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Thinking about timing and calendars

How social media activity can be scheduled to appeal to the attention of the target audience and how national and global events can influence that.
© University of Leeds

So far this week, you’ve explored how social media marketing campaign success is measured as you’ve delved into the topic of metrics.

Now that you know how you might monitor the impact of your campaign, it’s time to think about how to plan and when to post. Did you know that one of the most important things to consider when planning your social media campaign is timing?

An image of a desk calendar and diary planner on a table

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 may wish to to learn more about the best times to post on social media for different kinds of businesses. If so, you can read the article from Sprout Social in the See Also section.

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. Consider the following factors:

  • 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. For example, an organisation such as the International Olympic Committee closely monitors any mention of the Olympics brand.

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.

Try it out:

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.
© University of Leeds
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