A1 Journal article (refereed)
Estimating the causal effect of timing on the reach of social media posts (2023)

Valkonen, L., Helske, J., & Karvanen, J. (2023). Estimating the causal effect of timing on the reach of social media posts. Statistical Methods and Applications, 32, 493-507. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10260-022-00664-z

JYU authors or editors

Publication details

All authors or editorsValkonen, Lauri; Helske, Jouni; Karvanen, Juha

Journal or seriesStatistical Methods and Applications



Publication year2023

Publication date24/10/2022


Pages range493-507

PublisherSpringer Science and Business Media LLC

Publication countryGermany

Publication languageEnglish


Publication open accessOpenly available

Publication channel open accessPartially open access channel

Publication is parallel published (JYX)https://jyx.jyu.fi/handle/123456789/83774


Modern companies regularly use social media to communicate with their customers. In addition to the content, the reach of a social media post may depend on the season, the day of the week, and the time of the day. We consider optimizing the timing of Facebook posts by a large Finnish consumers’ cooperative using historical data on previous posts and their reach. The content and the timing of the posts reflect the marketing strategy of the cooperative. These choices affect the reach of a post via a dynamic process where the reactions of users make the post more visible to others. We describe the causal relations of the social media publishing in the form of a directed acyclic graph, use an identification algorithm to obtain a formula for the causal effect, and finally estimate the required conditional probabilities with Bayesian generalized additive models. As a result, we obtain estimates for the expected reach of a post for alternative timings.

Keywordsmarketing communicationsocial mediaFacebooktimingoptimisationcausalitystatistical modelsBayesian analysis

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Ministry reportingYes

Reporting Year2022

JUFO rating1

Last updated on 2024-30-04 at 17:56