole enchilada if you’d like to learn more.