OK, you’ve established a social media presence. Your Facebook page and Twitter accounts are growing followers and you’re creating content to share regularly. The next step is to make sure they’re actually engaging with what you’re writing.
One of the most important aspects of generating interaction is optimizing your feeds to hit your audience when they’re most likely to engage. Because it’s not worth sharing content if nobody is going to see it.
When I first started working on the business side of social in 2008, the art of timing my posts was highly unscientific. I’d watch the number of Facebook friends who were signed in to chat throughout the day, and when I felt there were enough, I’d post. Luckily, my method was fairly successful; even after I tested various times, I found that my friend gauge had given me a pretty good reading. For my audience, the best times to post turned out to be late morning or mid-afternoon. My guess was people were bored and catching up on Facebook at work.
Thankfully, community managers today don’t have to rely on such arcane methods to test the best times to post for their audience. There has been a fair amount of research over the last couple years into the best times to post to Facebook and Twitter. Bitly launched a study last year that actually had findings similar to my own – early afternoons during the week were good times on both networks. Media Bistro released a similar report in the winter. Both were large-scale studies that tested a very broad audience.
But as you know, every audience is unique. It’s not always wise to rely on broad studies to decide your marketing strategies. So I thought I’d share some of the tools available to help businesses (and individuals, if you’re so inclined) learn what times are best to post for their audiences. Here are some of my favorites.
This tool analyzes your followers’ Twitter patterns to determine what times of the day they’re most likely to be reading their feeds and posting. Armed with this knowledge, you can time your tweets to post when they’re most likely to be read and retweeted. A sample graph from my Twitter account is below. As you can see, my followers are most active between 11 a.m. and 6 p.m. during the week. It wouldn’t do me a whole lot of good to tweet something in the wee hours of the morning if I’m hoping to for interaction.
PageLever has been hailed as a savior for marketers looking for robust Facebook analytics. Their focus is specifically on the News Feed, and PageLever Now provides real-time analytics for your page. It allows you to track, within minutes, which posts are most active, how long they are generating engagement and when they fall off users’ feeds. Using this data, it will assist you in choosing the best time to schedule your posts.
This is the best tool I’ve found for optimizing Google+ page sharing. It will look at past data to help you decide the best time to write a post on your page. Your posts are given ranks based on +1s, comments and shares, and then broken down both by day of the week and time of day. The tool will also show your most popular posts as part of its report, which can help you tailor post topics to what gets the most interaction.
Once you know what time your followers are most likely to interact with your business, you can begin writing in advance to share at an optimal time. But how do you make sure your posts go out at the times you’ve planned? Certainly you don’t have the free time to log in everyday at the perfect hour to craft a genius post. Good news, there are a ton of tools that will help you schedule Facebook, Google+ and Twitter posts in advance so that you can set things up days out and rest assured your audience will see your content when they’re online.
Next time I’ll share some of my favorite tools for doing just that.