Facebook recently unveiled a new metric in the API that enables us to study when a Page’s fans are online.
We anonymized and aggregated a 1,000 Facebook Pages to take a look at their activity levels during Thanksgiving and Black Friday.
Just looking at overall daily activity, we found that Thanksgiving had roughly “normal” traffic, while Black Friday experienced a bit of a decrease. This data only tells part of the story, how did traffic look hour by hour?
The typical November day experiences a gradual increase throughout the day, peaking at about 6pm (PST). Thanksgiving experienced an increase earlier in the morning, with a small decrease throughout the day.
Black Friday experienced a noticeable spike at approximately 8am (PST), then going well below average throughout the day. We hypothesize that this was due to actual Black Friday activity. Users were up earlier, checking Facebook perhaps on their phones while searching for deals.
News Feed Noise
Just because people were on Facebook, doesn’t mean that they were publishing into the news feed. We like to also examine what we call news feed “noise”. Noise can be created by people or Pages, as they publish content this creates noise for Facebook to sift through. You can think of their results via principles of EdgeRank, as the “signal”.
Taking a look at how people and Pages posted, tells a slightly different story:
The purple line represents people publishing into the news feed, while the green line represents Pages publishing. The two strategies are actually inverse of each other to an extent. People published heavily in the morning of Thanksgiving, while Pages posted heavier during the morning of Black Friday – along with a spike in activity around midnight.
People were fairly quiet on Black Friday, which slightly mirrored their general traffic levels on the same day.
What Does This All Mean?
- More people on Facebook during the morning of Thanksgiving
- The news feed is noisy with people’s posts on the morning of Thanksgiving, but quiet from other Pages
- Black Friday’s news feed noise from Pages was extremely loud, yet people weren’t on as much
Depending on your brand, it appears that there may have been a missed opportunity for many marketers Thanksgiving morning. Users were there, publishing content, not running into much news feed noise from Pages. Brands could use this information to build campaigns around users’ Thanksgiving posts, as opposed to jumping into the pit on Black Friday with every other retailer.
We’ve long suspected that holidays should be treated with different strategies, but now we have some excellent data to start figuring out where to start. If you have a Thanksgiving Day strategy, consider posting after most users have posted – therefore you’ll be battling in the news feed against less personal posts (which should perform better than Pages’ posts).
How Did We Study The Data?
We examined ~1,000 Facebook Pages’ new audience online data. We took a subset of these Pages to focus in on those that had audiences that were mostly American. We made a subset to increase the relevancy of audience profiles to remove the effect of audiences that don’t celebrate Thanksgiving or have Black Friday. This subset had a sample size of roughly 500 Pages.
For the Pages studied, we examined their Audience Online activity over the month of November. We used the median activity levels for Pages’ activity over each hour of the day (as granular as Facebook gets).