Tricks of the marketing trade

The marketing sector can be a complicated place as new marketing tools and techniques are launched, almost on a weekly basis. Powered by The Drum Network, this regular column invites The Drum Network's members to demystify the marketing trade and offer expert insight and opinion on what is happening in the marketing industry today that can help your business tomorrow.

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When is the best time to post on social media?

Exactly when is the best time to post on social media and your website? It’s definitely a question that we think of when we create our content. From developing your social media posts to adding to your blog page online, we invest valuable time in producing great captivating pieces that we hope results in shareable content. Which is why understanding the best times to post online can help drive performance level.

So, where do we start? Firstly, understanding your audience is key. As this changes across each network, knowing when to get maximum reach in front of your demographic will help decipher peak activity times.

Let’s break it down across each network.

Best times to post on Facebook

With more than 1.49 billion daily active users, Facebook can be a great tool for your brand if you discover your audience tends to ‘hang out’ there when they are online. With users accessing the network both on mobile and desktop, at work and at home, it’s definitely worth using.

How can your brand reach its audience effectively? With the newest updates, the Facebook algorithm means that users are seeing less business content and more from friends and family. However, starting conversations is the way to get noticed, and will result in better engagement and brand awareness for you. So when do you post to get this conversation started?

What we can take away from the data represented in this casestudy is that the best time to post on Facebook are Wednesday at noon and 2pm, as well as Thursday at 1pm and 2pm.

Engagement levels tend to drop around the weekend and more users aren’t online. Weekdays seem to be the safest times to post. 

Planning your timing around your audience is also key, for example, does your brand cater for parents? It’s worth factoring in school times, as their hours of availability will differ. With school runs lasting between 8 - 9am in the morning, to after school runs between 3 - 3.30pm it might be better to avoid times of the day when your audience will potentially be busy. To avoid drops in reach and engagement try to avoid times of the day that conflict with these hours – be sure to avoid times of the day your audience is likely to not be online, especially if it's paid advertising. It’s imperative to figure out what your audience is likely to be doing when you’re thinking of scheduling posts. Timing it half an hour later or before will make all the difference when it comes to impressions, views and engagement. 

Best time to post on Instagram

A platform designed for mobile use and visual content, Instagram is easily digestible and convenient for users. The added feature of Instagram shoppable links, makes this the place to post, if you want to see users click through to your products (if you are an eCommerce business).

However, the Instagram algorithm is also constantly changing, so it is difficult to predict if your content will reach your desired audience as feeds aren’t in chronological order and is dependent on how much the user interacts with your content (e/g comments and likes). So how do you reach out in the best possible way?

As data suggests the safest times to post are Tuesday through to Friday 9am to 6pm. Weekends are a good time to post, with more social engagements happening, people are likely to use it throughout their days off, and therefore see your content.

Another thing to remember is fitting in your scheduling within the wider calendar and thinking about the impact of seasonality such as New Year, Christmas, Easter and school holidays – this is especially important if your sector has a seasonal ‘busy’ period.

Planning around those all-important micro-moments for your audience, will optimise your chances of targeting people when they need it. For example, a good tip if you’re a travel brand is to consider utilising a visual platform like Instagram during the winter months - the post-Christmas blues is real, and consumers are usually more likely to book a holiday then. So tempt them with some fabulous images of hot beach hols, when they are most likely to need it!

This principle can apply to many sectors - do some research, and check your own traffic stats and find out when your users are most likely to need you. Then plan your visual cues to users accordingly around this.

Best time to post on Twitter

When it comes to Twitter, it is a little different as it is totally audience dependent. It funnels everything and acts like reading material used during times like commuting and breaks, etc. So, this is similar to Facebook in the way that it is user dependent.

Hubspot takes a further look into this, suggesting weekdays have a stronger performance rate than on the weekend. With noon, 3pm or 5-6pm being strong to maximise retweets and clickthroughs.

Do you factor in time zones? For those of you who have audiences outside of the UK, demographic research is important to understand where your audience is based. Giving you the opportunity to target their time zones appropriately. If your audience is primarily in the U.S then you will need to think about Eastern Time Zone and Central Time Zone. This is where multiple social accounts come in handy, as they are based depending on location. For example, Ryan Air have multiple Twitter accounts based on language and location such as Ryan Air Spain and Italy. 

Best time to post on LinkedIn

LinkedIn, is for working professionals who tend to use it around working hours, 9-11am, morning commutes and midday breaks are when most users seem to engage. As the world's largest professional network, helping advocate and share useful career tips, it is an important platform to use, especially if you are a B2B brand.

The best days to post are Tuesday through to Thursday, with engagement rates dropping around the weekend. People prefer to scroll their feeds during the week, so focus on these days to get optimum visibility. 

Conversely, if you are looking specifically to target higher management, then they may actually have more time to scroll their professional feed at the weekend. If you are trying to engage them, a personable private message at the weekend might get more of their attention, instead of during a busy work week.

Lessons learned

When thinking about the best times to post there are many other considerations to include:

  • Target demographic;
  • Industry you’re in;
  • Purpose for using social media;
  • Content engagement – engaging with your audience and posts;
  • Creating quality content - don’t just create for algorithms, remember you are always catering for your audience who are real people.

The best times to post does differ depending on brand. So, it is important to analyse your own data using Google Analytics, and the data provided on each platform (most social platforms have some level of analytics now!). Find the times that work for you, and keep track as network algorithms and audience habits change.

Farah Hussain is a senior PR executive at Zazzle Media

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