We’ve all seen them. Those blog posts and tools that promise to tell you the best time to post your links on social media to get the best response. They tell you things that we really should already know, right? We all have a pretty good idea that more people are looking at Twitter in the middle of their day, or are likely to be on LinkedIn after work hours, etc.
But, does that really tell you the best time to post to those networks? Maybe, if you assume that everyone is in the same time zone as you, but what if they aren’t?
This first image is a representation of my Twitter followers. Let’s say I wanted to try and hit my followers during the middle of their day, well that looks very different from here on the West Coast than it does for all those folks on the East Coast, let alone those in the middle who are somewhere in between, or the smaller audience that is outside of the US entirely.
If I look strictly at the advice about the best time to post, I would post my messages around 1PM on the West Coast, since that is the middle of my day, but that’s 4PM on the East Coast, well past what would be considered the middle of the day. If I post in the middle of the day for those folks, I’m now posting early in the morning for those of us on Pacific Time.
This gets even worse when you have a more global audience. Consider my Child Abuse Survivor Site’s Twitter following:
Now we’ve got to also consider a large group of people in the UK, and smaller, but not insignificant, groups in the Middle East, Australia, etc. What’s the one “secret” time to post that is going to be fair to all those folks?
The answer, of course, is to post more than once!
I know, I know. I’m telling you that the best way to get the word out on social media is to repeat yourself, how annoying! Make no mistake about it, we’ve all seen those accounts that send out the same tweets, every day, for months on end. (Some even longer!) I’m not advocating that. That, frankly, is annoying as heck. What I am advocating, however, is to consider your audience, and find a nice balance between getting the word out to your followers at the time that works best for them, and spamming your network. I believe that balance can be accomplished.
But, how to go about it?
First, find out where your followers are. If you’re a local business targeting local people, then you already know. If you’re an online entity, like my blogs, you should check out something like Followerwonk, which is where I was able to get those snazzy maps. That will give you an estimate of where your followers are coming from.
With that information, now we can start to make use of the “best time to post” advice. If you write a new post and want to share that with your Twitter followers, factor in the time zone effects. For me, that is going to mean sharing a link in the morning hours at home, to catch those East Coast folks, and then again mid-day for the West Coast. (I also plan to repeat a couple of times over the next few days, and then basically stop sharing the same post after that, occasionally going back to find a good post and yank it out and re-post once or twice. Hopefully, that isn’t so repetitive that it causes a great unfollowing!)
On the Child Abuse site, it means sharing things a few times that first day, to cover a wide variety of time zones. To really hit that UK audience, that means sharing things very, very early in the morning, and then again a couple of times to hit the US, and maybe even occasionally posting it in the middle of the night here to hit those other folks. This is where a scheduling service like Buffer, or SocialPilot comes in handy.
There are many services out there like these, both paid and free. These are the two I’m currently playing around with and which offer the ability to schedule tweets so that I can be kind to those overseas, without having to wake up at 4AM to post. If you’re using a different service, feel free to leave a comment with good/bad reviews!
Ultimately, to be a social media account worth following, I think you have to be considerate of the time zone of your followers when sharing, and that sharing older content is also important to help new followers get more information about what you’ve written in the past. But, it’s also very easy to go too far with that. You’re not being considerate of your long-time followers if you repeat yourself too much, because now their social media feeds are getting filled every day with stuff they’ve already seen. We’d all do well to take a look at our own profiles and consider the value proposition of following our accounts. Is there enough new content to make following worth the time, or will it be the same thing over, and over, and over? Also are things posted often enough that this account would even get noticed?
If you can answer yes to both of those questions, I think you’ve found a good balance. Have you found a balance, or are you still struggling to find the proper balance? Share your own advice, or your own pet peeves about repeated content in the comments!