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WORD ON THE STREET

Timing Isn’t Everything

Happy weekend! Defying the many (often contradictory) “rules” we’ve read on how and when to schedule social media for business, we’re posting links to this blog on several platforms Saturday morning—even though most of our audience won’t be at work and are, quite possibly, still sleeping in. Heretical? Mutinous? Perhaps, but some rules are definitely meant to be broken.

We have our reasons for rebelling, though they are admittedly subjective and based more on our guts and common sense than metrics. Here are three of them:

1. We’re not working 9 to 5.

People don’t limit their working—or work-related social media activity—to eight hours a day five days a week. So why should we? This mindset is a throwback, as if we’re still bound by some old industry standard of what constitutes a workday.

Most of us are plugged in during all our waking hours, including a constant connection to the industries in which we work. So why wouldn’t our audience still be interested and engaged on the weekend or at midnight? Our suspicion: people are much more likely to read and explore when they’re off the clock, free from office distractions and looming deadlines.

That being said, who we’re posting to and how they interact with the various social platforms can have a bigger impact than when we’re posting. Consider social media “clog.” Say your audience is made up of moderately engaged Gen Xers and Boomers. If you send a Facebook post at 2 a.m. it probably will still be close to the top of their feeds when they check their phones first thing in the morning. But if your followers are hyperconnected Gen Z professionals, your middle-of-the-night post may be so far down their feeds by morning it might never see the light of day.

2. Sometimes the best of times are the worst of times.

If you’re using a social media management platform with a “best time to post” option, the algorithms applied to your account should be customized based on your company’s specific metrics on each platform and social media track record. They should work most of the time.

But sometimes it’s up to you to decide what works best for you. Like when what you’re posting is time-sensitive in a way no algorithm can predict. If your content is being generated during a live event or tradeshow, for example, it needs to show up during the show—best time recommendations be damned. You might also want to increase the frequency of your posts during the event, when there’s higher traffic on Twitter and Instagram and people have their phones out taking photos to post on their own pages.

3. If it’s interesting, they will come.

Timing isn’t the only thing that influences the impact of what you’re posting; it’s not even the most important. If you’re generating interesting, essential content, your audience will find the time to find it, even after the fact. We recently shared nutritious pizza recipes for a client the day after National Pizza Day! A bold move to be sure, but we still got to take advantage of the hashtags and rack up views.

Despite all the social media experts who profess to know the best times to post on each platform and all the social media management systems that claim to customize posting algorithms to a micro level for your particular industry and audience, common sense says take these promises with a grain of salt. Even the most finely tuned metrics can’t account for the real diversity of who’s on the receiving end of your posts.

There are so many variables to consider. If you really know and understand your audience and your industry—and know what content they’re looking for—you’ll know better than any algorithm ever could what works best.

Dare to be different. Test things. Check analytics and see if you’re getting more looks and clicks by breaking the rules. Make decisions based on direct experience and your own common sense. Chances are, your timing will be perfect.

Enjoy the weekend!

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