Posting at the right time on your social media channels is an integral component to your social plan. Sending content out into the abyss is pretty pointless, unless you’re confident that your audience is either there to absorb it, or alternatively that the content can be found at a later time.
Let’s focus on the first point.
Posting at times that are convenient to you
It sounds logical, doesn’t it? It’s the convenient time for you, so why wouldn’t you post then? Well if it’s not the convenient time for your audience then we’re really back to square one.
Sharing at times when your audience aren’t online is like playing football in front of an empty stadium
The very nature of setting a schedule for a football game is so everyone knows when, and where that game will be played. Fans can make arrangements to be there, and the players have people there to cheer them on. The idea behind social is very similar.
Our fans, followers, advocates and supporters are wanting to engage with our content – they want to be able to cheer us on. But if they’re busy, they’ll miss it; especially on fast-paced platforms like Twitter (algorithmic timelines notwithstanding). So, we make a schedule – we plan when the best times to ‘perform’ are.
We engage with our audience.
Scheduling your content
It makes sense that once you know what you want to say, and when you want to say – that you schedule it. Using the range of great tools that are out there, you can load content that you have created, and choose the time to make it live – and boom – it does it for you.
This could be useful for logistical reasons – perhaps you have content of interest to an international audience, but you don’t to stay up until 2am each night. Or perhaps more likely, you’re just busy doing whatever it is you do (unless you’re a social media management agency), so you aren’t on social at these times.
For example, a quick look on Google reveals a whole bunch of articles that claim to know the best (read: busiest) time to Tweet, let’s take an arbitrary average of 8pm. You could organise your day around that, or you could just schedule your content to be published at that time. This is about making a better experience for your followers, and making it easier on you.
Aren’t you supposed to be ‘live’ on social?
You are. You should. You will.
This is not about only scheduling content, that would create quite a sterile environment. And it’s worth noting that there’s a huge difference between scheduling, and automation. Automation is arbitrarily posting something without influence from you (your timeline can support a degree of this, but should be overwhelmingly ‘human’ – for example, you could ‘automate’ your blog posts to automatically be Tweeted).
Scheduling is taking the content that you have written – words from your amazing brain – and changing the time they go live. This is to suit your audience.
Imagine if a broadcast network (TV) didn’t schedule shows around when people were mostly available. Not only that, but the right people. Shows are scheduled to coincide with when certain people are likely to watch certain shows (day time television is targetted to people who are likely to be at home, evening to a broader market, and late night/early hours would seem to cater for people in urgent need of a new set of steak knives).
If you have a golden idea, and it’s 1am – you’re highly unlikely to reach [m]any of your desired audience with a Tweet at that time. So instead, you throw it into a scheduling tool and it will go out at the right time.
Related: Our social media courses can help you implement these practices for your business
How do I find out the best time to post for my audience?
There’s some great tools that can either tell you, or even just take care of the scheduling for you.
For the Facebook Page owner, this can be immensely useful. Seeing when your audience is actually present, on the network, dramatically increases the chances of your content ending up in front of them. To see this, navigate to your Page on Facebook > Insights > Posts
Buffer works by calculating what your schedule is for each network, based on where you are (which timezone you’re in). It will propose those times to you, and you can add, edit or remove as you see fit.
A feature that I love is that you can set a schedule per network (so you may want to post 6 times a day to Twitter, but 2 to Facebook).
While Hootsuite does have a manual scheduler – you can use this to choose any time you like; I think one of it’s strongest advantages is the Autoscheduler. Setting the ‘goalposts’ for your social schedule will give the framework for you strategic times (for example, you say that you want to post 4 times a day, between 8am and 7pm Monday – Friday, and the Autoscheduler will find the ‘best’ times within those times to schedule content. This is done algorithmically by checking your followers, and when they’re online.
As it currently stands, the Autoscheduler has a blanket scheduler for all social profiles (so using the above will send 4 posts to Twitter and Facebook and LinkedIn…you get the idea).
All of these tools/practices either are, or involve, an aspect of research. You must know your audience, you need to do a little digging around first, and then complement that knowledge with the techniques I’ve discussed here. The reason is, there’s simply not one ‘cookie cutter’ approach where we can just look at a whole network and say “Boom…posting at 10am will guarantee success”.
But we do know certain standards. For example, Facebook’s general audience tends to be more active on an evening. Traffic tends to be high midweek, and engagement tends to be higher toward the end of the working week. This will probably be [in part] true for you, but businesses differ – consumer, business-to-business, they will have a different aspect of interest to their audience and therefore times that those individuals will be online.