We all know the importance of social media for business growth these days, and naturally much of the discussion focuses on the ‘what’ – what kind of content to put out, what channel to publish on, what tone to take and what language to use. However as we’ve discussed on this blog before, timing is important. There’s no point posting your best information when no one is listening. Getting the ‘when’ of social media marketing right is increasingly central to making the internet work for your business.
While there are some obvious rules to follow to ensure well-timed posts, this can actually be quite a tricky skill to get right each time. There are lots of different theories circulating on the best time to use Pinterest, Twitter and other platforms to contact your customers. Ultimately though, this is going to be different for every company and the key is testing to find out what works for you. Simply doing mailshots, tweets or Facebook posts at a variety of different times can tell you about which time of day and days of the week your audience is ready to engage.
The importance of scheduling
Once you’ve got this information, it’s important to use it wisely. Everyone’s seen the social media feeds that start off extremely active and soon taper out. The best way to avoid this is some careful scheduling. Think of your online marketing plan like a cleaning schedule; you want to ensure coverage of every site and upkeep needs to be regular, making a methodical, pre-planned approach is key. Designating a timeframe then plotting a plan for your content yields the best results, especially when designed using data about when your clients are most active.
Just as having a cleaning schedule doesn’t prevent you from doing ad hoc work when needed, pre-planning your internet presence doesn’t mean ignoring events and customer feedback. Interacting with your audience is vital to building a trusted relationship. Work this into your timetable by setting aside time to answer questions and designate days on which you’ll look for current event ‘hooks’ around which to build your subject matter.
Scheduling also helps you manage your own time on social media and enables you to evaluate how much the company is getting back for what you and your employees are putting in. After your schedule has been implemented for two or three months, check for correlations between social media interaction and sales. Can you quantify the worth of your internet work for your business? Doing so will help you designate the right amount of time to spend on a certain social media channel, and tell you which channels are bringing no return and should be left out the next time you’re forward planning.
How to get the timing of your posts right
There are various platforms that can implement schedules, especially when you’ve identified a good time for a post which happens to fall when you won’t be online. Many programmes allow you to build up a stock of ready-to-go tweets, messages, videos and photos to help engage current or potential customers in a constant, steady manner. You can monitor the order of these posts to ensure they follow sequentially and set the exact time for each to go out.
Some applications also have options for automatic scheduling, where the programme itself will decide the ideal time to publish. These use algorithms to work out the optimum moment, analysing statistics about the intended platform and target audience. They can also help to stagger the posts so that they appear a few minutes apart on Facebook and YouTube, for example. This makes sure that your most loyal followers who are attached to both don’t get bombarded with the same information from two places at once.
For the posts you do manually, think about the different groups of people you want to reach and the different times they will be online. Businesses are increasingly distinguishing between their passive audience – those who’ll just read your post or maybe click a link – and ‘key networkers’: organisations or individuals most likely to retweet, share and mention your post. Timing messages which will appeal specifically to the latter group when they’re most likely to be online can prove a big boost to developing your web-presence.
So, remember to think of your approach to timing like a cleaning schedule – planned for full coverage, but flexible enough to respond to unexpected events. The ‘when’ of online marketing is so easily neglected compared to the ‘what’, that focusing on this can ultimately give your business the edge.