Neil Patel

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The Science of Social Timing

The #1 job of any modern marketing plan?

Creating spectacular content.

The best content engages customers and leads, builds relationships, and doesn’t scare people away with aggressive sales tactics.

People want useful, interesting, and helpful sales content. And thankfully, most marketers already know this.

According to 2017-18 data from the Content Marketing Institute, 86% of B2C marketers and 91% of B2B marketers currently use content marketing.

And in our ad-blocking world, content is one of the best methods to get your message in front of as many eyes as possible without resorting to annoying ads.

So if you’re not already in the content game, start using content marketing today.

But along the way, you’ll probably run into a simple problem—when do you share your content for maximum impact?

Every channel has peak times, as well as times when almost none of your potential buyers are online.

Today, you’ll learn when to share the amazing content you’ve created to reach the most people.

Best channels for your content

Let’s start by analyzing the channels you can use for your content.

There is an infinite number of ways you could send your content to potential customers and prospects, but only a few are really worth your time.

But while there’s always new hype about the latest and supposedly greatest ways to share your content, three really dominate the field. Focus on these and you’ll be fine.

The three are email, blogs, and social media platforms. Research shows again and again that these platforms tend to be the most common, most effective, and most visited channels.

Now, chances are you’ve already tried (or are planning on trying) all three of those channels.

But no matter how great your content or which networks and blogs you work on, if you’re not sending it out at the right time, you’re going to struggle.

How to give yourself an extra boost with proper timing

Here’s a little marketing secret you’ll learn once you master the basics of quality content: when you share can be as important as what and where.

Think about it: the internet is a global playground, with people online and browsing for content to consume 24/7.

What you post or send at any given moment will be seen by a very small percentage, with an even smaller percentage actually taking notice of it.

You’ve got to hit publish or send at the opportune moment. Don’t guess about when it’s most likely to have the farthest reach and biggest impact. Know for sure.

For example, the Central and Eastern time zones account for over 80% of the population in the United States.

Publishing to Facebook at 9pm in Los Angeles means it’s midnight on the East Coast. You’re excluding a huge chunk of potential readers.

When they wake up the next moment, your post or tweet is long gone.

Be selective about when you share. You worked hard on it. And they want to see it. Share at the best time on social, email, and your blog.

Correct timing for social media posts

Every network has its own highs and lows. You can use that to your advantage by posting on the right day at the right time to increase your likes, shares, and clicks.

We’ll talk about Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram here.

But you should know that if you’re using a more market-specific platform not included here (say, YouTube or Pinterest) they have their own peak times.

Experiment with different posting times to see what results in the best response for your industry or vertical.

Facebook timing

Facebook is the undisputed king of social media, with billions of members and strong market dominance.

Even if they’ve encountered scandals in the last few years, they still dominate the social media space and likely will for a long time to come.

Of all the networks to take part in, Facebook should probably be on your list. Customers just expect it.

Look, there’s always new data coming out about the “best time” to post on Facebook, but in reality, you can use Facebook’s analytics tool to find out what works best for your audience.

Just log into your Facebook page and select Facebook Page Insights. You can see when your users are most active, what time zone they’re in, and a host of other data.

Schedule sample posts at different times throughout the day, then test and revise.

One tip is to measure weekend engagement differently than weekday engagement. So schedule posts at different times Monday through Friday than on Saturday or Sunday.

Twitter timing

Twitter is another social media platform with a broad user base that spans different industries.

If you’re using Twitter, my best advice is to post on a regular basis. I try to post every hour, seven days a week.

Sure, there might be a peak time to post your most important updates. You can do some research on posts you schedule to see what works best.

But in general, you need to be engaging with people all around the world (and even the night owls where you live) at all times of day and night.

Of course, that’s impossible for a human to do, so use a scheduling tool like Buffer or MeetEdgar to push out tweets, even when you’re asleep.

Instagram timing

Finally, I have a simple tool you can use to improve the times you post on Instagram.

The life expectancy of an Instagram post is longer than Facebook and Twitter combined, though this is gradually changing as there’s more and more content on the platform.

When posting on Instagram, expect to get 50% of your comments within the first 6 hours, and 75% within two days.

The best strategy to posting on Instagram is to use an analytics tool like Iconosquare. With this type of software, you can quickly see where your followers are located.

With that information, send out your posts in the morning in their time zone. When people wake up, they often engage with Instagram first thing in the morning, so target people early.

And of course, you can adjust this depending on when people get up—if you know your audience tends to sleep in, schedule it later in the morning.

The best time to send out an email

Email marketing is the best return-on-investment you can make for your business, with an average return of $44 for every $1 spent according to 2016 data.

And if that’s not enough, email has a higher conversion rate than search and social combined.

Moral of the story? Use email to share your content and engage with your customers and leads.

But if you want to avoid being deleted, overlooked, or ignored, you’ve got to time those precious messages to arrive in the window.

Like all of the suggestions in this article, compare my recommendations with what data applies to your specific industry and the emails you’ve sent out in the past.

But typically, you’ll get a higher engagement rate in the mornings than in the afternoons or evenings. In fact, 10pm-6am is considered a “dead zone” since so few people are on email at night.

Remember, people often read our emails first thing after getting up. So be sure to have an email waiting for someone to read right out of (or even in) bed.

When to post on your blog

Of course, blog articles have the longest lifespan of any of these channels. People still read blog posts that are years old, even when they’d never do that with social media updates.

So, how often should you publish?

According to 2018 data, sites that publish 16+ articles each month drove 3.5x more traffic than those that only published four or fewer monthly posts.

So publish frequently—around every other day or so.

But, as with social and email, when you hit that publish button is important.

Publish during peak times during the day, and you’ll likely see more traffic and more engagement (comments and sharing), but you’ll also face stiffer competition.

Publish during downtimes, like at night, and you’ll face the opposite—fewer competitors for attention, but less traffic overall.

The best time to post can’t really be determined with such simplistic factors without understanding your specific market, but here are some general guidelines.

For maximum traffic, the best time to publish a post is on Monday in the late morning around 11am. The weekend is over and people are looking for something interesting midway through work.

If you’re aiming for comments, though, research suggests that Saturday morning is the best time.

People are just more likely to engage when they’re relaxed and reading on a weekend morning.

And finally if you’re looking for links, early morning publishing can help, and Monday and Thursdays are both great days for this.

But remember—the ultimate strategy to improve your blog readership isn’t to worry too much about posting times.

Since a blog post doesn’t “expire” as quickly as an email or social media post, your focus should be on promotion and sharing through other channels, not just publishing at the right minute.

Conclusion

Most content marketers already know they need to be writing the best content for their audience.

And I’d venture to say most of those marketers also know the best channels to post their content on, whether that’s through email, blogs, or social media.

But many marketers are missing out on the final step: when to post the content. With a deep knowledge of when the peak times are for your audience, you can maximize the impact of everything you write.

Sending out content at the right time is the secret sauce that will give you a leg up over your competitors.

And in the field of internet marketing, small details like communicating with your audience at just the right time can make a big difference.

What times work best with your content schedule?

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