fallen tree by slimmer_jimmer on flickr

For many, social media is something we dip in and out of throughout the course of a day; a quick five minutes on Facebook here, a couple of tweets there, a blog post whenever we can spare the time.

Though for those of us looking to use social media as a marketing tool, it’s worth thinking about exactly when you post that all-important blog or share your most valuable links on Twitter.

By looking at exactly when your getting the most responses from your social media output, you’ll be able to develop a much more effective strategy by saving your messages for times when they’re likely to be seen by the most people.

If a tree falls on Facebook…

If you’re managing social media on behalf of the company you work for example, this might mean taking time outside the normal 9-5 office hours to manage your social media platforms.

When your followers are also busy with 9-5 jobs and thus not actively engaging with social media, isn’t it better to find a time when they are engaged, and reaching out to them at that time instead?

There’s an old saying which could equally apply to social media:

If a tree falls in a forest and there’s nobody around to hear it, does it make a sound?

Likewise, if a post goes out on Facebook and there’s nobody around to see it, does it make an impact?

The research

Experts, gurus and their ilk have invested some time and effort into experimenting with the most effective times to distribute content and engage with audiences.

Most of that research reaches the simple consensus that the two most effective times to use social media for marketing purposes are noon and early evening.

This writer would also argue based on personal experience that early mornings between 7-9am can also produce effective results.

When you think about it, this makes sense.

People are scanning their Twitter feeds for interesting news over a morning coffee before they knuckle down to work, reading blog posts during their lunch break or catching up with friends on Facebook once they’re home from the office.

By making sure you’re distributing your most valuable content and talking to your followers at these times, you’re likely to achieve better results than you would at times when there’s nobody around.

Joining in discussions

It isn’t just the time of day that plays a part in your social media success; looking at days, weeks, or popular events when people are talking about your subject area can also yield positive results.

Drawing on personal experience again, when tasked with raising the profile of a local sports event via Twitter, this writer found the most success engaging with sports fans when the local soccer team were playing their biggest games.

Similarly, promoting an upcoming concert via Twitter when the star artist was the subject of a TV feature also had a bigger impact than at other times.

What’s your game plan?

Don’t just take my word for this; it may well be that your audience is most active at a completely different time than any mentioned above.

The key is to take a look at your own social media use and draw up a game plan.

Use your analytics tools to find out when you’re generating the most traffic, monitor when discussions are at the highest and use tools such as Tweetwhen.com, which analyzes your last 1000 tweets to determine what days and times you get the most retweets.

Maybe you could draw up a list of events, such as the soccer games I mentioned earlier, when discussions in your field are likely to be at their highest, and experiment with the effectiveness of getting involved.

Put some effort into working out when your social media is most effective and ensure that when your tree falls in that big social media forest, there are people around to hear it.

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