Here’s the sad truth about “best time to post” infographics: they look at the fan base of whatever data set they’re using, pick out the times that represented the highest engagement (comments, “likes”, etc.), and report it as gospel to everyone.
Then, people around the world share these infographics because they don’t know any better. And everybody posts during these recommended times, which floods the streams of their fan bases and ultimately accomplishes nothing.
It’s like announcing at the amusement park which ride you’re going on next, which influences everyone around you to go on the same ride, and then you’re all stuck in line together.
Unfortunately, there are critical factors that influence the “best times” to post on social media, but they don’t make the cut when the infographic is created. We’ll explore three of them below:
The Goal for the Post
Why are you posting in the first place?
- Are you just trying to stay top of mind with a pretty graphic? Post when the bulk of your fan base is likely to be logged onto that social network.
- Do you want responses to a question? Post when your fan base is most likely to have time to respond.
- Clicks to your article? Post when your fan base is most likely to leave the social network to read something else. (More on that in a minute)
In the U.S. alone, three hours can separate your follower base. If you have followers in Europe, the gap gets even wider. In other words, if all you see on an infographic is that “the best time to post on Twitter is between 1-4pm” then whose 1pm is it?
Remember when I said to post when your fan base is most likely to leave the social network to read something else? Flip that around…what will your audience be most likely doing when they see your post? Will they be on a subway commuting to work? If so, they’re on mobile, and might not be that interested in clicking through to your shopping cart for the latest sale. They might, however, be okay with reading your most recent blog post. The context in which your reader is going to be exposed to your message is extremely important if you want to achieve the goal you set for that post.
Oh, and if you are trying to get your audience to click through to something when there’s a high likelihood they’re on a mobile device, you’d better darn well have a mobile-friendly website or landing page!
Create your own “Best Times to Post” and more
The best time to post on social media, send an email campaign, or run any other marketing message, depends largely on these three factors above. So your job is to build up enough data and track for yourself what works, and when, for each piece of content you put out there.
Then, if you want to take things to the next level, check out a follow-up article about social media posting strategies.
Tracking and Analytics Resources for Social Media
Link Shorteners & Campaign Tagging – using network-specific URL’s that have campaign tags in them will let you track which networks are driving the most clicks to your site. Link shorteners like bit.ly do this as well.
Pinterest – Pinterest has some built-in analytics, but here is a great rundown of tools on Amy Porterfield’s website, some of which also include support for Instagram and Tumblr.
Twitter – Twitter provides analytics at analytics.twitter.com, or you can use services like Sprout Social to track performance.
LinkedIn – company pages have some generic analytics as well as tracking for each post. If your company page is active on LinkedIn you could use a spreadsheet.
Google+ – CircleCount.com, NOD3X, both offer comprehensive stats on your individual and aggregate posts, both for pages and profiles, for free. Steady Demand Pro is a tool that allows you to track up to five Google+ Pages (or Profiles) and gain valuable insights on post times, engagement, and more, as shown in the graphic. Steady Demand also calculates a signal to post ratio both for hours of the day and by post type, which is an entirely different discussion on social media posting strategy.
TIP: use the code brandmanager for 20% off for life after your free trial of Steady Demand Pro.
Save the Unicorns
I made a joke that every time a “best time to post” infographic is created, a unicorn dies. I was going to go with pixies, but they can be mischievous buggers at times, and people use cats & puppies for other causes like this, so unicorns it is. If you share this sentiment, why not pin this image below?
I’ve done it for you here: http://pinterest.com/pin/259097784785563578/