Carla Marshall is the Head of Content Marketing at vidIQ. She has 10+ years of experience in video marketing, social media management, content marketing, DRM, and SEO. She was previously Editor in Chief at ReelSEO.com, and as a journalist and video marketer, she's covered news stories, creator journeys, and digital-first publishing initiatives across all the major online video platforms. She is YouTube Certified and a judge for the Shorty Awards, as well as the UK, US, Canadian, Global, and EU Search Awards.
How to Find Out the Best Time to Publish a Video on YouTube
How do you get more views on your YouTube videos? Well, you publish them at the right time for your audience and it just so happens that both YouTube and VidIQ have tools that can help you with that.
First, let’s start with the new YouTube feature that will let you know the best times to publish your video content. To access this tool:
- Click on your YouTube profile image in the top right-hand corner of any desktop screen
- From the Studio dashboard screen, click on the ‘Analytics’ link from the left-hand navigation bar
- From the main analytics screen, click on the ‘Audience’ tab at the top
On this dashboard, you'll see a new module labeled ‘When Your Viewers are on YouTube’. Now, to be clear, this isn't specifically about your viewers watching just your content. It's when viewers who watch your content are on YouTube watching any video.
Think of it like this. There may be somebody at home, sat on a sofa, watching Friends because they're a huge fan of sitcoms. Chances are, they're probably going to also enjoy The Big Bang Theory, so programming logic suggests that The Big Bang Theory should come on straight after Friends.
If you know when your audience is on YouTube you can schedule your videos to be published at that time.
In this visual representation, the deeper the color shade, the higher volume of viewers there are. For example, many of our viewers are on YouTube at 8:00 a.m. Pacific Time Wednesday mornings while fewer viewers are online at 8:00 p.m. on a Friday evening.
Best Time to Publish to YouTube: Exclusive vidIQ Data
That’s YouTube's new ‘best time to post’ feature, but we’ve had very similar data in the vidIQ tool for years.
To access it, click on ‘Videos’ in the left-hand navigation bar in YouTube Studio. Next, click on the ‘edit’ details page for any video (the little pencil symbol). Scroll down a little, and on the right-hand side of this new screen, you will see this ‘Best Time to Post’ tool from vidIQ.
This tool will show you when your audience is most active on YouTube, giving you three-hour windows for when you may want to publish your content. You can click through all the days of the week and see an overall weekly view too, like the one above.
vidIQ is able to provide this data by analyzing your subscriber activity. To see this in action, just click the VidIQ extension button in your browser to activate the drop-down menu, then click on ‘Subscriber Insights.’
The link will take you to a brand new dashboard. It will show you the other channels your subscribers are subscribing to, and which videos they really enjoy watching. Since we know subscribers tend to watch your content for longer, this can be a more reliable data source, albeit from a smaller sample size.
The logic is fairly straightforward. You set up your hotdog stand at lunchtime outside the office because people are hungry. You don't go there at 3:00 a.m. in the morning because there's gonna be no one there to buy your hotdogs. When you know there are more people online who enjoy your content, that's when you should publish it with a few little things to consider:
Firstly, YouTube state themselves that the publish time is not known to directly affect the long-term performance of videos and this can certainly be true of search-based content that needs time to establish itself before momentum really starts to kick in. I wouldn't be surprised if this very video follows a similar trajectory.
Secondly, depending on the content, sometimes YouTube and your audience are not going to wait for your best time to post. For example, if Apple announced their latest iPhone or Marvel released a trailer for their latest Avenger movie at 4:00 p.m. on a Monday, are you going to wait until 7:00 a.m. the following day to add your voice to the conversation? Chances are, the YouTube audience has already got its fill from an alternative source by then.
Also, consider exactly when you publish your video because you might want to miss the on-the-hour and half-hour peak times. At the top and bottom of every hour, loads of creators publish their videos and loads of notifications get sent out to subscribers. Do you want to compete with these or publish your content a few minutes before or after these peak spikes of traffic?
Also, treat your videos a little like stocks. You don't want to invest when their value is at its peak because there's only one direction that can go. You want to get involved when the velocity is starting to ramp up. So if your potential audience's peak time on YouTube is noon then maybe you want to publish your video at 9, 10, or 11:00 a.m.
Finally, when you upload your video to YouTube, remember that it takes time to prepare it and process it. You've got titles, descriptions, tags, thumbnails, end cards, info cards, all of that stuff to consider, and if it's a 4K video, you want it to look the best it can do when people first watch it. So give yourself one or two hours before you actually unleash it on your audience.
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