It’s no secret that social media has transformed the lives of billions of people.
It’s changed how we interact with others, how we find information, and yep, how we waste time.
Most of us use social media on a daily basis, and for better or worse it’s having a tremendous impact on our lives. In fact, “super social media users” spend a reported 10-12 hours online each day, surfing their favorite sites.
One of the great benefits of social media is that it’s made us aware of the multiple options that exist online, giving us the power to research alternatives. Marketing on social media is a goldmine of potential, enabling you to literally reach anyone at any time.
Of course, the downside to this ease of access is that social media platforms today are saturated. There’s a lot of noise out there and a lot of brands competing for attention. If you’re trying to get started with social media today, you need a way to ensure that your messages stand out.
The question is how?
It’s important not only to post the right messages on the right platform but to do so at a strategic moment when people want to see that message.
It all comes down to how well your message resonates with your audience, along with how well that message is timed.
It’s a science of timing combined with the art of communication. We’ll look at both of these things now.
Social Media: Best Times
First up, you’ll want to select your key markets based on time zones.
Large social media sites can target all the major population centers for an entire region, enabling you to reach just about anyone. Now, at this stage you’ll need to select the region and markets that you’ll want to target. You’ll also need to have your brand message and promotional content drafted up.
Clearly you need a story that stands out based on your market profile and the platform-audience you select. Focus on building your brand, not just selling products.
So go through the audience profiles for each of the major social media platforms. This will help you to target your message. Then add the best time of day to post, when the most users are online to create the basis of your communication strategy.
Unsurprisingly, each social media platform has what’s known as ‘the best times to post’. This timing depends on the user base and their patterns of usage.
So for Facebook, with 2.45 billion monthly active users, they know when each time zone lights up at the beginning of the day, they know how users in each country are online, and they know the frequency of their posts and reading patterns. That’s a lot of marketing information right there.
Ultimately, you’ll need to decide your platform, timing, and a single clear and powerful message. You’ll then adjust for time zones based on the selected markets and build your campaign.
Below are some states for you to look at.
These times are based on data from a number of the main social media platforms.
Naturally, variation exists for best posting times in different time zones and regions And of course, it depends which company is running the numbers, and how you view the data. And don’t forget that there’s also an optimal time of day for different industries.
Still, Coschedule did a fantastic job with their data, as they took a number of different studies into account.
Here’s a look at some insight into each platform:
Keys to Each Platform
- Facebook has a very broad user base, with close social ties between friend groups. For marketers, Facebook is better at promoting lifestyle and consumer goods aimed at seasonal vacations, gadgets, technology, and travel aimed at 18-44 age group.
- Instagram has a slightly younger, more image-conscious user base. They post their lifestyles following the social calendar. So getting your post-times to work with the rhythm of user evenings-out. They then often repost in the morning and after weekends, uploading content after their time-away from work.
- LinkedIn is for professionals and is ideal for B2B marketing. It’s a site where people check for useful messages early in the day and late afternoon and stay on-site mainly during the work week.
- Pinterest’s audience is largely women, though it’s growing in popularity with men too. It’s an image sharing network where users post ideas on a wide range of topics.
- Twitter is a micro-news site with users who follow the early morning news cycle and follow-up in the late afternoon. It’s great if your brand has news value or your messages are targeted towards recent trends.
What used to cost tens of thousands of dollars—professional marketing services—is now in your hands. You supply the brand story, while digital platforms supply the technology to get your message out.
This puts you in charge, but also brings marketing back into your business as a key skill and activity.
As the great management guru Peter Drucker said in The Practice of Management, the purpose of every business is both innovation and marketing. If you are not the marketer, find somebody who is. A freelancer, a consultant, a contractor, or a talented member of your workforce. You or they will need to focus on the art of messaging, branding, channelling, and response to best effect your business goals to people outside the business.
Tools to Time Your Posts
One of the best ways to ensure your posts go out at the right times is by using social media tools that are available to help.
There are a number of tools out there that can help you to time your posts with accuracy to the right audience. Plus they allow you to schedule your posts, meaning you can batch up your posts for the week and then schedule them to go live at the date and time of your choosing.
All these social media marketing services offer free trial periods of 15-30 days, so my advice is to test each platform for free to see which one suits you best.
If you can run a mini-test campaign effectively, you’ll also be able to gain some data. These will be limited, because the free packages generally limit your audience reach to incentivize you to sign-up.
- Hootsuite is a well-known social marketing tool. Its special feature is scheduling posts to social media platforms. You take out a monthly marketing package, which starts at $25 although boosting charges rise if you want to advertise on the Hootsuite platform. These can rise steeply, but you do get the reach that they promise for your messages.
- Buffer aims its social media posting service at small and medium businesses. Buffer has an easy-to-use interface that allows users to schedule their posts to all main social media platforms and also see their basic analytics. Billing is monthly at $65 per month for up to 8 social accounts, 2,000 scheduled posts, and two users.
- Sprout is a fully-integrated social platform marketing solution aimed at businesses of all sizes. It manages your social marketing on a one-stop-shop basis where you can research or ‘listen’ to your audience, plan campaigns, publish your messaging, and test audience reaction. Monthly charges start around $99, while you get a more robust service for the price.
Test, Test, and Retest
Now, hopefully you have a rhythm for your social media marketing. This is contained in the five steps to timing your social media posts below:
- Select your product to appeal to your target group—it’s essential to get this right because this is always the key to gaining participation in your campaign.
- Target your audience with the right message at the right time of day, whatever the time zone. That might mean multiple messages, which affects cost but should be tested.
- Confirm your platform by employing its free service first, and ask for case histories that cover your market, audience, and user profiles. Even use multiple free accounts to try different paths for getting your message across.
- Time your messages and posts, knowing that the costliest times to run ads on social media is when they are busiest. Start small, don’t be tempted to blow your budget on one-time posts—try a variety of time and channels instead.
- Test and retest to see what’s working. Track your analytics to discover what’s resonating with your audience. Then do more of what’s working.
- Now repeat. It will probably take a while to get the mix of brand message, audience selection and offer, channel, and response all working smoothly as a package. The upside is substantial though, enormous marketing reach to large audiences that could drive your business for years.
You have to remember the best marketers always use effort finding the best media to reach their audience. It also takes more time than they might wish to refine their message to best suit the audience.
Sometimes it takes many tries, but once these two come into alignment your marketing department will be able to generate some serious results.
Timing Is Everything
The value of social media to your business is defined by how well you’re able to get your message out. How well you’re able to compete with other messages, and how well your message resonates with your intended audience.
Each business must find its own rhythm for messaging on the key social media platforms that deliver results for them.
Finally, while timing matters a lot, it’s also crucial that you get your message right. Whether you’re sharing content or running an ad campaign, start by identifying your target audience, then tailoring your message to speak to them. You’ll also want to make sure your message format is ideal for the platform itself. For example, Instagram is an image-sharing platform, so make sure your content is visual. Likewise with Pinterest; infographics, images, and other visual content do well here. For Facebook, make sure you’re sharing content that’s easy to engage with. Ask questions, spark discussions, and include visual elements in your posts. Link to studies or fascinating blog articles. Don’t just share links directly to your website. Observing best practices like these can make a world of difference between your social media content resonating with your audience, and it falling flat.
Finally, if you need some assistance, reach out to us. Professionals are the difference between your message reaching millions of active users or getting lost in the continuous wave of social media posting. A solid team behind you can help to make a world of difference to your social media strategy.
Good luck, it’s a jungle out there!
If you’d like help navigating the often-confusing world of social media, and ensuring that your social media strategy is generating results, we can help. At Carrier Pigeon, we’re content distribution experts, and can help your content to go further. Whether it’s posting on social media, or helping it to rank higher, our team has what it takes to give your content an edge. Reach out today to get started!
Also see: Social media ad platforms: a comparison.