If you've recently started promoting your OnlyFans on Reddit, you've probably wondered whether a less successful post of yours was less successful because of the time you posted it.

In this blog post, we'll address this and talk a bit about what other blog posts miss.

Prologue: On Optimizing your Post Schedule

The short and sweet answer, as so many other blogs have pointed out, is: "probably!"

There are times in the day where fewer people are online, and times of the day where more people are online, yet there is no singular best time to post on Reddit because Reddit is not a single person.

You'll find Redditor's across the globe. For instance, you'd expect the subreddit /r/france to operate on a completely different schedule to /r/nyc, and /r/nyc to still be different yet from /r/seattle.

Even within America, people are distributed across 3 hours of time zones! You may think this doesn't matter a lot, but it significantly changes the distribution of when people are online, and actually makes your post time matter less, if you don't care which audience you engage.

And, if you're reading this in the Covid-19 pandemic, you'll also know much of the population is working from home. People will pop in and out of Reddit in the middle of the day, so Reddit activity is less "spiky" than it used to be.

Example distribution of activity in /r/nyc vs. distribution of the combined of all city subreddits in the US. Notice how the peaks and troughs are more concentrated when the population is in one time zone.

The pattern in the above picture can be summarized this way:

  • The least activity on US-based subreddits is at night
  • There are two spikes: one in the morning – before work – and one in the evening – after work.
  • In between morning and evening, there will be a higher activity of US Redditors than there would be in the dead of night.

If you don't have time to optimize your post schedule, don't sweat it. You may see some impact on your numbers, but as long as you're not posting late at night, you will be OK posting at any time of the day.

But this is a blog post about the best time to post on Reddit!

So, for the sake of exploring the topic a bit further, let's say you do want to optimize your Reddit posting schedule and make sure you get the most upvotes. And, in doing so, discover what most other posts on the topic get wrong.

First, let's cover some important basics.

Part 1: Gravity, and Upvotes

If you've been on Reddit for a day or so, you understand upvotes, and that getting more upvotes will get your post more seen. But going deeper – and understanding the mechanics of how exactly an upvote ends up landing you on the front page – can shed some light on discovering the best time to post.

How upvotes work, and how long they last

We all know more upvotes in a short period means the higher you're likely to score on someone's feed. But how do posts fall off the front page? Why do some never end up on the front pages?

On Reddit, posts fall due to the effects of gravity.

Gravity here, is a term in the post ranking algorithm, deciding how a post moves down in ranking over time. Without going too in the weeds, the Reddit popularity algorithm is remarkably simple

$$ \text{popularity} = log_{10}(\text{upvotes} - \text{downvotes}) - {\text{post age}} * \text{gravity} $$

Looking at this, you can see that if you get upvotes, your popularity goes up.

Downvotes drag your popularity down.

But also interestingly, the more upvotes you get, the less each individual upvote matters. Because of the "logarithmic" part of the equation, the first 1000 upvotes are equally as valuable as the next 9000.

Equally as important is gravity. You'll see, also in this equation, is a term causing your popularity to go down each second that your post exists. As the clock ticks, your post will be ranked lower and lower if you don't get upvotes faster than gravity pulls your post down.

And since the first 1,000 and the next 9,000 upvotes are equally weighted (as well as the first 10,000 and the next 90,000), getting upvotes fast enough becomes next to impossible once your post becomes popular enough.

The end result of this? The broad mix of posts you see on the front page.

A post with 1000 upvotes could be on the front page right next to a post with 20,000 upvotes IF it gets upvoted fast enough. Similarly, a post that gets 10000 upvotes, but over a few days, will never end up on the front page. Timing, and more importantly speed, is everything. But, you don't actually need many upvotes to make it to the front page of your Subreddit if you get enough quickly.

How do people see my post in the first place?

Reddit adds a bit of randomness in the mix to help with this. If it didn't, the Reddit upvoting algorithm wouldn't work as well. Most users don't voluntarily sort by newest post (though this is possible).

Instead, Reddit takes new posts and sends them to some people's feeds, inserting them into a random spot. If a new post gets an upvote, that lets Reddit know to send the post to the feed of more Redditors. For successful posts, this leads to a chain reaction where more and more people see the post as a result of previous upvotes.

Once the post gets old enough, the traditional upvote mechanism takes over and the equation above describes how posts will be ranked and shown. This process, until a post matures, lasts about 2 hours.

A strong first impression is important

The first two hours of your post are absolutely critical to the overall success of the post, so make sure to play by these rules.

So, when are the best two hours? We're getting there, but understanding the truth of when to post – and where other blogs fail to give the right advice – we need to introduce one more concept.

Part 2: Guns, planes, and World War II

In the 1940s, during the peak of World War 2, the US military was examining aircraft that returned to bases for damage and determined that in order to minimize the chance of their bombers being shot down by the enemy's fire, they would reinforce the parts of the plane that received the most damage.

The image looked like the one below

An aggregation of what parts of planes were shot and returned in WWII. The red spots mark where a bullet from the enemy fire entered.

The reasoning behind this is, since planes sustain the most damage in the tail, the center of the hull, and the tips of the wings, reinforcing these areas would make the plane harder to shoot down.

The Statistical Research Group (SRG) at Columbia University was quick to contradict the claim that reinforcing these parts of the aircraft would add additional meaningful protection. They claimed, in what at first seems paradoxical, that the areas not marked red above are the spots of the plane that should receive protection.

Here was the oversight that led to the Military being wrong in its analysis:

This was an examination of planes that had returned to the base, rather than an examination of all planes that were being sent off to fight. Since some planes are shot down, the planes that return to base represent the ones that survived.

The planes that were downed by the opponents? The Military had no data on where they were shot. But when firing a gun from a plane, you don't have much control over where the bullet lands, leaving you to expect that the areas where you don't see bullet holes on the above diagram should have been shot as well.

Because you don't see them, it's likely that bullets that hit the unmarked parts of the plane were fatal and downed the aircraft.

This is an example of something called "Survivorship Bias."

What does this have to do with posting on Reddit?

When you see posts rise to the top of Reddit, you are seeing a form of survivorship bias, and when you select for this group alone, any analysis saying "posts with over 2,000 karma posted at X time" misses data that is pulled in from a larger study of all posts.

But, if you're just starting out and want to reinforce the areas where you see fewer posts making it to the top.

Why do you see so many posts posted in the evening make it to the top?

Simply put, it's when the most posts were made. 5-7 PM isn't just when most people who will upvote your posts are active, it's also when the people who are making posts are most active.

So, the truth is, seeing a large number of posts rise to the top at a given time doesn't mean posting at that time will increase your chances of rising to the top; it may in fact hurt your chances! You will be in competition with a much larger pool of posts that are all vying for the same 15 spots on the front page.

Epilogue: Putting it all together

The best post time will of course vary for each subreddit community, but generally aim to post 1.5 to 2.5 hours earlier than most successful posts are made.

Example of distribution of Redditors to reddit posters on a subreddit. When the ratio of posters to Redditors is higher, your individual chances of success go down.

Do you see posts that start ticking up around 5 or 6 PM? Aim for 3 PM at the latest with your posts. You want to make sure that you avoid competition, and by the time competition comes into play, that your post has already cemented its ranking.

To recap,

  • The first two hours of your post are extremely critical to its success. If you want to maximize your upvotes regardless of the time, make sure to leave a strong impression.
  • Reddit posts rankings decay over time, and the first 1000 upvotes are just as valuable towards landing you on the front page as the next 9000. You want to aim to be out of the two-hour window and in a high-ranking position by the time most posts are being sent out.
  • Avoid competition as much as possible. If you compete, and you're not established, you will make your life a lot harder.

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