Over the past eighteen months or so, I’ve been involved in managing a number of different company Twitter and Facebook accounts. Much of this job, of course, consists of working out what to post. How to fit the most information into 140 characters of a Tweet, or how to start a Facebook post so that people won’t quickly skip over it when scrolling down their newsfeed etc. etc. But one thing I realised fairly early on, was that while what you post is clearly important, when you post can be just as relevant when it comes to scoring the highest engagement.
Facebook Insights usually give fairly good information on when pages followers are online. Twitter is harder to figure out – partly because it doesn’t have the same level of information on it’s users, and isn’t as accurate in it’s reporting (it was only once I started doing Facebook advertising that I discovered the sheer amount of detail that FB has on it’s users, and it’s a little bit terrifying.)
Of course, Facebook hasn’t put posts in people’s newsfeeds chronologically for a long time now, so its not a case of posting dead on five o’clock when everyone gets off work. In that respect, posting is more of an art than a science. You’re trying to figure out Facebook’s algorithms and at this point they’re based on a staggering number of factors. Time is only one part of that, but when you’re trying for organic reach (something Facebook would prefer organisations and companies don’t do, they would rather people paid for exposure) it is a factor that you can control.
Twitter is a little easier timewise, although earlier this year they decided to mess things up a little with the ‘While you were gone; feature. There’s a bit more guesswork involved in knowing when your Twitter followers are online, but you should have enough Geographical knowledge to know what timezones the majority are operating in – if most people are in the UK, then early morning might not be the best way to go. However, since tweets aren’t going to float up and down poeple’s timelines in the way a Facebook post does, it’s probably better to ensure you tweet important things a few times throughout the day at regular intervals (most news sites, professional bloggers etc. tend to do this.) How often to tweet the same thing is another art, as a follower’s tolerance for getting repeated info depends on how many people they might be following (the Twitter average is apparently 208 – or was in 2012 in that article, I imagine there should be more up to date stats elsewhere.)
Overall, much of this depends on educated guesses and some experimentation. I was lucky that my first time managing social media (for Willow Wood Hospice) allowed me to experiment a fair amount. But considering what, when and how often, it’s easy to quickly get a feel of a new account, and the behaviour of it’s followers.