Thinking about timing and calendars

One of the most important things to consider when planning your social media campaign is timing.

In many cases, deciding when to publish on social media platforms will depend on your target audience. Below you’ll find some guidance to help you think about how, and when, to communicate with your audience.

Consider habits

Think about the rhythms of your audience’s day and week. When might they see your posts? Ask yourself whether you think they will find them inspiring, useful, informative, or just more social media ‘noise’.

The general guidance for Twitter, Facebook and Instagram is that publishing midday and midweek leads to the most engagement. The least engagement happens on weekends.

Other good times to post include during a user’s morning and afternoon commute, or just before and after work. Social media is increasingly filling what was traditionally ‘down time’, and brands and businesses need to respond accordingly.

Understand work patterns

You should always consider your target audience attention when scheduling content. If it comes from specific sectors, for example, education or healthcare, engagement is likely to be very different. Typically, those working in these areas will have fewer opportunities to check in on social media during the working day. However, students may have more opportunities to engage with social media more regularly.

You can read more on the best times to post on social media for different kinds of businesses, such as media, consumer goods, education and healthcare, in the Best times to post on social media for 2019 article on the Sprout Social web site.

Maximise your content

Most social platforms now use some form of algorithm to prioritise content. This can be overruled temporarily by a user on Twitter or Facebook, but not on Instagram. Therefore, you can’t always guarantee that posting at a specific time will result in your content being seen at that time. While this can be extremely frustrating, making your content resonate in other ways will enable you to increase your content’s visibility and effectiveness.

You could try encouraging engagement and using topical hooks, or paid activity (if your budget allows). It’s also fine to repeat content on a fast-moving platform like Twitter, as long as it’s not too often and repetitive. To provide variety, it helps to tweak the content, while keeping the underlying message consistent.

Create a narrative arc

As well as looking at individual posting times, you should think about the overall rhythm of the campaign including the:

  • posting frequency
  • type of post
  • overall flow of your messages.

Just like storytelling, campaigns benefit from having a narrative arc: a beginning, middle and end each containing defined activities, events and objectives.. Within each part of the overall campaign, messages and individual posts and interactions can be planned to best resonate with target audiences and channels. For example:

  • Week 1: Drive awareness of brand, use leading questions and develop curiosity about the product or service.
  • Week 2: Maintain brand awareness, post about individual product attributes and answer questions.
  • Week 3: Introduce individual user stories and testimonials, invite enquiries to develop leads and answer questions.
  • Week 4: Communicate the main product messaging, post reviews and promote special offers to drive sales.

Focus on the bigger picture

Consider how your social media campaign might refer to, or tie into, what’s happening in the wider world. A regular event such as the summer holidays, a sports tournament or even a heatwave, could inform your content and increase relevance, making sure it’s still interesting to your audience.

You should be aware that there can sometimes be restrictions on using particular trademarked terms. The article Here Are the Many, Many Ways Your Business Can Get in Trouble for Tweeting the Olympics shows an example of an organisation that closely monitors any mention of the brand.

Close-up screenshot of an online calendar tool showing a social media publishing schedule

Specific holidays, and national or international days, weeks and months can also be deployed if relevant to your target audience and campaign messages. Examples of this include:

  • International Women’s Day, held annually on 8 March. This might provide a handy hook for you to speak about the accomplishments of the women behind your product or company.
  • World Vegan Month in November could be a great time for a campaign if you’re launching a business selling egg free cakes.

A social media content calendar can help you to lay out the overall campaign themes and individual content. Doing this will allow you to see at a glance how social media activity flows there are on each platform, and as a whole across the campaign. There are many free templates available online which you can customise to your needs.

Introduce variety

It’s a good idea to vary your content so that you aren’t limiting the way in which you can connect with your audience. For example:

  • One third of your content could be direct promotion of your business or products.
  • Another third could be focused on engagement, for example, replying to users or retweeting them.
  • The final third could be reposting or commenting on things relevant to your campaign, without directly pushing your own product, service or brand.

Have your say:

Take this opportunity to reflect on the points above by thinking about your responses to the following questions:

  • Can you think of a good ‘real world’ hook for your chosen case study?
  • Do you think the target audience you’ve identified would have a particular usage schedule?

Share and discuss your insights and ideas with other learners in the Comments section.

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This article is from the free online course:

Create a Social Media Marketing Campaign

University of Leeds