Updated July 11, 2019; originally posted Sept. 14, 2016
In social media, timing is everything. Having your message received by the largest audience possible offers the greatest opportunity for your postings to have high engagement and create meaningful connections with customers – two of the major reasons to use social media to promote your business.
One of the most common questions about posting is when the best time is to post. This is a complex and nuanced question, however, as the best time for engaging audiences changes dramatically depending on what social media platform you’re posting to and even what type of business you are. While nothing is set in stone, and there’s no such thing as the definitive optimal time to post to social media (though I’ll highlight some broad trends in the infographic below), let’s look at some helpful foundational elements of success to help boost your presence and aid in your overall posting strategy.
Strengthen and Build Your Social Communities
Social media success requires more than simply making a few posts now and then. You need to create thoughtful content that has the ability to start a conversation or create a dialogue with your audience. But you also need an audience. Posts that engage with users by providing unique and relevant information or start a conversation by asking a question or posing a poll can spark followers to respond and/or share your post, helping grow the reach of your post and your potential audience.
You may also want to consider investing in a campaign to grow followers. By creating a paid campaign, you can use the tools on different platforms to reach audiences that may be interested in your content and your business. With nearly all platforms making changes in the past few years to downplay the reach of organic – that is to say, unpaid – postings, this is one of the most effective ways to increase your rank-and-file followers. Plus, this can help grow the pool of users who may interact with what you post on social media – that captive audience you need to engage with to succeed.
Don’t Just Sell – Socialize
Going right in line with the last point is the importance of finding the right balance between selling and socializing. Sure – you want to use social media to grow your business, but there’s a time and place for the hard sell in your marketing process and a time and place for simply being authentic. Not every post has to promote a product, service or sale, and sometimes the best and most engaging posts are those that open the curtain and show your audience your true colors.
You might be surprised how much social media audiences appreciate content that shows your team celebrating a holiday or birthday or simply getting work done behind the scenes. We’ve seen great reactions to our own posts and some of those for our clients that are real and genuine moments from the day. Best of all, these glimpses into your business are easy to provide and may offer a far greater reward than you realize among your followers.
Use the Right Tools
One of the biggest challenges that businesses face with social media simply comes down to time. No, not what time to post, but the time to actually make posts. Fortunately, there are many tools on the market today that can help with scheduling posts in advance, allowing you to make sure new content is always flowing to your networks even when you’re actually busy with other projects.
Social media management platforms like Buffer, TweetDeck, Hootsuite and more offer the ability to connect to your social media accounts and provide options to preschedule posts. This means you can clear some time on your calendar once a week to work on several posts for the days ahead, schedule them and then monitor posts for engagement and feedback. While these tools don’t eliminate the need to keep up with your posts – after all, if someone asks a question or is seeking information on your products or services, you don’t want to leave them waiting – but it can alleviate some of the daily posting work and let you focus on other tasks.
Engagement is a Two-Way Street
That brings me to the final tip – actually engaging with your audience. Many businesses consider engagement enough if people comment on a post and they like the user’s comment. However, that’s not really engaging – that’s people watching, just done online. Taking the time to respond to commenters, whether it’s to diffuse a complaint, answer a question, or just thank them for contributing to the conversation, can show new and existing users that you care about their input and thoughts and are engaged with them in the same way they are with you.
Look at some of the most successful brands on social media like Wendy’s on Twitter, which is well known for its snarky responses and poking fun at competitors. The brand excels at being relatable and humorous with its social media approach, gaining a big following and high rate of engagement with customers. It also stays fresh and topical, often commenting on major social events like the E3 Expo and sports in real time. While that approach isn’t for every business, the success that Wendy’s has can be an inspiration and sample case of how quality two-way engagement can bring a wealth of rewards to brands on social media.
It’s More than Just Timing
When it comes to engaging, it’s also worth reminding that posts are much more robust today than simply a few lines of copy. Posts perform markedly better when accompanied by visual content. The simplest option is usually to include an image or photo that accents your post, but video options can really drive up both your visibility and your engagement. Video is huge right now across the web – not just social media – so investing the time and effort into creating a good video can pay dividends for you in many different ways.
Video can be an even bigger boon on some platforms, such as Facebook. Going on Facebook with a livestreaming video, for example, can push your content out and even trigger notifications on mobile phones for your followers to log on and tune in. This can be a huge benefit if you’re promoting a live event or want to engage in something like a live question-and-answer session or the debut of a new product offering to really drive up your audience and the impact of your social efforts.
OK, I Get It – But When Should I Post?
But you didn’t come here just for tips – you want answers. Cold hard facts. The simple solution to your problem. Bad news – it’s honestly not that simple.
In a review of many different leading social media analyses from some of the leading agencies and social media management utilities, it becomes clear quite quickly that there really is no definitive answer when it comes to post timing. The best times for a B2C business to post might be noon or 1 p.m., while for a B2B business, the better slot is 3-4 p.m., says CoSchedule. Buffer, on the other hand, says 1-3 p.m. is best. Or ask Hubspot, and you’ll get a general suggestion of 9 a.m. and 11 a.m. to noon.
We’ve put together a few of the best examples in an infographic to help you make some informed decisions, but ultimately what is best for you and your brand will come down to the actual hard data. Try scheduling out posts using one of the tools mentioned or another one of your choosing and set posts to publish at different times throughout the week. See how each performs and start putting together a baseline of what days and what time slots seem to be the highest performers. As you do, you can continue testing in the following month to further refine and improve how your posts do and maximize your engagement.
At JFG, our social media team does this every day, working to determine the best strategy for each client on each platform to optimize their performance. If you need help with your social strategy, let us work with you. We offer posting and paid campaign options on all major networks, as well as monitoring and management to help take some of the day-to-day work off your plate. Call us today at 716.433.7688 to discuss your goals and your needs – and, of course, don’t forget to follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn, too.
The following sources were used to complete this article and infographic:
Bringing with him more than a decade of experience in traditional and online news media, digital marketing and content production experience, Ryan Yaeger is the copywriter and digital content strategist at J. Fitzgerald Group. When not busy wordsmithing at his proverbial word anvil or working on client SEO, you can find him testing new board games or cheering for the Bills or Sabres.