Using Data to Increase Engagement: The Science of Timing

Earlier this week, I attended Dan Zarrella’s online webinar on the Science of Timing marketing engagements on Twitter, Facebook, email and blogs. Dan encouraged participants to go beyond the social media myths (which he callsunicorns and rainbows) and instead approach communications by looking at statistics and data to gain insight on where you can engage most effectively. […]

Earlier this week, I attended Dan Zarrella’s online webinar on the Science of Timing marketing engagements on Twitter, Facebook, email and blogs. Dan encouraged participants to go beyond the social media myths (which he callsunicorns and rainbows) and instead approach communications by looking at statistics and data to gain insight on where you can engage most effectively. […]

TimeEarlier this week, I attended Dan Zarrella’s online webinar on the Science of Timing marketing engagements on Twitter, Facebook, email and blogs. Dan encouraged participants to go beyond the social media myths (which he callsunicorns and rainbows) and instead approach communications by looking at statistics and data to gain insight on where you can engage most effectively.

Dan has compiled tons of data over the few years and shared some best practices for different platforms:

Twitter

  • Bios matter. Identify yourself authoritatively and people will take you more seriously and be more likely to follow you. Twitter bios including words like official, founder, expert, guru and author tend to have more followers.
  • West Coasters tweet during the lunch hour. Retweet activity is at its highest between 2 and 5 p.m. EST. If you’re looking for retweets, tweets shared late in the day tend to be shared more.
  • For more clicks, don’t be afraid to tweet on the weekend. There isn’t much variation on click-through rate by day. In fact, Saturdays and Sundays generally have better click-through rates than Mondays and Thursdays.
  • Tweet more – you won’t flood your followers’ Twitter streams. Data shows that people who tweeted 22 times a day had the most followers. This doesn’t mean you have to tweet exactly 22 times a day to be influential, but rather showcases that it’s okay to tweet frequently if you have something relevant to say.
  • Don’t repeat a tweet. It’s okay (and even encouraged) to tweet a link to the same content multiple times, but make sure you’re approaching it slightly differently each time. For instance, when tweeting a blog post, share the title of the post with the link first, then a few hours later, share a pull quote or interesting factoid with the link.

Facebook

  • Don’t crowd your content. It’s much easier to flood your friends’ streams on Facebook than on Twitter. If you want your content to get attention, give it some breathing room and don’t overwhelm your friends.
  • Weekends and early mornings are best for Facebook sharing. Many workplaces block Facebook – so people tend to check it at home on the weekends and before they go to work. Timing your communications to this schedule will increase the likelihood of the content being shared.

Email

  • Email good content on the weekend. Email open rates tend to be higher on the weekends because people are able to give more attention to emails then. Because you’re encroaching on weekend time, make sure it’s great content – otherwise you’re likely to be sent to the spambot or unsubscribed. Weekend bounce rates are also higher.
  • Switch up the days and times that you email, and email more often. Send emails really early in the morning to give your content a chance to be recognized before the inbox becomes crowded during noisier/more expected send times.
  • Your newest subscribers are your best – hook them while you can. When people first start receiving your content, the brand recognition is at its highest and they are the most interested with what you have to say. Give them the good stuff now (special offers, demos, cool content) so you can keep them loyal.

Blogs

  • Mondays are good for something. Blog post pageviews are highest on Mondays.
  • Know your audience and what their habits are. For instance, men report reading blogs at night more often than women do.
  • Blog on weekends (or really early) if you want comments. Many people are too busy during the workweek to think about sharing their feedback. When people have more time to digest the content (either after thinking about it the whole day or when they have more free time on the weekend), they’ll be much more likely to share their thoughts.
  • Don’t forget about the Linkerati. If you’re blogging for links and trackbacks to your page, you should try to post very early (6 or 7am EST) to have the best chance to get referenced or included in subsequent blog posts.
  • More is better. Blogs that published more than once a day had way more traffic and trackbacks. Increase the frequency of your posts to get the most benefit.

My biggest takeaway? Don’t be afraid to experiment often. You need to try a lot of different techniques, timing and tactics to figure out the sweet spot for your specific audience. But don’t worry – Dan has a scientific way to figure that out too. During the webinar, he introduced a new analysis tool, TweetWhen, to figure out when your tweets will stick the best.

Photo courtesy of flickr user Alan Cleaver.

Share this