When you launch a YouTube channel, every decision you make has an impact on your channel’s performance. Even small things like deciding when to publish your content can dramatically affect your video’s visibility and chances of success. What’s the best time to post video on YouTube? The best time to post video on YouTube depends on your audience and the nature of your content. AgencyHub can help you dial in your YouTube publishing.
What’s the Best Time to Post Video on YouTube?
Although YouTube staunchly claims that they treat all videos equally regardless of what time they’re posted, it truly does matter. Even if we take YouTube at its word, the global YouTube audience interacts with the platform depending on the moment. Not only do you have to consider the time of day that your video goes live, but you also have to think about the day of the week.
This is why it’s important to understand your audience in order to choose the best time to post video on YouTube. Who are your viewers? If you target a North American audience, posting at 3 AM Eastern would probably not be effective. However, if your audience is predominantly in Europe, that might be the best time. You need to put careful thought into your posting schedule because your goal is to trigger the algorithm and boost your video’s clicks and watch time.
How the YouTube Algorithm Works
Although the exact machinations of the YouTube algorithm are a trade secret, the main drivers have been dissected and are now well understood. Two variables drive video performance more than any other: Click-through rate (CTR) and watch time. The higher these numbers go, the more likely the algorithm is to serve your video up for other viewers. Nevertheless, both of these variables must move in unison for a video to go viral.
If you have an amazing thumbnail and title, you might get a great CTR. However, if these viewers don’t watch at least 40-50% of the video, the algorithm is unlikely to promote the content. YouTube’s algorithm strongly favors videos that can garner at least 5 minutes of watch time per click, and it is more likely to share a video with viewers with a CTR above 5%. The higher you can get those numbers, the more views you’ll get.
The Window of Opportunity
If a video doesn’t perform well for a while, YouTube eventually forgets about it. Every creator has a video that didn’t perform well and then dropped off the face of the earth. With every video, there’s a rolling window of opportunity where the algorithm will keep an eye on the video and promote it according to its performance. However, if the video is dead on arrival, the algorithm is unlikely to ever pick it back up unless something unusual happens.
This is why it’s vital to nail the perfect time to publish your videos. If you make long-form content in the 20+ minute range, you shouldn’t publish when people are likely to be too busy to watch your video. Your CTR will be low because people won’t click on something they don’t have the time for. Those that do click will probably leave earlier than usual because they’re busy. The algorithm will see these signals and recommend the video less.
Choosing the Perfect Time
Think about the content you create. When would you be most likely to click on it? Short-form content can succeed at various times of day as people can squeeze in short videos whether they’re in the bathroom or sitting in traffic. Longer videos perform well at night, much like your favorite TV series. If your videos are reactions or summaries of recent events, like a sports-team-themed channel, the closer you can publish your videos to the actual event, the better.
However, you cannot simply upload your file a few minutes before it’s time to go live. YouTube has to perform several checks before it can comfortably recommend a video, even if your subscribers have the bell icon turned on for your channel. Always try to upload your content a day before so that you allow for parsing and processing to occur on the backend.
Parsing and Processing
When you upload a video, YouTube’s data servers perform several checks to determine whether the video is ready to be shown to the world. First, there’s the upload itself, which can take as little as a few minutes to several hours depending on the length of the video, its quality, and your internet upload speed. From there, YouTube converts the video to lower resolutions using compression. Next, voice recognition and image recognition software scan your file for potential violations.
YouTube looks for things like violent or sexual content, excessive profanity, and even controversial topics when deciding whether a video is safe for recommendations. Some videos can be completely censored or age-restricted. The algorithm will not promote content until it’s sure that it is safe to do so. Furthermore, it also looks for copyright violations. Finally, if everything is all right, the algorithm starts matching search terms to your title, description, and tags. All of this can take several hours.
Know Your Audience
Now you need to go deeper. When does your audience, specifically, have time to watch your videos? Who are you trying to target with your channel? If your content is aimed at high schoolers, aim for early morning or right after school.
Consider the day of the week, also. A channel that has a predominantly Jewish audience would probably do well to avoid publishing videos on Saturdays. NFL fans want to watch football on Sunday, not your videos. Save them for Monday or Tuesday after the action is over and people are eager for more. As you gain viewership, YouTube will tell you when your audience is most active on the platform.
Track Your Data
Once YouTube starts to serve you more data about your audience, use it to your advantage. Your audience may not be the one that you intended to target. Adjust your posting schedules accordingly. If you find that more of your viewers are online on another day of the week, publish on that day. If you suddenly gain a large audience in another country, think about times that could accommodate the time zones of all your viewers.
Take note of when you make these changes and monitor your progress. Especially pay attention to CTR and watch time in the first few hours of launch. Getting lots of viewers right after a video goes live is critical if you want the algorithm to pick up your video and run with it.
Compare to Other Channels
Finally, consider when your competitors are posting. Subscribe and turn on notifications so that you can know the precise time and day of their uploads, as YouTube doesn’t show the exact time on the video’s page. If those videos are doing well, time your videos to appear an hour or two after theirs. The algorithm is more likely to recommend your video as a follow-up to one of theirs, allowing you to piggyback on their success.
If you need more YouTube content or just want some help with YouTube Channel Optimization, visit AgencyHub and check out our social media services to give your channel a boost.