Studies that claim to tell you when the best time to publish a blog post or share content socially are, in my opinion, mostly a load of crap.
That’s my opinion, and I’m sticking with it.
You’ve probably seen these studies and statistics. The folks at Bit.ly (a service I like and use) just shared some of their data and we wrote about it on Marketing Land. In a nutshell, Bit.ly is saying that the best time to post stuff on Twitter and Facebook is early afternoon, U.S. Eastern time.
I don’t mean to pick on Bit.ly because, as I said, that’s just the latest in a pretty long line of articles and reports that try to suggest that there’s one magical time that you should be publishing and sharing content.
Why There’s No Magical Time To Publish
Here are a few problems with those kinds of articles/reports:
1.) When is YOUR audience online?
Those studies try to look at Internet activity as a whole, and it may be that retweets or likes happen more often on certain days and at certain times. But chances are good that, if you’re reading this, the entire Internet is not your target audience.
Those studies don’t take into account when your audience is online, when they’re active and when they’re most likely to be receptive to your content. Danny Sullivan said it well in that Marketing Land article I mentioned earlier:
“…ultimately it will be up to your own individual findings to know the optimal time to post content.”
2.) If everybody starts posting at the optimal time, no one will see anything.
Social media is noisy enough, right? If you’re trying to get your content seen by potential prospects and customers, talking at the same time that everyone else is talking probably won’t work.
3.) These studies don’t account for quality of the content.
Things are read and shared because they’re good, not because they were timed correctly. I’ve yet to see a study on timing blog posts or social media updates that takes quality into account. (Did I miss it? Leave me a comment, please.) It would be tough to account for quality in any of these studies because quality is subjective — it depends on the audience (see No. 1 above).
I like what Jason Falls said earlier this year about how quality relates to timing:
“…does day of the week or time of day even matter? We don’t know because we didn’t first see if the critical success factor was something different … like quality of the content.”
4.) You can’t predict how anyone will respond to your content no matter when it’s published.
Humans are often unpredictable. You don’t know who’s online at any given moment. Last August, I accidentally published an article here on Small Business Search Marketing at about 11:00 pm on a Monday night. I meant to schedule it for Tuesday morning when more people would be online, but I hit “publish” by mistake.
Look what happened:
That huge spike near the middle there? Yeah. That was my “mistake.” Published at 11 pm (Pacific time, even!) on a Monday night. I wrote about this on my personal blog and called it the greatest blogging mistake I ever made.
Most of my audience wasn’t online at that late hour, but one person with an enormous following was and when he retweeted me, all hell broke loose. I could never have predicted that.
I’m not trying to throw these studies (not the people/companies that publish them) under the bus. The data is interesting and informative, and has value at a general level.
But they’re too general. They don’t take your audience into account, and they don’t take the quality factor into account.
Test what works for you and your audience. Publish blog articles at different times of day, and on different days. Do the same when sharing content on Facebook, Twitter, or wherever you’ve found your audience online.
And, even after you run your own experiments, don’t be surprised if that perfect/magical time isn’t always perfect and magical. Because it’s really hard to predict human behavior.