People who work in social media will tell you that timing is everything. The instantaneous nature of social media makes contextual awareness a necessity for social marketers.
There is a lot of information out there about what the best times to post on social media are, however it’s often very unclear and not separated by networks and goals. Each network places a certain importance on timing of posts based on its feed properties, and marketers must have an understanding of this in order to optimize their social efforts.
Due to Facebook’s introduction of “story bumping” last fall, the timing of posts isn’t quite as important on Facebook as it used to be (or as it may be on other networks). With this update, Facebook’s Edgerank algorithm relies more heavily on your affinity to the user responsible for the story, and less on the time decay factor. That being said marketers should still be cognizant of post timing. A Buddy Media Study highlights that posts on Thursdays and Fridays tend to receive the most engagement on Facebook.
In terms of time of day various studies will list anywhere from 9am to 7pm as the best time to post during the day. Really as a marketer you need to consider what your goals are. If your goal is offsite leads or conversions, often the evenings are your best bet. Users are less likely to leave the Facebook environment and engage in additional offsite actions such as purchases while at work or school, in particular if the process involves filling out forms or inputting credit card info. If you’re focused on engagement, start by understanding your target demographics, and consider when they are most likely to spend their time on Facebook as a place to start.
Where Facebook weights what stories appear in your Newsfeed based on affinity, Twitter timelines are entirely chronological (excluding promoted tweets). This makes timing for organic posts much more valuable on Twitter. However, as with Facebook, determining exactly what time to post can be a bit of a mystery, especially since such a large number of Twitter users access the network through a mobile device. One study by HubSpot finds that in terms of CTR (click through rate) posting on weekends and in the afternoon & evening on weekdays drives more clicks.
The important thing to remember with Twitter is that although these times provide guidelines, users also have extensive feeds with many tweets to scroll through. This makes the volume of tweets much more important. It is more advantageous to post 2-5 times per day on Twitter to ensure that your content is seen by users, where you may only need to post once on Facebook, where Time Decay is less of a factor.
Being a network focused around a user's professional life, LinkedIn is a bit of a different animal in terms of social traffic. Since it is used to supplement the workday (as opposed to escape from it), traffic on weekends isn’t what it is on other social networks. A study from MediaBistro states that the best times to post on LinkedIn are usually right before and right after work, as posts receive optimal traffic during these times.
As much as breaking down the optimal times to post on various networks to achieve the best metrics provides a lot of value, customer service is becoming a larger focal point for social moving into 2014. Being able to respond to your fans & followers promptly and intelligently is imperative in the instantaneous world of social today. This aspect of timing in social is just as important as choosing the right times for your posts, if not more so. Marketers and community managers should be constantly monitoring social channels to ensure they’re using those mediums as effective customer touch points.
When it comes to social media, timing can be everything. The fleeting attention span of today’s digital consumer makes reaching them at the right time crucial. Marketers need to understand the nature of the feeds on specific social platforms and how users interact with them. From there, marketers can create content strategies and calendars based on their goals. At the same time, marketers need to be cognizant of the always-on nature of social media, and ensure they’re monitoring all channels in order to provide exceptional customer service to their social following.
About the Author
Paul is a social media marketer and startup enthusiast based in Toronto, Canada. He likes to traverse both the tech startup and marketing agency worlds (and everything in between). Paul divides his time equally between tech events and Blue Jays games.