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How to Reassess Your Social Media Engagement

Social media engagement isn't an exact science. As you measure your engagement efforts, consider all the variables of being human and interacting with other humans. The core aspects of social media engagement involve human beings, and many variables can affect the interactions between people online, such as

  • The time of day: You'll reach different people in different parts of the country or world depending on the time of day you post.

  • The time zone: If you are trying to reach your community "in the morning," this could mean posting during your afternoon to reach someone in an earlier time zone.

  • The day of the week: Every social network reports that their members use their service more frequently on specific days and usage patterns vary from network to network.

  • A person's mood: Not every message you post will be interesting to someone, and there are factors in an individual's day that can make them more or less receptive to your message.

  • A person's attention span: Any of your posts might be too long or too complicated for some people.

  • The level of information overload: If someone is overwhelmed by their social network news feeds, they may tune out your message.

You will eventually, and inevitably, see the ebb and flow of your engagement reflected in your social media engagement statistics. Though you may be tempted to panic whenever you reach the end of a day with low engagement, be wise and look at data over the longer term, not simply during a single day or even a week.

Look for trends in the engagement numbers, and read online reports about engagement trends on each social network and platform you use to interact with the audience. Don't hold too strictly to the trends you read about — not all trend reports provide consistent figures. Use trends as food for thought, and then test the ones that seem relevant to you and your audience.

An example of inconsistent trend reporting is demonstrated by the difference between URL shortener bit.ly stating that you should post to Facebook between 1 and 4 p.m. eastern time and especially Wednesdays at 3 p.m. eastern time on Facebook but Buddy Media, on the other hand, stating that Wednesday is the worst day to post and that weekends are better. Who's right?

You have to read the entire reports to understand their methodologies. The more important answer is that the ideal posting time depends on your company and your audience.

Pay attention to your own brand's social media engagement trends to see how your particular audience reacts to your posts in social media. Map out optimal posting times, but remain flexible and ready to shift based on the response of your audience over time.

Danielle has found mornings between 8 and 11 eastern time to be the time when people are most responsive to her online, but it's more than the time of day that matters — it's also the day of the week. Mondays are more active for her than Saturdays.

Aliza discovered inadvertently that her random tweets after work hours draw an attentive and responsive audience as do later-night tweets around 10 p.m. eastern time. Exploring this trend further, she found that many of her followers who respond at those times are from Australia and New Zealand.

What works this month may not work well next month, because of variables that may be beyond your control. Even a slight tweak by Facebook to the display of your Facebook Page updates in other people's news feeds can throw off your previous communications rhythm.

Because of all the shifts and changes in the tools you use for social media engagement, you must measure consistently and over long stretches to get the information you need to continually improve how you engage online. Above all, be consistent but flexible to adapt to the constantly changing online landscape.

Don't stress over the numbers as you watch them increase and decrease. These changes are commonplace. Don't let declines bring you down. As in the stock market, your social media engagement numbers will continually increase as long as you use the tools properly and can account for both losses and gains.

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