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The Science of Timing: Social Media

April 19 2011

socialnetworkingHow many times a day or week should you tweet?

Do you know what time of day is best for tweeting?

What about posting on Facebook?

Does it matter?

The answer is simple: social media is not a haphazard activity anymore. It has evolved into a science.

If you are interested in promoting yourself and your business online, it is well worth your time to invest in learning some of the research behind what social media gurus are calling the "science of timing."

HubSpot social media scientist Dan Zarrella discussed his research on timing.

He has conducted research on the Internet for the last 2-3 years. Of all the subjects he researches, the science of timing is the number one piece of data consumers want to know. He researches and identifies best practices.

This webinar presents all the data to date that Zarrella has studied. It covers three marketing mediums businesses use for inbound marketing: social media, email, and blogging.

This article focuses on social media specifically.

The fundamental foundation of Zarrella's findings is that marketers should be aware of how people behave online and leverage this. He calls this contra-competitive timing.

If, using the example of a cocktail party, when is it hardest to have a conversation with someone? When the party is hopping, and everyone is trying to talk over the noise to be heard. This is one reason why when you meet someone you find interesting, the conversation often continues outside or at a different location. That's where the best connection is made: away from the noise. But don't forget, it all started at the networking party.

Let's take that analogy and apply it to social media.

Social media is loud, in terms of digital noise. But there are times of the day where the traffic is surging and status' and tweets flood in. It's easy to miss those important updates because no sooner is a tweet launched into cyber space, than it is buried in your Twitter feed amongst any number of tweets. Just like the cocktail party, if you are using social media to network you have to be strategic on when to make that introduction and engage in a meaningful conversation.

The best time in a cocktail party to be heard is when it's quieted down. This is the point with marketing. Be strategic. Be heard. Learn when social networks quiet down, and make your move when the highest number of people can hear your message.

Twitter Timing Highlights

1.) Re-tweets

Best time? The best time to tweet so as to maximize the number of re-tweets is later in the day, between 1-4pm daily.twitter retweet per hr

Best day? Later in the week is better for re-tweets.

2.) Click Through Rates (CTR)

Best time? CTRs are pretty steady by the hour and do not decline at night.

Best day? Zarella found that there was not too much variation of click through rates per day. Saturday and Sundays don't have a dip in click through rates. Saturday and Sundays are just as high. The takeaway here is don't be afraid of posting over the weekend.

How many tweets are too many? Don't be afraid to tweet too much. According to the below graph, you can tweet about 22 times a day.

twitter per day

You won't annoy someone with too many tweets today because most people follow over 100 Twitter accounts. It would take a lot to flood someone's stream.

Can you tweet about the same piece of content multiple times? Yes. Zarella recommends that you tweet a link and then wait about 2 hours before tweeting about the same blog post. He recommends that you switch up the wording of your message. Simply pull a new quote out of the blog post, add the link and tweet.

Does the frequency of my tweets matter if I am seeking to become a recognized source of information? Yes.

twitter per hr

If you want to tweet links to become a source of information, then tweet 1-2 times per hour. If you are tweeting links from your site, then post once and stop for a while. Let your personal content breathe.

Facebook Posting Highlights

1.) Frequency of Posts

How frequently can I post to Facebook? Different than Twitter, it is a lot easier to overwhelm people's news feeds on Facebook. Zarella found that Facebook pages that posted every other day had more likes. You have to be more careful on Facebook. Don't crowd your content.

2.) Facebook Shares

What days get the most Facebook shares?

The volume of stories posted on Facebook is lower in the weekend, however the Facebook sharing on those links spikes on the weekends.

FB shares per day

One reason could be that 51% of American companies block Facebook at work. Another reason could be contra-competitive timing; it is quieter on the weekends, so people are listening better. The takeaway here is that weekends are best for Facebook sharing.

What time?

The most successful links posted to Facebook pages were between 1am-3am in the morning and late at night.

Fb shared by hr

Time Zone Consideration

One last tip: In terms of taking into consideration time zones in your message/status timing, plan for Eastern Time Zone. This time zone is overwhelmingly more dense as far as population is concerned.

Why does that matter?

If you have a national or global brand, live on the West Coast and want to engage the highest number of working professionals early in the morning, don't post at 7am PST. This is 10am EST and your target audience has already gone to work, where their social networks are likely to be blocked. Now your message is buried. If you want to target consumers at 7am their time, post at 4am PST so it goes out at 7am EST and is one of the first messages they check on their way to work no matter the coast.

If this subject matter is interesting to you, consider signing up for the next HubSpot marketing webinar. To learn more about HubSpot, click hereclick here.

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