At best a frustration, at worst a brand-killer – the issue of miss-timed social media posts is known to us all. Brand promotion in an online world will succeed or fail based in no small part on the chosen hour of posting. This is no simple science, not least because the solution for one may not be the solution for all. Nonetheless, here are a trio of universal tips on how to understand the market and determine the best time to post and share on social media, as well as two alternative approaches to social media marketing.
1) Know your audience.
If you are sharing posts about a product or event, you already have a target group in mind. Alternatively, if you are seeking to raise brand awareness, determine who in particular you are aiming your marketing towards. Consider the online habits of this target market. When will they be online? When will they likely be willing and able to spend 30 seconds/a minute/five minutes of their precious time investigating your brand? Will they enjoy regular content, or sporadic, unscheduled content? Difficult, but essential, questions like these may initially seem unanswerable, which leads to the second vital tip.
2) Use your analytics.
The questions of tip 1) do not need to ponder in the dark. Many social media platforms provide a means to see the demographics, location and, crucially, peak activity times of your viewership. Tedious as it may seem, being well acquainted with these statistics is a highly useful tool. Though not infallible, these analytical tools make both honing in on the true (as opposed to desired) target audience, and developing a posting/sharing schedule to suit them, much easier. If, for instance, the target market is Bet365-obsessed students, statistics will show that late-afternoon and evening posts are most well-received, whereas a 30-something working a 9-5 job might check social media once in the early morning and again on coming home. This is a painstaking process, firstly because it relates to people, who are (unfortunately) changeable, and secondly, because it requires a significant investment of time. As such, the third tip is a more general one.
3) Be patient and persevere.
Utterly indispensable to any social media marketing endeavour is a persevering nature, an ability to play the long game. Be patient in observing and tailoring to the target market. Especially for a start-up brand, simply plugging away is important; you may have to endure for a while before you find the correct posting/sharing formula for your desired audience. Use the tools at your disposal and carefully watch for trends; be prepared that this may take time.
Alongside this on-going commitment to understanding the market and cater to it, any brand must consider one of two options in their social media marketing strategy. Will the brand observe and adapt to the market? Or will it observe and boldly shape the demand of the market?
Using the three tips above, it might easily be assumed that the only solution to finding the perfect sharing hour is to adapt to the whims of the target audience. Indisputably, catering to the apparent target market is a legitimate tactic. By basing your sharing times on statistics, you follow a safer, and possibly more predictable, pattern. But it is also entirely possible, with much persistence and high saturation of posting/sharing, to follow another course: to shape the online habits of the target market.
Particularly suitable for event-based marketing, but possibly also advantageous for product releases, for instance, this second tactic is certainly more risky, but can be highly successful. The principle is to create a significant buzz around the event/product/post in question in advance of posting it, and also prominently publishing the intended post-/share-time. Generate excitement about the release and people will be compelled to align their online schedule with your own. Again, a thorough knowledge of the target market is required, as is a great deal of patience, so that you do not alter your posting/sharing hour to such an extent that the entire audience is lost. It would be useless, for instance, to persistently advertise a posting in the middle of the day when no one is able to view it! However, using knowledge of demographics to pick an appropriate time and then generating the necessary hype is a sure-fire way to reduce the frustration of miss-timing and improve brand reach.
Whichever tactic you opt for, the crucial underlying principle is: only by knowing the target market is it possible to find the perfect posting/sharing formula.