Optimizing Social Content? Moving Beyond the ‘Best Time to Tweet’

As part of Zócalo Group’s Research & Analytics team, one question I frequently hear from clients during discussions of content optimization is that of the “best” time of day to share content. And, a quick look at the hundreds of Google search results on queries about the “best time to Tweet” or “optimal time to post on Facebook” reveals that this question is asked by plenty of brand marketers looking to curate and amplify a relevant, engaging owned presence on social. But, is there really ONE, singular, all-encompassing answer to this larger, more critical question of building the most engaging content? Can there be?

Instead of a hard and fast rule around just the best time to post, I’d actually suggest considering a framework of variables in order to optimize social content for the best potential engagement.

By answering a series of questions about your brand and its fans/followers, brand and community managers alike will stand the best shot at serving content at a time when it is more likely to gain the attention of its intended audience. In turn, fostering the kind of brand-to-customer engagement that is quickly becoming the currency with which social channels are valued. And here at Zócalo Group, this engagement is the very catalyst we believe can lead to the real opportunity for brands – creating advocacy that leads to the brand recommendation.

The Formula To Consider for Content Optimization

1. Who is our audience, and what we do know about their social media usage habits?

No matter how compelling the message or unique its delivery, if your target is most likely accessing her social channels from her phablet during the commute to work, and your big announcement occurs during lunch, does it really stand the chance to resonate?

2. How does our industry or category perform on social?

Just as there may be differences among specific audiences, differences in industries should also be considered. For example, engagement norms and benchmarks (and the corresponding implications for content posting) in B2B will likely vary from those in B2C. And, what may work in the Automotive Industry, may not work in CPG

3. How does the type of content perform?

Plain text, photos, re-tweets, links to articles, etc. all achieve different levels of engagement and may even be optimized for different points during the day. Short of doing controlled experiments such as A/B testing, a simple approach is to qualitatively observe what type of content gains the most traction and when.

4. What content cadence is most effective?

Determining the actual amount of content to proactively post to owned channels also contributes to engagement. Post too frequently, and brands risk alienating fans/followers who may feel bombarded, but post too sporadically, and you may lose the attention of fans and the ability to share the brand’s story.

5. On which day of the week will content be posted?

Finally, also impacting content engagement and the “best” time of day to post is that of the actual day of the week. A post or tweet that may perform well on a Wednesday afternoon might fall flat if it was posted at the same time on a Saturday.

In the end, content optimization is about more than just the “best time to post.” Instead, it’s about careful examination of each of the variables listed above. By testing out ways to make your content work as effective as possible in sharing the brand’s voice, you’ll be able to accomplish the objective of creating strong engagement and building advocacy. And, measuring effectiveness doesn’t have to be daunting – many subscription-based channels analysis tools such as Unmetric empower brands, and their community managers, to optimize in the ways listed above.

Joe Colacurcio is Research Manager at Zócalo Group. Zócalo Group is an award-winning word-of-mouth, social and digital marketing agency focused on one thing: to help our clients become the most talked about, recommended and chosen brands in their category. Find Joe on Twitter @cityslider.

(Clock image via Shutterstock.)