The lifespan of a publication is a subject that comes up frequently in discussions among community managers. Rumor has it that the life of publications would indeed be only a few minutes or seconds for some… Anna, our Data Analyst, will help you to have some clear answers on this topic!

Anna, based on a sample of our own data (from the activity of about 10,000 communicators on social networks), wished to form her own opinion and sort out the fact from fiction.
Here are the results!

Anna explains us her scientific approach:

“ I had data bases which included different informations concerning our user’s publications on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram: approximately 19 000 publications on Facebook, 17 000 on Instagram and 57 000 on Twitter. These databases contained for one publication the number of likes, comments, shares related to it, and time intervals between such interactions.

First of all I had to define the context. I considered a publication as “dead” if 90% of the related interactions (likes, comments, shares for Facebook of Instagram, replies for Twitter) were done. Besides, I didn’t take into account in my calculations the non-standard publications (whose lifespan belongs to the 5% highest or 5% lowest of the database). These precautions prevent from distort the mean, which is sensitive to the out-of-range values. Then, I took into account only the counts with a large enough community: more than 1000 fans for the Facebook counts, 500 followers for Twitter and 100 for Instagram.

Then I only had to calculate the lifespan mean with all the publications I had at my disposal for Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. These results are depicted on the graph 1: a publication on has an average lifespan of 4 hours 04 minutes on Twitter, 14 hours 42 minutes on Facebook and 21 hours 36 minutes on Instagram.

Furthermore, I wanted to represent the “still alive” publications percentage as a function of the elapsed time. The number of publications which are still alive at the moment T is the number of publications which haven’t reached 90% of their interactions at that moment. The graph 2 shows the “still alive” posts percentage according to the social network: in dark bue for Facebook, clear blue for Twitter and brown for Instagram. It takes around 2 days on Twitter, 3 on Facebook and 5 on Instagram so that all the publications die. Maybe more meaningful, it takes only 40 minutes so that half of the tweets die, whereas it takes 11 hours so that half of the Facebook posts die, and 9 hours for the Instagram publications.”

Here are more details about the second graph highlighting major behavior’s differences between these social networks:

1/ It is clear that tweets are the most ephemeral publications; they disappear quickly, in opposition to the publications on Facebook or Instagram which are more spread over time;

2/ On the first period of the graph (which corresponds approximately to 24 hours), the percentage of still alive publications on Facebook is higher than the one on Instagram; but then the curves cross themselves and thereafter, the number of the publications still alive on Facebook decreases over time whereas the publications on Instagram live long after.

Here is a set of visuals of our results to share:

And to perpetuate your posts to the maximum, nothing beats commitment! Boost yours by relying on our forecast model, directly in our publishing tool,, which offers the best times to spread your content!

Article published by Xavier BK in Prof_OG,SocialMedia

the 13 August 2014