TLDR: The right content, at the right time, is gold.
This is a question that gets bounced around social media circles frequently. Timing is an element, but not the entire picture. Instead of thinking solely about the numbers on the clock, frame it this way: How and when can I get the most people to watch my stuff?
This is critical for two reasons. First, if you know when your followers are going to be on, they are more likely to se your posts. Second, even the best content will be buried if it’s not shared at peak traffic hours.
When you post, think of your content as having a “time value.” The time value of a post is 100 percent immediately after posting. Every minute that goes by, that value drops. The longer the post is out there, the less chance a post has to be seen as it gets buried by new information from other contributors.
The closer you are to posting when your viewers are online, the better.
There are plenty of site-specific and demo-specific articles on when to post. For you as a small business owner, local patterns are more useful than any national trend. Consider your goals when posting. Time frames that are great for a company like Nabisco or Macy’s may not sync well with what you need. Don’t forget to factor time zones, too!
Here are some tips to think about when choosing a time.
- While seeing your post is helpful, interaction with your post is more important. Likes, shares and comments push your content out there more.
- Aim for the right audience. Ask your customers to follow you. The type of content displayed will attract a certain type of follower. Be relevant.
- Advertise traditionally on social media. Creating a custom audience and serving them display ads does drive traffic if your social profiles are stagnant. You can use phone or email lists on Facebook to reach out to your current customers and grow your base with customers like them. (See more about custom audiences here.)
- Use your analytics tools. Most networks have sophisticated systems built in. Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube, and more tell you when your audience is watching and what they are interacting with. Some will even tell you what percentage of your audience is watching in real time!
- Think of it from your own perspective. Would you stop and look at that? When are you on? If you have employees, have them follow you. And follow yourself! Do you notice your own posts? If not, why?
- Keep a list of posts and note when they were posted. Track how they performed historically. Find trends. Connect content with time. Play around with those trends. Experiment.
- People can be easily distracted by major news events so be aware of what is happening in the local and national news. Notice if your followers seem to be distracted and see if the news is something you can talk about as well to stay in the conversation.
Whatever you do, don’t post marketing content during a tragedy! It’s ok to post during a major news event to acknowledge it or show support. To advertise is just tactless, to say the least.
One time, Macy’s posted an ad during a hurricane. The store offered victims a sizeable discount on clothes. Though well-intentioned, the online community ate them for breakfast because it came off as insensitive and exploitative.
Not a good plan. Err on the side of caution. Always.
A client of ours sells home security and did the opposite. The Friday before our major campaign was supposed to launch, the Sandy Hook school shooting occurred. We froze the project for a week, but even then it was too raw. Two weeks later we felt good about finally releasing their marketing.
A homerun ad by Nabisco stole the show at the Superbowl in 2013. The power went out for a few minutes during the game and live broadcast. Owning the Oreo brand in the US, the company’s agency put out a single tweet on Oreo’s account. It had a picture of an Oreo being dunked in a dim light, and said, “You can still dunk in the dark.”
It was one free tweet, but the press loved it and so did the fans. It was discussed nearly as much as the game the next day.
If an event doesn’t fit, it doesn’t fit. If your brand isn’t oriented toward Christmas then perhaps a simple holiday greeting would suffice. If it’s not political, staying far away from those events or news stories is wise. As a general rule stay neutral in any kind of dispute.
By paying attention, listening, responding promptly and understanding who your customers are and what they love, you will find the right time to post.