The best time to post to your social media channels isn't universal - it's specific to the audience you're trying to reach. The Digital Marketer provides some tips for determining the best times to engage your audience.
Is there a magic time to post to Facebook? Is Twitter more active on the weekends? How do you determine the optimum time to share your announcement? Does it really matter?
It’s said that timing is everything, and this is certainly true in communications. Some times are better than others to make an announcement, share news, or update your Facebook status.
When I led public relations at a small information company, timing was an integral part of every communications plan. Major announcements required a minute-by-minute rollout timeline. We routinely sent press releases over the wire at dawn, timed so that they'd be near the top of the email box. Fridays were the best (and sometimes the worst) days to pitch the media.
Even internally, the timing of a request mattered. I learned that if I sent a press release to the CEO for approval on Sunday morning, she’d look at it by noon, when she logged into email to get a head start on the week’s work.
What I learned from this experience is that not only does timing matter, but it is also very personal. And it's sometimes situation-specific.
There are countless articles on how to best time your social media updates, email campaigns, and all other communications. The recommendation is almost always based on analysis of traffic data on specific social media channels. But while I find it interesting, I don’t much trust this data. Studies may contradict each other, for one thing, but mostly it’s too generalized for my use. It’s important to remember that the data is aggregated across all types of users and for every business.
Choose the Right Time for Your Audience
I find it best to time my social updates according to the digital patterns of the specific audience I'm trying to reach. Parents aren't going to be checking Facebook at 7 am, for example, when they're trying to get their kids off to school. Businesspeople might be on at 7 am, though, as they commute to their jobs. Every demographic has its own habits and preferences. Our updates need to hew to these specific routines.
Knowing your audience, its preferences and its habits is critical. When Tavi Gevinson launched Rookie, her magazine for teens, she paid attention to their digital habits. She timed the posts of new articles to the typical teen schedule: after school, after dinner, and before bed (around the last Facebook check of the night).
Through trial and error, I’ve learned that updating my LinkedIn status at 5 pm reaches more people than if I updated it at 9 pm. For my clients using Facebook, analysis from the Insights tool is invaluable. We post strategically throughout the day during peak times when their fans are online.
5 Tips for Finding the Best Time
So here are 5 simple tips for timing your social media updates:
- Understand the digital habits of the audience you're trying to reach.
- Listen to the conversation first. Observe the high traffic periods and the low.
- Dig into your data. Use tools like Facebook Insight and Google Analytics to understand activity.
- Experiment. Through trial and error, test different scenarios and evaluate what works by looking at the data.
- Determine your best times to interact, but be prepared to tweak. Patterns do change over time.
So the next time you come across a blog post or infographic that claims the best times to post to social media, take note that it’s very interesting. Then turn away and dig into your own data.