There are a heap of posts and infographics floating about the web which detail the best days and times to post to the various social media platforms. Some even have studies and data linked to them, showing the optimum times to get the most engagement and reach when posting on your chosen platform. While these generic guides are helpful - following this advice is better than just posting at random - the one thing I always think is, "Yeah, but..."
You see, generic data can be useful and can provide you with a level of guidance, but the generic audience they're targeting with those times is not your audience. For example, the data might show the best time of day to post to Twitter is 11am on a Thursday, because that's when the majority of users are active - but the specific audience that you want to reach might not necessarily be in that majority. And because of that, it's also possible that the optimum time to reach them might not be 11am on Thursday. Maybe it's a different time, a different day entirely - optimum times can vary significantly from industry to industry and business to business. With this in mind, here are a couple of methods you can use to ascertain the optimum times to reach the audience you really want to reach - your audience (and the audience of your competitors).
How to Locate Your Optimum Time to Post on Facebook
Anyone with a Facebook business page will also have access to Facebook Page Insights. While Insights tracks a tonne of data about your page interactions, this data is sometimes not as clear as you'd like when trying to work out optimum times to post. Enter Fanpage Karma. Fanpage Karma provides detailed analytics on your Facebook page, including helpful charts that show which days, times and post types are best for your audience.
Using this, you can work out what times you should post, and what type of content you should post, to maximise reach, response and engagement, based on your specific business data.
But what if that's not enough? That data might be great, but that doesn't necessarily show you the best times to post, just the best times to post based on your own previous behaviour. What if you're just starting out and you haven't posted enough for that data to be indicative? What if you've only posted at certain times of day, say, morning and night, but maybe, if you posted at midday, that might be better? That won't show up in the data, right? The best way to get around this is to also analyse your competitors.
To do this, you can either look up your competition, based on what you already know, or you can research who your competitors are by looking them up in Google (make sure you search in incognito mode so the search results are not specific to you). Search for the top five keywords or phrases you want/expect people to associate with your brand - you can also enter a location, if your main competitors are local. For each search, note down the top results, then look them up on Facebook and run their pages through Fanpage Karma too.
By doing this, you'll be able to find out not only what's working for you, but also what's working for them. Maybe you'll find that they're getting the best response rate on a certain day and time, maybe you'll find they're getting good responses on days that they're not overly active - using the data provided, you'll be able to formulate a strategy to create a tailored schedule for your brand messages to maximise reach to your existing audience, whilst also targetting the audience of your competitors at the peak times they are online.
How to Locate Your Optimum Time to Tweet
Followerwonk, created by the team at Moz, provides an in-depth follower analysis of any account you choose. If you click on the 'Analyse Followers' tab and enter your Twitter handle (selecting 'analyse their followers' from the drop down), Followerwonk will show you where your followers are (on a world map), how often they re-tweet, what words are most common in their profiles - a whole range of analytical data that can help you make smarter decisions about how you tweet to best reach this audience. Followerwonk also breaks down what times your followers are most active on Twitter, i.e. when they're most likely to see your tweets (note: the lifespan of a tweet is pretty finite, in the scheme of social platforms).
Using this chart, you can create a listing of the optimum times to tweet to maximise reach to your audience.
But what if that's not enough? Just as you can with Fanpage Karma, you can also use Followerwonk to analyse your competitors and work out what times they're likely to get best reach. Enter in the Twitter profiles of your competitors and you'll get the same analytical data, showing when their followers are most active - you can use this to build a schedule that will maximise reach by targeting your audience and the audience of your competition.
How to Locate the Optimum Time to Post on Google+
Timing+ is an application that analyses your Google+ activity and advises the best times to post, based on your posting history. It's a simple, one-page rundown of your activity, and it ranks the best times of day to post based on previous engagement levels (make sure you check the correct timezone at the top of the screen).
But what if that's not enough? All My +, while a fairly simple looking interface, provides analytics of Google+ page activity. On the All My + homepage, instead of signing in with your own profile, you can enter any profile you like into the 'Enter the ID or URL of a Google+ Profile or Page' field. Enter the Google+ URL of your competitor, then, once you have the data on screen, click on the 'Charts' tab. From here, you can use the filters to show posting behaviour by day and time, showing which have been best for re-shares and +1s.
How to Locate the Optimum Time to Post on LinkedIn
Simply Measured provide a free LinkedIn Company Page Analysis report which looks at the previous month of activity from that page. You can use this to determine what day and time is best to post for maximum engagement from your LinkedIn followers (note: the free report is not tailored to your local time zone, it's based on American Pacific Standard Time, so the times advised need to be correlated to your local equivalent).
But what if that's not enough? You can run the same report for any of your competitors and see what's been working for them. LinkedIn also provides a 'Trending Content' section, which shows which days are getting the most traffic for content, by industry sector - this may also help as you develop your posting strategy.
"Hang on, this is a lot of work!"
The reason generic times appeal so much is because it takes time to do this analysis, time that, understandably, many don't have. As with anything in social media, you have to put the time in to get the best results. Following generalised posting guides may work fine - you may even find your specific results correlate - but the only way to know you're hitting the best times for your audience is to do an audit of your profiles and find out the best times, specific to you and your followers. Posting at the right time can make a significant difference - think about how you use each platform and whether you'd see something posted outside the times you're logged on. If there are consistent times when the majority of your users are active, it's worth knowing them to maximise opportunities.
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