My colleague Elizabeth Sosnow has written recently about how PR is becoming content. And she’s right. The best among us – those who are quickly adapting to the ever evolving world of PR – are able to 1) develop great ideas and 2) determine how best to package and distribute them. But once you’ve created the content and determined your marketing strategy, you’re faced with another question: when should you distribute your content for maximum results?
That’s the question Dan Zarrella set out to answer in his latest research on “The Science of Timing.” The study evaluated the best times to publish blog posts, send emails or post updates on Twitter and Facebook, and Dan was kind enough to share some of his findings in a recent webinar (which can be found here if you missed it).
His research provides some valuable insights into online behavior (and don’t worry, I do share some of the findings below); however, the most valuable takeaway from Dan’s webinar was not in the data, but in the advice he gave throughout:
1. Know your goals. What are you trying to accomplish by distributing your content via a certain distribution channel? What is your call to action? Are you Tweeting for RTs and/or to increase followers? Are you trying to drive traffic to your blog, or website? Dan’s research found that the answers to these questions impact not only the type of content you create and how you package it, but when you should distribute your content.
For example, if you’re blogging for page views, they seem to decline on the weekends, while comments actually spike on Saturdays and Sundays. On the other hand, if you’re blogging for links, Mondays and Thursdays seem to be the best days to post.
2. Know your audience. How do they like to receive their content? When do they typically read blogs, or engage on Twitter? While it may seem difficult to answer some of these questions – tracking the data garnered from your online campaigns can provide valuable information on the audience you’re trying to reach.
For example, Dan found that men tend to read blogs in the evening or night more than women. So, if you’re writing blog content for men, experiment with posting your content in the evening.
3. Test different content and timing. The same timing is not going to work for everyone. So, figure out what works for you and your specific marketing campaign. The beauty of distributing your content online is that there are many ways to evaluate how the type of content you’re sharing, or the timing of your posts, impacts the number of click throughs, RTs or comments.
Some other interesting findings from Dan’s study include:
- The later in the day and week you Tweet, the more “retweetable” you are. If you’re looking for people to share your content through RTs, try those time periods.
- The more you Tweet, the less people click through to your content. Dan found that the more you Tweet per hour, the more your click through rate declines. So, if you’re trying to drive traffic to your content (vs. being an information source) be conscientious about how much you Tweet.
- Weekends are the best for Facebook sharing. There is a substantial uptick in Facebook shares on the weekend. So, don’t be afraid to post your content on the weekend.
- Weekends can also be a good time for email. More opens per day and clicks per day occur on the weekends. However, more abuse reports are also reported on the weekend. So, if you have targeted, useful content – experiment with emailing on weekends.
- Frequency of email does not heavily impact click throughs or unsubscribe rates. Unsubscribe rates are the highest when you only send one email per month. So, if you’ve kept your target engaged after one email, try sending them more. It does not seem to impact whether or not they subscribe to your content.
- Newer subscribers are more likely to click through to your content. So, hit users with your best offer early on.
- Frequency matters when blogging. The more you post, the more unique page views and links you’ll garner per month.
Again, as Dan noted at the beginning of his webinar, the results from his study provide “best practices” for you to consider when developing your marketing strategy. But if you really want to achieve maximum results, it’s critical that you test and adapt your strategy to fit your specific campaign. And that goes for more than just the timing of your posts. That goes for the type of content you’re creating and the way you’re packaging it as well.
What have you learned from testing your assumptions about your content distribution strategies?
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