Post it Whenever: Why ‘Best Posting Time’ Rules Are Lies

Post it Whenever: Why ‘Best Posting Time’ Rules Are Lies

When should I post my recruiting posts on social media? It doesn’t matter.

What’s the best time to post to Facebook? Or Twitter? Or LinkedIn? Or Glassdoor? In our world, we are asked that question once a week at least. Or are expected to provide data as to the best posting times.

I’ve never been a big fan of these stats. They feel like horse-race betting systems in which the data is interpreted to suggest future behavior. Have you heard that you’re supposed to send a tweet at the end of the day because people check Twitter on their way home from work? Me, too.

But I know everyone checks their feeds all day at (most) workplaces. They check them first thing in the morning. (Did you know that most people think about their phones before their significant others when they wake up?). They check during work, at lunch, during dinner, while watching TV, while out with friends, when they are trying to fall asleep. To claim there is a “peak time” for posting is like saying there’s a peak time for breathing.

spriral timeBeyond that, the social tools themselves are making the idea of “best times to post” irrelevant.

Go to your Twitter feed right now. For this, go ahead and use your phone (like 82 percent of all Twitter users do) and take a look. It’s not in chronological order. Next to something that was posted 10 minutes ago is something that was posted 10 hours ago.

Go to Facebook and do the same thing. Your feed is not a raw chronological feed at all; it filters your posts and shows you selected things seemingly at random. On top of that, posts from non-friends (not fans) get prominent placement where brand content like yours gets pushed down to the 1-3 percent of fans who even see it.

LinkedIn? That’s not even remotely chronological. They say that a post you put up will be seen by up to 80 percent of all your fans who sign in over the next week.

Glassdoor is chronological. But because it doesn’t even have a news feed, people won’t notice when things were posted. That content isn’t pushed at people so much as it is found when people research companies.

In those heat maps, the high is one color and the low is another. They never show that the actual difference is marginal.

These changes have slowly snuck up on us, but they mean the same thing: posting something at 10:01 a.m. on a Tuesday doesn’t mean anyone will see the post at 10:01 a.m. that Tuesday. In fact, they could see that post throughout the day or week.

And for those of you pointing to the mountain of slick infographics suggesting clear “best times to post,” let me ask you: do they ever state how much better it is to post at 2pm instead of 4pm? That heat map suggests a quantum shift in impact, where 2pm is bright red and 4pm is a much more sedate gray, but there is no data. In any heat map, the high is one color and the low is another. But they never state that the difference is marginal. Just because an art director picked dramatic colors doesn’t mean the difference is similarly dramatic. 060511_spiral_clock_1

This isn’t to say all your posts should go out at 2:30am, but there’s is virtually no difference between 8:00am and 9:32am and 10:15am. For a platform like LinkedIn, the disparity between when you post and when it is seen can be measured in days, not minutes. Posting at a given time may influence people the way that a 2-degree temperature drop might make 1 percent of people think about putting on a light sweater. If that’s what you’re worrying about, you’re worrying about the wrong things.

Looking at “best time to post” data is like looking at Poor Richard’s Almanac and trying to decide if you should carry an umbrella today.

Is there a solution? Yes. Build and publish better content. Tell better stories. Write and share something worth sharing.

You control the quality of your content. A mediocre story will never get shared regardless of when it was posted. A great story can have legs any time of day. Your investment in more engaging stories will pay off far more than worrying about the “best” posting time ever will.

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TMP Worldwide
Written by TMP Worldwide

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