When social media was first constructed there was limited marketing use. Primarily a social tool, brands knew they wanted to break in and engage with the users but they weren’t always sure how. Platforms like Twitter, in particular, were difficult to crack, thanks to their lack of functionality in the early days.
Now social media platforms have become a staple of marketing strategy and everyone uses it…which has its upside and its downside. On one hand, the sheer power of social media platforms as engagement and lead generation tools can’t be overstated. On the other, competition for user attention is pretty intense. It isn’t always easy to be seen in the crowd.
Creating a solid social media schedule is one of the best ways to improve your results and be effective in your posting efforts.
Choosing Your Platform(s)
Believe it or not, there is not now, nor has there ever been, a magic platform that is going to give you the best results.
Whatever guides have claimed one being superior over the other, we can look at the success of brands on various social media sites and see that it isn’t about where you post, it is about who you are posting to, what you are posting and how you are using the tool to your advantage.
Trial and error and your target audience, as well as your content strategy as it is integrated into your social strategy, is going to be key here. But let’s look at some of the basic benefits of the most popular platforms as they stand today.Creating a solid social media schedule is one of the best ways to improve your results and be effective in your posting efforts.
Optimal posting frequency: 1-2 updates a day (using diverse formats)
The largest and most popular social media site on the web, Facebook is arguably the greatest example of the “business friendly” social media platform. Zuckerberg has never been secretive about his wish to make it a hub for commercial integration and his company has led the way on that front.
The biggest benefits here are customizability, brand-centric features and the largest audience possible for your campaigns. The downside is demographics. While older audiences are there, younger ones have largely flown the coop. So if you are aiming for anyone under 25, Facebook may not be the place to go.
Optimal posting frequency: 1 update every couple of hours at least (using diverse formats)
When Twitter was fresh on the scene, microblogging existed but had not yet been popularized. Once they adopted hashtags and opened their live search, the site exploded. Now it is one of the most open and accessible means of engaging with users, which is its biggest strength. An ever-growing advertising arsenal is another.
If you plan on cultivating hashtag campaigns, Twitter will be a big source for your posts. It is also a great way to connect with influencers for a bit of influencer marketing.
Optimal posting frequency: 1 update a day at least
Here dwell the younguns. Instagram and Snapchat are arguably the biggest locations to find anyone on the younger side of the demographic scale, which has driven Instagram into popularity even as it hasn’t managed to break the user records of the two above platforms.
Visuals are the name of the game, so social campaigns based mainly on images or video are well suited for Insta-fame. For older audiences, you may want to stick with the more traditional giants.
More Social Media Platforms
Of course, you also have LinkedIn, Pinterest, Tumblr, Reddit and several others that could be added to the list. But given the direction of most strategies these days, focusing on the above three will account for most of the people reading this. Think of the other platforms as supplementals, except in rare circumstances. They just don’t have the reach for most brands to stand on their own, unless those brands have already reached a certain peak status.
That doesn’t mean you should ignore them! Just that most of your posts probably won’t be centered there.
Keep in mind that much of this depends on the quality of your content. You could have cracked the perfect schedule plan and still fail because your content stinks.
Monitor Your Audience’s Schedule
Now we look at when to post. I will admit that in the past I ascribed to the idea that there were some special times that were just better to post. These times were based on the data given from each platform, stating their busiest times.
I know better these days:
- It only really matters for Twitter because neither Facebook nor Instagram feeds are sorted by recency-only (and even Twitter is trying to move away from that model too). To give you a bit more context, here’s how the Facebook algorithm works as of recently.
- What you want is to know when your particular audience is most active. Because of that, no one can give you the best time. You have to figure that out based on who you are trying to reach.
Some factors that are going to change this are
- activity level online
- the social platform you choose.
Here is where social media metrics are so important. Use all tools at your disposal to better understand your audience:
- Checking Google Analytics “Real Time” reports will help you spot your audience’s most active time
- Facebook Insights and Twitter Analytics will help you identify most engaging updates
Having a good dashboard that can give you information over a period of time will provide everything you need to make a posting schedule that is most effective based on who you are looking to reach.
Cyfe (Disclaimer: As of recently, this is my content marketing client but I have been their active users for years) is a great social media dashboard that can bring many things together and offer you an overtime perspective:
Put Together Your Social Media Schedule Calendar
Once you have that in hand you can make a social media posting calendar, similar to an editorial calendar.
Having this will let you plan more than just when you post, but also let you pencil in time every week to engage one on one with your audience… which just happens to be one of the most important things you can do on your social media page.
There are lots of calendar solutions you can look at. I for one only use Google spreadsheets where, instead of putting actual updates, I put topics I am going to cover on each particular month, based on seasonality, industry events, etc. This saves time and lets me always be up-to-date with my updates. You can read more on this here.
Once I have planned out my topics, I use all kinds of tools that allow me to schedule and time out my updates for optimal frequency throughout each day. Tools I use most:
- MavSocial to schedule recurring tweets as well as publish to multiple Facebook pages
- ViralContentBee Buffer feature (Disclaimer: This the tool I founded) to spread out tweets throughout the day
Don’t Post Recklessly!
Social media is a wonderful tool for engagement, lead generation, branding and more. But you can go into it haphazardly, you need a plan.
Create a schedule based on your audience and what works for them and you will have an effective campaign every time.
Blog photo:Emma Matthews