27 Aug 2012
By Wright Communications
The Olympics inspired 24/7 tweeting however for those in 'brand land' are there good and bad times of the day to tweet?
A study by American digital agency Raka, has shown "The two times of day brands should avoid tweeting".
In a nutshell, Raka says if brands want their followers to click
links shared in tweets (referred to as "click throughs"), they
should post to Twitter early in the afternoon -1pm to 3pm- Monday
through Thursday, according to a study by
link shortening service Bit.ly.
The study also stressed the two worst times to tweet for click throughs: After 8pm any day of the week and after 3pm on Friday.
"Unless it's breaking news, avoid tweeting important content [during those times]," the infographic noted.
Although slightly limited in use for us Kiwis because of the American time-zone factor, the study does encourage some important thinking around timing of tweets and your audience, whether local or international.
While the post-3pm Friday rule is fairly self-explanatory, the concept of evening tweeting is an interesting one. I often notice a flurry of activity between 7.30-9.30pm, as people settle on the couch for the night and open up their laptops. You could argue that for some brands, this time would be optimal, with people at home having the luxury of time to click through and delve deeper into a website than they would in the office.
Because of its constantly fluctuating and evolving nature, there's always going to be a risk attached to applying any kind of generic rule to social media management.
This was strongly reflected in the discussion generated around the post, which pointed to a general consensus seems to be that a "horses for courses" approach is generally best.
One commenter posted: "Studies like this are completely worthless. Each industry/brand has its own unique audience that engages with various types of content in different ways and at different times. Trying to establish an overall "best time" to tweet or posts is doing a disservice to marketers attempting to optimize their social strategies."
That said, I don't think there's any harm in giving people a basic idea of optimal times. Businesses always want data and until they've actually started collecting it for themselves, it's a good starting point. Obviously, over time businesses should track what works best for them, but that can take awhile.
The same applies to different industries, for example, in lotteries we see increased engagement on jackpot draw days or leading up to them. Every industry is likely to vary based on player habits and behaviours around their products.
In short, it's about using common sense and knowing your audience.
The only professional thing to do is monitor response to your Tweets and adjust the times you post accordingly. I'm sure this type of general advice is helpful to a local business looking at a single time zone, but it should still just be a starting point, adjusted to match the actual clicking patterns of your actual followers.
Bit.ly responded to comments, agreeing there is no one magic formula for reaching specific audiences and there is no replacement for understanding your target audience's online preferences, suggesting rather that the report and this infographic should be considered as a reference tool.
It is interesting to see how "traditional" PR practises are still as relevant as ever to social media. Instead of seeing these "golden hours" as the be all and end all, we should be focusing our social media energies, as in all successful communications strategies, on knowing our audience, targeting our messages accordingly and placing (often lacking) importance on improving our monitoring systems.
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