In a perfect world, your social connections would be within arm's reach of a smartphone, eagerly anticipating your next post or comment. And, anytime you wrote something brilliant or insightful, there would be multitudes of readers ready to jump in, comment, and add their own thoughts.
In the real world, though, people are busy... no matter how great your idea is. Holidays, heavy work days, and even personal distractions can divert their attention in an instant.
With that I'm mind, let's take a look at a few ways you can use the often cyclical and seasonal nature of social to make your content more attractive and improve your chances of garnering a bigger response:
Pay Attention to the Lifestyle of Your Audience
It's no secret that weekends, summers, and sunny days tend to lure people away from the small screen and into the real world. So it's only natural to expect engagement to drop during those periods. The same could be said of holidays, official or unofficial, which can differ from one region to another.
Along the same lines, most people aren't keyed in that closely to their social accounts during dinner times, or when they have personal business to attend to. Or, at a time when everyone else is posting.
Some of these slow periods can be anticipated better than others, of course, but the bottom line is that we have to adjust our expectations (and analyze the results we get from the content we produce) based on what's happening in the world around us. Don't expect a huge response at a time when most of your connections aren't going to be engaged, and don't get depressed on a particular idea if bad timing is more to blame than poor execution.
Know Your Social Audience
I know from experience that most of my contacts tend to be active on social media throughout the late afternoon and early evening, but are too swamped to read their feeds on a Monday morning. That's when many are in team meetings, or even commuting (depending on the time zone difference).
That's probably true for a lot of different personas, but certainly not all of them. For all the "guidelines" and "rules of thumb" you'll find about when, where, and how often to use your social accounts, nothing beats a good bit of paying attention to your contacts activity levels.
Knowing your audience is one of the most important bits of advice you can get when it comes to creating content. It applies just as well to learning when you should post.
Adjust Your Content Accordingly
Comedians, stage actors, and musicians all perform in front of live audiences. Talk to any of them about their craft, and they'll mention the importance of sensing the "mood of a room."
As a blogger or content creator, you can't benefit from the kind of instant feedback a live performer would, but you can anticipate what might be going on in the minds of your contacts by thinking about the calendar, season, or recent events. And even their personal situations. The more engaged your contacts are, the more likely they'll share important happenings in their lives with you.
For example, I got a huge response from my article "Is Social Media Turning You into a Minimum-Wage Employee?" partly because I released it on a Friday afternoon - a time when I knew many of my followers would be tired from a long week and inundated with tweets and posts. Emotional context + timing = score!
You can do the same with holidays, work periods, and other easy-to-anticipate events if you keep your connections' perspectives in mind.
Integrate Seasonal Thinking into Your Editorial Calendar
As with a lot of things around social engagement, thinking seasonally really comes down to an issue of awareness. The better you know your connections, the better you're going to get at giving them the perfect piece of content at the right time.