Published on 4th Dec, 2012 in Social Media Marketing
Timing Social Media for Best Results
- Provide interesting content that gives people value for their time.
- Deliver your message at a time and place when your audience is there to hear it.
The Half-Life of a TweetLink shortening app Bit.ly coined the term “tweet half-life” in September, 2011, with a blog post that explained its analysis of clicks on its short-links based on when they were first tweeted. Klout follower in November of the same year with an analysis of tweets that showed that users with a high Klout score (and therefore a larger social network) had a longer “shelf life” for their messages than those with lower Klout scores.Bit.ly said that the average half-life of a tweet – that is the amount of time before it had reached the majority of the people who would click on the link in a tweet – was just 3 hours, while Klout said that just over 5 hours was the top of the range for even those social media users with the highest Klout scores.Other social media channels don’t fare much better in terms of lasting impact according to research by Gartner – a post on Facebook or Google+ has a half-life of about 6 hours, while LinkedIn status updates are viewable on the front page of someone with about 500 connections for less than 7 hours.There are three ways to approach the problem of extending the life of your social media efforts.
- Repeat the same link, with different messages, over several days, at different times of day, on Twitter.
- Use hashtags and posting to special interest groups (on LinkedIn, or in an industry-specific forum) or social bookmarking sites (Reddit, StumbleUpon) to extend the life of your messages.
- Optimize the timing of your initial posting (and subsequent re-posting, if needed) to reach the largest possible audience.
What Works Today May Not Work TomorrowSocial media is a changing, living, growing communications channel. Human beings – not marketing plans – govern social media, and human behavior varies from day to day. So it’s important to remember that there are no hard and fast rules on timing.Each company or brand needs to test and evaluate the best times for their audience, and their objectives. If you meet an “expert” who says they know exactly what you should do, ask them how. If the answer is anything other than, “We’ve analyzed your followers based on publicly available data, and we think this is the optimum schedule to start – and we’ll be tracking and modifying the schedule based on actual results,” then look elsewhere for help.One trend that has happened over the last two years that is likely to continue for the foreseeable future is the time-shifting that many professionals are doing. Email and social media have become “adult homework”. We do it when we have time – and that means that millions of us read our LinkedIn Groups, our Facebook pages, and the email that isn’t directly related to our job early in the morning, after work, while eating lunch at our desk, or on the weekend, because that’s when we have time to do it.A side-effect of this trend is that when one of these time-shifting customers reaches out to your company online, they want a response “at Internet speed” – social media isn’t a 9-5 job, and monitoring it is vital because bad news can spread a lot faster than you can prepare a response and get it approved by legal.
General TimetablesIn general, where you’re located and what you’re trying to communicate are the most important factors in determining when you deliver a social media marketing message – that is if the message is tied to a particular event or promotion. So if you’re a restaurant offering a lunch-time special today, you’ll want to deliver that message when people are starting to get hungry, but before they’re in the car on the way to lunch.Common sense, right? Consider this, then: 48% of the U.S. population lives in the Eastern Time Zone, and another 33% lives in the Central Time Zone. Only 4% live in Mountain Time, 14% live in the Pacific Time Zone, and just 2% live in Alaska or Hawaii. So if you’re a national brand, make sure you’re timing your social media for a national audience.In general, if your audience is business executives or decision makers and you had to pick just one time of day for social media messages, try 9 a.m. Pacific. You’ll have a good chance of catching:
- People arriving at work on the West Coast of America and Canada
- Lunchtime (12:00 pm EST) on the East Coast
- The end of the business day in London (5:00 pm GMT)