If location is everything in real estate, timing is everything in online marketing. You don’t want to send your latest blog post or social media update off into the void when no one is paying attention.
Many studies have been conducted to try to figure out the best days and best times to send out messages online. Buffer collected a lot of the information that is available and took a close look at it, comparing different studies to each other. The upshot was that they found that study results often conflicted.
Too much depends on who your specific audience is, as different groups of people have different online usage habits. For the most accurate and useful data, you should systematically test the waters yourself to find out when your own audience is most engaged.
The study results, even if not definitive for all audiences, provide a great place to start developing a plan for your own testing. Let’s sift through the tea leaves and see what they reveal.
The Best Time to Blog
If you want the highest traffic, publish your blog posts before lunch — 70 percent of people surveyed said they read blogs in the morning, according to KISSmetrics, with 11 a.m. being the most popular time. Monday is the best day for traffic, but Thursday is the best day for social sharing. Men read blogs at night more often than women do.
There’s an interesting paradox here, though, because posting at the times of highest traffic is not always the best strategy. KISSmetrics points out that there is a trade-off. If you post when traffic for blogs is at its highest, you will get more readers, but the impact of your blog can get lost in the shuffle, as you have to compete with other blogs for your readers’ attention. If you post during less busy times, while your traffic may be lower, your posts have more of a chance to stand out, without all the background noise of other blogs pulling your readers away, That can make your readers more engaged and more likely to leave comments, and it could make your bounce rate go down.
The best way to gauge the impact of Facebook posts is to look at measurements of user engagement, such as commenting, sharing, and click-throughs. One study found that users were most engaged with Facebook on Thursdays and Fridays — maybe because they were wishing that they were done with work for the week. Another study, though, found that Facebook engagement was 32 percent higher on weekends. In general, items posted in the early afternoon got the most attention, while those posted after dinner got the least.
As always, you have to consider your specific audience. Are the people you most want to reach likely to be looking for distractions from work? Or are they more likely to spend time engaging with your posts and updates when they are relaxing at home? The answers to those questions will give you an idea about whether your posts are more likely to be effective on weekends or during the week.
Mashable reports that the best time to tweet a link that you want to be retweeted is between 1:00 and 3:00 in the afternoon early in the week, with Monday being the best. The worst time is after 3:00 Friday afternoon or after 8:00 in the evening on any day.
Many people access Twitter with their mobile devices. Those that do were most likely to be using Twitter during their commute and at work or school.
Just as studies were conflicted about whether weekdays or weekends were the best times to post on Facebook, studies were conflicted on the same question with respect to Twitter. Buffer says that one study showed Twitter engagement was 17 percent higher on weekends, while another showed it was 14 percent higher on weekdays. Again, knowing about the habits of your specific audience, or discovering their habits by measuring the impact of tweets sent at different times, is the key.
One thing that makes a significant difference in the weekday versus weekend question is whether the tweets are being sent business-to-business or business-to-consumer. Adweek’s SocialTimes blog found that business-to-business tweets did 14 percent better on weekdays, while business-to-consumer tweets did 17 percent better on weekends.
Best Time for Email
People tend to read their emails most often in the early morning, during lunch, in the early afternoon and early evening, and after dinner. The worst time to send out emails is between 10 in the evening and 6 in the morning.
Other Social Media
SocialTimes found the best days to post on LinkedIn are Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. The sweet spot that is best of all is Tuesday at 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. The best time for Pinterest is Saturday evening from 8:00 to 11:00, and the best days for Google+ are weekdays, with traffic peaking at 9 a.m. on Wednesdays.
While the Internet runs 24/7, your posts and social media updates will do better at some times than at others. To figure out when that would be, you have to consider both the types of messages you are sending and the habits of your particular audience. In general, business-to-business communications seem to do best during working hours, while business-to-consumer items can best reach people when they are off of work. People may look at email before they leave the house, then look at Twitter during their commute, and at Facebook in the afternoon. Testing your own audience is the best way to fine-tune your timing, which may be a hassle, but is worth it for the rewards — increased user engagement, greater visibility, and, ultimately, more sales.