How to Determine the Best Times to Engage Your Social Media Community - dummies

How to Determine the Best Times to Engage Your Social Media Community

By Aliza Sherman, Danielle Elliott Smith

Many social media experts will tell you that the greatest level of engagement on the four primary social platforms (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google+) occurs four times a day:

  • First thing in the morning

  • Lunch Time

  • Mid-afternoon

  • Early evening

Other experts will tell you to avoid evenings and weekends, whereas others emphasize the benefit of posting during those times and days.

Knowing your audience tells you far more about the best days and times to post to your social channels than any report or expert’s opinion. If you’re reaching out to parents, determine whether they’re online and paying attention in the mornings while rushing to get their kids to school? On holidays when they’re traveling? At dinnertime?

You can find out more about your followers’ online habits over time by observing when they are more likely to respond. Shift the times on your posts until you hit the sweet spots. Ask followers what they prefer. Take a quick poll or survey specifically focused on their online habits and preferred destinations.

Depending on the time zone, it’s safe to say that most of the social channels where you’re trying to attract people’s attention will quiet down at night. This isn’t a hard-and-fast rule, but after you know the rhythms of your audience’s schedule, you’ll know when it’s safe to assume that people you’re trying to reach are asleep.

We’re not suggesting that you discount someone with insomnia, but chances are good that your messages won’t generate the best outcomes at 3 a.m.

Base your posting timeframes more on your audience’s time zones than on your own if yours don’t match theirs. You might have to finagle your schedule; however, your goal is to reach the right people, not to put out well-crafted messages to the wrong audiences.

To get started, schedule your core messaging or arrange to be present in social media during “busy” times online:

  • Early morning (7 to 9 a.m.): Many people quickly check in as they hurry themselves and their families out the door for the day.

  • Lunchtime (11 a.m. to 1 p.m.): For people in the Midwest and on the east coast, it’s nearly lunchtime; on the west coast, it’s during the morning.

  • Midafternoon (1 to 3 p.m.): An “after lunchtime” lull often occurs when people check in between tasks. Also, it’s lunchtime on the west coast.

  • Early evening (7 to 9 p.m.): As people settle down after dinner on the east coast, west coast residents are winding down their day. If your target market is on the west coast, you can skip the first timeframe and add another one even later to tap into the post-dinner social networking surge for them.

If you find your audience engaging with you during the morning and midday, but you notice responses waning in the evening, make adjustments to your schedule. If you find the opposite to be true, adjust accordingly. Continue to be present whenever and wherever your community wants to see you.

If your audience is international, you have more schedule-finessing to do. Consider hiring an assistant closer to the time zones where your core audience is located to help present a live presence in your social media channels at the most suitable times.