I saw with dismay yet another infographic published recently by an otherwise respectable PR publication with the headline “Best time to post on Facebook” along with a variety of other social networks. Let me say this as forcefully as professionalism permits:
Not in the aggregate. Not in your industry. Not even in your own audience as a whole. There is no best time to tweet, to post to Facebook, to blog, to send email, to do anything digitally.
Think carefully about this. Even in a household with two parents and two kids, there is a “best time for going to bed”, but that time varies wildly among the different members of the household, doesn’t it? If you can’t get four people to agree on when bedtime is, what’s the chance you’re going to get four thousand or four million people to agree on when you should publish to social media to reach them?
The good news is this: through frequent testing and simple, basic qualitative research (i.e. asking people), you can determine when your publication schedule can deliver the highest impact to the audience that matters. It’s incredibly simple to do: ask them, then test to see if your qualitative data matches up with their behavior when you actually publish your emails, blog posts, tweets, etc.
If you’re unwilling or unable to do that work, then at the very least use some common sense and look in your web analytics. What day of the week to people normally visit your website the most? What day of the week do people normally convert the most? What time of day do they visit and convert the most? Use that common sense data to adjust your publication schedule and measure. Did it make a difference? Did your open rate or retweet rate or conversion rate increase? If so, you’ve got a winner. Keep refining your tests. If not, then try another hypothesis.
Whatever you do, don’t blindly accept the advice of some infographic that some intern likely slapped together based on lousy data. Would you bet the rest of your business on the advice of a random infographic you found on the Internet? Would you alter your financial structure or change your employee benefits? No? Then don’t do it with your marketing and communications, either.
There is no average best time for anything in aggregate that will ever deliver maximum results for your unique audience.
Christopher S. Penn
Vice President, Marketing Technology
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