An advertorial from Buffer, cross-posted in The Next Web called “A scientific guide to posting tweets, Facebook posts, emails and blog posts at the best time” was shared widely this weekend, and emailed to me directly by several different people, some of whom are working on the same project with me.
Before I get going with why I disagree with the article, let me say that Buffer is an amazing app, as is the Hootsuite auto-scheduler, a tool I use daily. I really like using them for convenience, and to get an idea of what seems to work well for the communities my different clients are engaged with. When I read the article, all it really told me was that I need to look at my own audience, split-test all my posts, record the engagement rates and then move forward with more decisions. If you’re delivering a social media service to a client, you should be doing this anyway. If you’re posting for yourself, it’s a good thing to do to help you succeed.
Buffer did a great job of explaining what their product does and how you can use it effectively. What it didn’t talk about was content. What it didn’t talk about was context. By calling the article ‘scientific’ it ended up being reductionist to the point of exclusion for any other impact your posts might have. (It also didn’t talk about promoted posts or ads, which directly affect impressions on various networks.)
Rule: Kittens on Thursday, Jokes on Fridays
The article was fine. It was broad, it had some standards, but they weren’t even broken out by industry. For example, there is a general finding that engagement is higher on Facebook on the weekend and at the end of the week. In the case of one client I have in mind, engagement is dead on the weekend and right back up Monday morning. There are specific reasons for this that have everything to do with content and audience preferences and nothing to do with general rules. They are unique and interesting, as is their audience. The advice I give them could include sharing more or promoting more on the weekends if they want to go in that direction, or it could focus on the audience who has implicitly declared a preference and share even more at the top of the week. This is just one example, there are many more available, each one different and skewed towards your community and their preferences.
It would be really nice to plug in your audience demographic, your time-zone, and your goals and then just press ‘go’ and instantly end up with a zillion loyal followers commenting and sharing your posts. In reality, you need to listen to your audience. You need to see what else is happening in the world and then do the opposite of whatever Kenneth Cole is doing with that information. You need to create lovely, fun, memorable items that people want to share. And sometimes you need to pay to boost it – particularly if you’re sharing something time-sensitive.
Buffer is an excellent tool. So is Hootsuite, ThunderClap and any number of other tools that can help you share your messages more. But the best tool you have to knit your community closer together and really reach the people who need to be reached is an iterative analytics and content suite called: your ears, your hands and your brain.
Start listening. Start sharing. Start measuring.