Best times to post

Posted on April 16, 2013

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I’ve ended up with something of a side-line role advising when you should post to Facebook… or Twitter… or LinkedIn… or, well, you get the picture. (Flickr?!)

It isn’t something I care about deeply but for anyone interested in reaching people – professionally, who isn’t? – then it has become a big deal, especially given where we’ve got to with social media and the ongoing effectiveness of email newsletters.

Clock and eyeBut something irks me about the whole thing. There’s a fundamental, not-taking-a-step-back-ness about the subject.

MailChimp, a popular platform for sending out newsletters, nailed it for me. When you go to send a newsletter manually there’s an option called ‘Send With TimeWarp’. Some of you might guess what that means, though it isn’t obvious.

In short, if you have a newsletter you want to deliver for a morning commute – say 8:00AM – then that send, just like putting a piece of content live online, only works in one time zone. So TimeWarp will put in place a rolling hourly send of 8:00AM across zones.

You see, time is relative.

That 8:00AM newsletter, if sent by a publication in New York, otherwise becomes a lunch time (1:00PM) newsletter in London. Or anywhere in the UK. We’re not complicated when it comes to time zones.

In the US, this kind of scheduling isn’t a new issue. For some TV shows, the four main US time zones have been an issue. Certainly they can be for watching live events such as sport.

So far, so such-is-life. But when we come back to the advice about ‘When to post to Facebook’ and so on, it takes on a new meaning.

Every person/company/government/other isn’t posting for the same audience. If someone tells you that you should post to Facebook on a Wednesday at 3:00PM, that means for all posts that is statistically the most effective time (by volume? likes? shares?). But you’re not all.

In this recent piece, Jon Bernstein shows how the Guardian nails the rhythm of its online readers by time of day, version (eg m-site) and device.

That seems sensible. But when you’ve only got one shot – one article to post, one newsletter to send – you will always poorly serve those users who aren’t in your sweet spot, who aren’t average.

Remember, that could be a user in Europe getting a Good Morning email from California at 4:00PM. It could be much more important.

All we can do is be aware that we’re all now connected – by newsletters, by social media and so on – to people who could be anywhere. That’s not a bad thing. It just makes things complicated.

See also:

When to tweet [tphallett.com]

The best and worst times for Facebook, Twitter engagement [Marketing (US)]

*photo credit: BramstonePhotography via photopin cc

Follow Tony on Twitter – @tphallett

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Posted in: Social media, Work