Social media. It comes in many forms—Twitter, Pinterest, Facebook, blogging—and can be among the easiest, cheapest, and best way to reach new customers, engage old ones, and keep your business current and a part of the conversation.
But have you ever noticed how certain tweets get a lot of response and re-tweets, while others don’t seem to grab hold of anyone’s attention? The same goes from some Facebook updates. Some cause a huge surge in likes and click-throughs, yet others just attract virtual crickets. It’s enough to make you turn to the Magic 8 ball method of social media—shaking that small, black orb and asking what your update will really accomplish right now (“Reply hazy” is the worst one to get).
Many studies have been done analyzing Twitter and Facebook usage, and small business owners can incorporate the results into a more successful social media plan. But there is more to it than that. The adage “Timing is everything” is true…but it comes with an asterisk. Read on to find out how you can figure out the best time to tweet, post, and update. (Note: All times that are mentioned are EST.)
Know the daily social media rhythms
Do a quick search for social media stats, and an enormous amount of information is revealed: 53 percent of people on Twitter recommend companies or product in their tweets, and estimates say Facebook will reach more than one billion users this August. It’s no wonder there has been a plethora of studies to find out how best to utilize these powerful marketing platforms.
“Recent data shows that the best time for businesses to tweet is mid-to-late afternoon early in the week,” says Becky Carroll, author of The Hidden Power of Your Customers and founder of Petra Consulting Group, an award-winning management consultancy focused on social media, customer engagement, and marketing. ”The peak time to tweet to get the most click-throughs would be between noon and 6 pm Monday through Thursday, while the peak time to get re-tweets is around 4 pm on Fridays, when people are getting ready to head home.”
John Wie, a social media analyst at /excelamktg, a social media marketing agency in Los Angeles, offers somewhat different guidance. “Lemon.ly [one of the top providers of infographic design, visual marketing, and video infographics] conducted a study and found that 9 to 11 am and 1 to 3 pm are the best times to tweet during weekdays,” he says.
For Facebook, the sweet spot is a bit reversed. “[A Hubspot study] found that Facebook content posted later in the day gets more likes and shares. Likes peak around 8 pm, while shares peak around 6 pm,” Wie says, “Additionally, Facebook content posted on Saturday and Sunday tends to get more likes than those posted during the regular week.”
How to make it personal
Though social media experts cite research and statistics, most advise clients to avoid a “one size fits all” model when incorporating that data into a marketing strategy. Before making a huge shift, it’s a good idea to employ some of the new online tools to analyze your specific business’s needs.
“The best time to publish a social post depends on a number of different factors—type of business, time of year, target customers, and so on,” says leading social marketer Ken Herron. He recommends using tools like Tweriod, Crowdbooster, SocialFlow and others to give a detailed analysis of the best time to tweet or update for your business’s audience.
“Often, it takes a trial-and-error approach to find the optimum time,” says Lanae Paaverud, owner and founder of Social Networking Nanny, a social media concierge company that helps businesses get social on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and more.
To begin, think about the audience you are trying to reach and ask some key questions. Paaverud suggests: “Do they work during the day and more likely to cruise social media in the evenings? Or do they hang out with social media during the day while at work? Are they too busy during the week, and only get to social media on the weekends?” Savvy business owners need to know the answers to those questions—or find out.
The time invested to monitor your existing social media strategy and analyze results from these online tools is well worth itsince it helps you reach your desired customers and learn how best to engage them. “What we do is set up a few powerful updates at various times during the day, and track our user behavior,” says Jen Cohen, President of Something Creative, an integrated marketing company that focuses on planning, executing, and measuring strategic social media campaigns, “After analyzing the data, we have a better understanding of how our users are engaging with our page and what they want from us.”
Remember the number one rule of social media
So, you use the tools, monitor the results, and discover your business’s optimal tweet and post times. That’s great, give yourself a high-five, but that, in and of itself does not mean you have mastered the social media game. It is essential that what you are tweeting and posting and linking to is relevant…and that you actually do it.
“Remember, there are no shortcuts. Just because you post at optimal times does not guarantee your success,” says Anthony Johnson, President of SpiralOut Consulting LLC. a social media management company. “The most important things about social media are consistency, content, and engagement.”
Social Networking Nanny’s Paaverud agrees, “In the end, businesses need to remember one thing: it is better to be active and post or tweet—no matter what the day or time—than to not do anything at all.”
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