There are a lot – and I mean A LOT – of blogs, infographics, and articles purporting to tell you the best times to post on your various social media channels. But, unfortunately, the advice offered by many of them is far too crude to be put to effective use.
The reality is that there is no magic formula that is guaranteed to maximise how many people your posts reach, and how much engagement they attract.
There are, of course, some common-sense rules to adhere to – e.g., don’t post content at 3am, when most of your audience is sleeping. But, for the most part, the success of your social media campaigns depends on a number of factors, such as: what sector you’re in, what the product or service is that you offer, the demographics of your audience, which country(ies) you’re targeting, and how an individual post relates to the rest of your campaign.
With so many variables, it’s unlikely that any two companies will have identical social media requirements. As such, it’s much better to collect your own data, than rely on generic platform- or industry-specific models.
It’s not hard to gather this data; there are multiple tools – including our own free Facebook Page Barometer – that allow you to track just how well each of your posts is doing, and a cursory glance at a couple of competitors’ pages will give you a good idea of what you’re up against. You can then use this data to plan a posting strategy, and tailor it in line with new data as it comes in.
With all this in mind, we’d like to offer a few pieces of advice (not rules!) that should help you ensure that your posts receive the maximum level of exposure and engagement.
Keep Up With Topical Issues, No Matter Your Organisation’s Size
Your posts will not be viewed in isolation. They will appear as just one clickable option out of 10s, 100s if not 1,000s of others in newsfeeds made up of posts from your customers’ friends, family, colleagues, as well as other businesses and organisations – when it comes to social media, you really are in competition with everybody!
So, if your post appears irrelevant or obviously self-serving, it’s unlikely that it will solicit many clicks. But, if your post links in to an issue that people are already talking about, then the chances people are likely to engage will rise dramatically.
If you’re a small or local business, keeping an eye on which topics are trending in your area and finding a way to link them to what you want to say will generally prove quite effective.
If you’re a larger organisation, look at what’s happening in the news and try to align your posts with the biggest stories. Remember, though, don’t pick topics that are too serious, since any attempt to cash in on a tragedy or catastrophe is not only immoral, but unlikely to win you many fans and could even spark a backlash.
The trick with this type of topical post is to move quickly. Though many “When to Post” infographics and blogs may try and make you post at a particular time – say, at 17.00, when everyone’s finished work – the truth is that the majority of people check their social media accounts throughout the day. Far better to get a good post out there when a topic is still trending than waiting for “the perfect time” and missing the boat. Besides, if your post does well, it will carry on getting exposure long after you post it. Just post in line with what your data’s telling you, and you will be fine.
Check Which Formats Perform Best and When
Particular types of content seem to do better than others at particular times of the year, according to a report by NewsCred.
This makes a lot of sense when you think about how you use the Internet at different times of the year. For example, educational videos seem to do better in September, when the kids are returning to school, which is not at all surprising. And, around festivals and public holidays, more whimsical, fun content seems to perform better. Again, no surprises here. The report also show that lists and “why” posts seem to perform at a fairly similar level all year round, which is certainly worth bearing in mind.
However, though the NewsCred report is interesting, it’s far better to monitor the performance of your own posts. You may find, for example, that list posts do particularly well on a Friday afternoon, or videos perform excellently on a Wednesday morning. Longer term, you may discover that posting in a particular format works well on a bank holiday, and that videos are more popular in spring.
After all, all the research out there is not of content and posts consumed by your specific target audience so how can it be directly and perfectly relevant to you, your content, your goals and your networks?!
Whatever trends you find – and you will find them – and however inexplicable they may seem, make sure you make the most of them.
Monitor and Exploit Buying Trends
Consumers often act in unison. All businesses know this, and months when nothing much is happening are often followed by an influx of sales. These trends are determined largely by external factors, but also by your own publicity and awareness campaigns – e.g., you can expect an increase in business activity immediately after a new marketing campaign launches.
What’s more, your consumers’ buying trends are likely to follow a pattern – be it weekly, monthly, or annually. Monitoring and analysing these patterns will help you determine when to post particular content on social media.
If, for example, you are approaching a period of low activity, it may be wise to launch a social media promotion campaign to keep things ticking over. Or, approaching a busy period, perhaps maximise sales even more with some promotional material on items that don’t typically sell too well or you need to clear stock of.
Combined with the knowledge you will have accrued by tracking which formats work best and when, publishing content at the most opportune times in your consumers’ buying trends will mean that your posts are doubly effective: your content will be appealing, and your format timely.
If you have to decide what time works best, trust your own data, not other’s
I’ve seen too many blog posts and infographic on the subject of Social Media publishing inferring that there is such a thing as an universal best time to post on Social Media. There’s not, if it was the case, we would all be posting on Tuesday at 2PM. How dumb would that be!
What we’ve done at Agorapulse is to show you how YOUR content has been doing by day of the week and time of the day (in terms of reach and engagement). Analyzing that data from your own content can help you realize that weekends may not work well for others but do well for your audience, or late nights.
In a nutshell, when deciding when are the best times to post on your Social Media account, the best place to start is usually your own data, rather than some random time and day proclaimed by some data mad scientist who has no clue of who your audience is!
For example, for us, day time seem to work all good, but evening time, not so much:
Whatever You Do, Do It Well, and Don’t Overdo It
A series of well-placed, well-thought out posts will do far more for your brand than simply barraging your followers with a torrent of posts. Different industries can get away with posting more often than others. But, no matter what industry you belong to, your content should always be high quality, original, and data-driven.
Creating a great social media campaign is not easy. It requires diligence, analysis, time, and intelligence. There are no shortcuts, and there’s no one-size-fits-all solution. Industry- and platform-general data can only get you so far. So, if you want to be the best, you’re going to have to make up the difference yourself.
The good news is that there’s an abundance of great tools to help you monitor your social media performance and plan out your campaigns. So what are you waiting for?
Did we miss anything out? How do you plan your social media posts? Let us know below. We’d love to hear your thoughts.