What Time Should I Post This?
posted by Jim Zamichieli
Recently, I was playing around with a tool that, like Klout, measured my social influence. Now, I haven’t yet found a measurement tool that’s the “end all, be all” of social media metrics, but I’m always interested in seeing what my results are. Nevertheless, the report told me that I needed to post during “optimal sharing times.” Optimal sharing times? I usually don’t have trouble broadcasting my messages through the social media sphere, but it made me think: is there truly a time that’s better than all others to post things? Is timing something we should all consider when promoting something? The answer is yes, but like most things, it’s not quite that simple.
The Raw, Standard Results
- Posting to Twitter at noon, 5PM, and 6PM
- Posting to Twitter midweek, and on weekends
- Sharing information via Facebook on Saturday
- Sharing Facebook information around noon
- Posting to blogs in the mornings
- Posting to blogs on a Monday
Giving Life to the Numbers
After looking at the data for a bit, I began thinking about why noon seemed to be the overall winner for times to post. It hit me: that’s when people start getting into what I call, “lunch mode.” Think about it: you’ve put in a good half-day at work, at home, or at school, and the closer your lunch break gets, the more likely you are to stray from your duties over to your social networks. The same is true for 5PM and 6PM: the end of the work day for a large amount of people is at 5PM, and people are again likely to stray as they’re closing up shop. And 6PM? The standard time many corporate folks are getting home from their commutes.
Twitter vs. Facebook
Now, why would Facebook’s optimal time be Saturday, and Twitter’s optimal time be midweek and weekends? Twitter’s easier to check than Facebook. What I mean by that is, Twitter has one real usage: sharing something in 140 characters or less, whether it be a link, picture, or a simple sentence. Facebook, on the other hand, is more involved and occupies more time. Who’s tagged in that photo? Who just started dating who? Who else commented on that status? Midweek is the time when the Monday’s productivity boost starts to wear off, making a social media distraction all the more likely. Since you can get information on Twitter quicker than you can get it from Facebook, more people can check it during the work day without eating up a lot of time (and let’s be honest: less time = less chance of getting caught in the minds of many). Saturday’s the first day of the weekend for most of us, and that’s when people who don’t have time to check in with Facebook during the work week will want to catch up with their networks. Makes sense, right?
When it comes to social sharing, blogs seem to be a different animal entirely. Mornings and Mondays see the most activity out of all the other days and times – but why? Though Twitter and Facebook have become a news outlet for many, blogs are still the “go-to” for information on just about any topic. At the beginning of the week, people want to know what’s going on in the world. What trends are happening in this industry? Who’s saying what about that issue? Reading up on things while you’re still fresh in the morning is normal behavior, so it’s no surprise that the optimal time to post a blog entry appeals to it.
What Does That Mean for You?
These numbers seem to make sense, but that doesn’t mean you need to do everything by the books (or by the infographics, in this case) to raise your impact. If you have some groundbreaking news that would appeal to ER nurses and doctors, and you know their “lunch mode” kicks in at 3AM, tailor your timing accordingly. The same is true if you’re targeting college kids who are active users while they’re in class at 10AM. Maybe busy stay-at-home parents check in with their networks most in the early afternoon, between running errands and picking up the kids – not everyone runs on the same schedule. Another important thing you might want to consider: can your audience scroll through all the updates they’ve missed since their last login, or are they in a time crunch and can only skim things from the top? That answer will be the key to unlock just how important your timing has to be. The advice I always give to people, and what I try to take into consideration with my own efforts is: Think about how you would go about something. When do you find yourself spending the most time on your social networks? What time of day are you most likely to read a blog, click a link from your Facebook newsfeed, or take a look at Twitter? No matter what industry you’re in – or even if you’re not wearing the corporate suit – you can use your own habits as a guide for how other people will behave (unless, of course, you know you’re an outlier; you can get into danger if you think of yourself from the standpoint of being a PR pro versus from the standpoint of being a fourtysomething father of three).
I’ve posted blog entries at night in the middle of the week, and I’ve tweeted things early on a Sunday morning. I’ve also updated Facebook on a Saturday, and tweeted at noon. The timing of social sharing has the same basic root as the rest of the science behind social sharing: consider the reaction you’re looking for, and which audiences you’re going after. Make it work for them, and you’ll see a return on your efforts.
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