You Should Probably Ignore Much of What You Read on This Topic – Maybe Including This Post.
We’ve all seen them. Every few months or less, there’s a new post titled ‘The best times to post on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter… etc.’ and we all lap them up.
I mean, why wouldn’t we? Everyone is chasing the silver bullet that is social media in order to market their business, reach new heights and pip our competitors to the post.
The problem is, most of this information is, well, let’s just say irrelevant. Kinda.
I’m all for taking a bit of advice, guidance and even seeing what has worked for someone else and giving the same/similar a go.
You may have done the same yourself.
But there are a few issues with these kinds of blog posts, and to be fair to them, they are only created to help you and some are very detailed.
But for most of us, we’re not marketing to an American audience. And if every business took the majority of the advice online, then each Facebook business page would post at the same time on the same day for maximum exposure, therefore making it highly competitive, cluttered, forcing Facebook to exclude even more posts from the newsfeed with it’s Edgerank algorithm.
In short, you don’t exist in the eyes of your target audience.
So, what do you do?
I’ll cover this point on Twitter with a tool I like to make use of, Audiense. You can replicate a similar process on other platforms with the networks own analytics.
You’ll need a paid account if you have a large audiense, or want to drill down into more detailed approach to the best time to tweet for custom audiences.
First, on the Audiense dashboard of the Twitter account you want to create a posting schedule for, hover over the ‘Dashboard’ tab and select ‘Best time to tweet’.
Next up, select the ‘Get my report now’ button to create a report for the chosen Twitter profile.
This will be for your last 1,000 followers, which is the default with Audiense. If you want to get a schedule based on a larger audiense, you’ll need a paid account which increases with the more followers you want to analyse, amongst other factors.
You’ll get a notification within Audiense when the report is ready, or you can choose to have an email sent if you don’t want to wait a minute or two twiddling your thumbs.
The report will now show up in your ‘Best time to tweet’ section, now click on the ‘View report’ button. Obviously :)
Here is where your unique posting schedule will be created, with far more detail than most of your competitors.
Your report will show a few graphs, when your community is online, online community users by hour, potential exposure by hour and more.
We’ll start with the ‘online community users by hour’ but you are free to replicate the process with the other charts.
You can see the info displayed below, which in this case suggests that the peak number of followers are online between 1400 – 1700 hours. This is for all days of the week.
Rather than customise your schedule as a whole, select individual days below the chart to see when the majority of your community is online for each particular day.
You can then decide when to post and how many times to post each day. Something which most people leave out.
See the difference below of the busy times on two separate days:
You’ll see the difference in Thursday posts to Sunday quite clearly. Thursday has some great opportunity earlier in the day, where the weekend tends to suggest more opportunity to post later in the day.
I’ve seen some drastic differences by day for some clients, with certain days being much busier in the morning and other days suggesting afternoon posts work best.
There are also other options, namely if you are aiming to focus your attention on influencers in your space.
For this, use the chart titled ‘potential exposure per hour. This is different to the last because it takes into account the size of the community of the people who follow you. The people who follow you with the largest number of followers mean you have more potential exposure if they engage with or retweet one of your messages.
You should also create a report for different Twitter lists. For example, if you were focusing on leads and sales, then you might have a Twitter list of target companies you’d like to engage with for social selling.
Look at the difference in times the community is online below (use the slider). The general community is online at different times of the day compared to a list of people I’m trying to take on as clients.
The left image is the list of people I’m trying to reach, while the image on the right is that of my entire Twitter community.
This may lead you to have different schedules for different style campaigns e.g. awareness or lead generation. Website traffic or engagement.
There is a step further you can go to optimise your posting schedule, which can get quite time-consuming and would require more long-term data from your website analytics as well as from your social channels.
Over time you will get enough data from your conversion tracking in Google Analytics to know at which time of day you get more email subscribers, eBook downloads and other nuggets of information.
This will allow you to know when is the best time of the day to post to get people to read your latest article (e.g. when would people have the time to read a full 5 minute article) or when do most people engage with your brand account on Twitter so you know when you’ll get the best response sparking a conversation online.
This comes back to defining a clear strategy for why you are using social media in general and why you are using a particular social channel. They are all different and serve to accelerate your goals for different stages of your sales funnel.
It’s not something that someone else can answer for you in a single blog post, without the data from your own website and social channels.
It will also evolve over time as your audience grows and even changes.
And remember, test test and test some more.
When do you find is the best time to post on your own social channels?