Central to any story are the five Ws – who, what, where, why, and when. For any brands looking to connect with their fans on Facebook, failing to take the last W into careful consideration could render a content strategy irrelevant.

Facebook has not revealed its algorithm for why posts appear on users’ news feeds, but we know that fans will not see every post from every page they “like” on Facebook. Users can prioritise content through interacting with pages however, so the more a fan comments, “likes” and shares posts on a page, the more of its posts they see in their news feeds. Fans rarely access brand pages directly, so brands must optimise their content strategies to increase chances of appearing in fan news feeds.

This poses somewhat of a dilemma: Fans won’t see posts that much unless they interact with a page, but they won’t interact with a page unless they see and engage with its posts.

This is where timing comes in.

Reaching Fans on the Best Day of the Week

A recent eMarketer report suggests that posts perform best on Thursdays and Fridays, worse between Monday and Wednesday and worst on Saturdays. As Buddy Media points out, the less people want to be at work, the more they are on Facebook. Argyle Social looked further at timing by target sphere; it doesn’t much matter when business-to-business brands post messages, but for targeting consumer audiences, weekend posts get 32 percent more engagement.

Reaching Fans During the Best Time of Day

Statistics vary by region on when users are accessing Facebook. A study of 200 brands by Buddy Media found that those posts outside of normal business hours – in the early morning, at the end of the business day or late at night – had 20 percent higher engagement rates than average. Contrary to these insights, approximately 60 percent of brands post between 10am and 4pm – so they’re not targeting fans when they’re most captive.

Connecting with Fans

To ensure a content strategy is effective at reaching fans at the appropriate times, brands should consider the following:

  1. The best time to target fans, determined through research and testing
    To determine the best time of day for a page to post, Jeff Widman of PageLever recommends calculating the average life span per post by posting an update to the page, and recording its impressions, likes and comment until the rate of new impressions and likes slows down. Using this strategy, one could create an average lifespan per post based on time of day, and could then experiment with different times.
  2. The number of times per day to target fans
    The number one reason users “unlike” a brand is because they post too much.[i] However, the larger the Facebook fan base, the more times a brand could post. Knowing the average life span of a post – which, according to Widman, is nearly 23 hours – can help determine when the next post should come. Based on this formula, a brand should ideally only post once per day.
  3. When to break the rules
    There are times when fans will be more responsive to fewer or more posts, or posts at different times. A brand’s timing methodology is not a steadfast rule, but more of a guideline. For example, if a Canadian brand regularly posts at 11 a.m., it wouldn’t be appropriate to do so on November 11 during Remembrance Day ceremonies. Any brand posting at 12:00am on January 1st would have divided attention of their fans. Posting during times when natural disaster strikes, or major political events occur, could yield the wrong kind of attention. Alternately, if a brand is having an event – such a product launch or contest – increased impressions per post can warrant increased posting.

The sensitive issue of timing, combined with the need to develop engaging and relevant content, affirms that a Facebook marketing strategy should be both strategic and insight-driven. Brands should test what timings work best for them to ensure they’re optimising content, and treat their timing methodology as a guideline and not a steadfast rule.

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