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Tick, Tock, Time to Post That Doc

Understand the best time to post content to your site.

If content is ‘king’ and usability is the ‘queen” (according to my good friend Matthew Capala), then timing would be the spoiled prince. One who, if not attended to at the right time is not going to be a happy camper.

Although good content will always be seen — how much of the content you produce is truly the cream of the crop? Having your good content seen faster and by a more engaged audience can help you gain traction, and that all comes down to timing. According to several sources the most optimal time to post content is during the week, favoring Wednesday and Friday, between the hours of 11am and 1pm.

This should be accounted for in your content strategy, which should detail your audience and present solutions for reaching them.

Audience Pic 5.22.13

Know Your Audience

The only way to find out what time is best to post your content is by doing research on your particular site. Internally, at iAcquire, we have discussions as far as the timing of the post and which segment of our audience we are trying to target. We know when our individual segments are active, and we work our schedule around that information. We also take into consideration what type of content we are posting, and when those particular content types have historically performed well.

The more thought-provoking pieces of content are normally posted at 11am, before people get into their lazy, post-lunch slumps.

However entertaining, comical pieces of content can be posted later in the day. The reasoning behind this is these posts are have a higher rate of shareability, that not only resonates with the segments in our audience but with visitors who are not entirely familiar with the iAcquire brand.

The key to know the best time to post is knowing your audience. I’ve created several personas for us to use in-house that details demographic data, job title, content consumption level, social and online presence. This was done to give us a clear understanding of who our audience is, along with when they are more likely to consume and share content.

Consistency is Key

Like making perfect cake batter, creating content is all about consistency. It has been well documented that sites who do not have consistent posting schedule tend to lose roughly 25%-35% readership over time.

While most of sites don’t have the reach ESPN does, their particular peak time of activity is 11am. Unless a major story breaks or they are recapping a game, almost all their content is posted to their site around 11am. They know their audience, and they stick to familiar schedules. Their audience is able to fall into a routine schedule, and find the content they want.

While this timing convention may seem like the norm in most industries, this isn’t the norm across the board, though it should be. There are a million other websites that post content throughout the day with the notion that their audience will engage with the content on the publisher’s haphazard schedule. This is not the case. Traditional models of publishing (think newspaper and magazines) created readerships through consistent publishing schedules. We should follow that example.

Iacquire GA data 5.22.13

We also have bought into these implied laws of posting, with a large majority of our content being posted throughout the week around 12pm. But we save our home run content for Wednesdays or Thursdays because that is when our content is most likely to gain visibility.

But those days are the industry standard. For most publishers, Mondays between 10am and 11am is usually the best time to capture views on a blog post – however the spike resulting from this increased viewership is only about 20%. Maintaining that 20% beginning-of-the-week bump throughout the rest of the week is tough unless you’re a news site, and something major happens. In that case all the rules go out the window, and the first publisher on the scene gets the prize pig.

Nevertheless, posting at a peak time does have serious perks – such as increased comments and engagement. Just remember that you’re also competing with all of the other publishers that have their eyes on the clock. Monitor your competitors, and make sure you’re not posting the same sort of content around the same time, unless you stand to gain from riding their momentum.

Odd Hours Have Their Benefits, Too

There is no clear cut way to beat internet the content rush during the day — it’s always going to be there. However you can target an entirely different segment if you post in the evening. Night-owl posting does have some clear cut advantages –- namely less competition. It seems, for the most part, that the Internet has a bedtime. So if you can be one of the few websites posting fresh content at 8pm on Wednesday, you can create a very niche audience with a high returning viewership.

This works particularly well with male-focused content — especially video. Men are 20% more likely to view video content at night than women. Just remember that a niche audience rarely spells high traffic — at least in the beginning, since those audiences take time to build.

You can also post content over the weekend. As a matter of fact, Saturday may be the best time to post if you want to increase the level of engagement and comments on your website, as opposed to just traffic. People are 67% more likely to comment on a blog on a Saturday.

With all that said, the most reliable time to post content is between 10am and 12pm Monday through Friday. 65% people who surf the internet visit their preferred blogs in the morning.

If you’re posting video content, Monday is an ideal day to post – but videos perform better in the afternoon between 1pm and 3pm. Monday morning would be the best time to post content but if you miss that window, don’t worry. Your post can still be published in the afternoon, just be prepared to see less engagement.

Social Hours

Social media has its own peak times. Facebook traffic, for instance, begins to increase around 9am, and it peaks midday. However its highest spikes occur midweek between 1pm and 3pm.

iAcq Followerwonk 5.21.13

Twitter interaction on the other hand peaks between 9am and 3pm, Monday through Thursday, and most of the activity that occurs on Google Plus is during work hours, with its peak engagement between 9am and 10am. And the best day to post on Google Plus is Wednesday.

Tumblr is a completely different beast, so please disregard everything I said about the best time to post for those other social media outlets. Your go-to day/time is Friday at 7pm. Not only because this is the ideal time Megan Brown is sending me some random dog related .gif, but because you’ll actually see the highest level of engagement with your audience during this period.

There is no exact time to post content. You can post content at Miller Time, or during the witching hour and still see success. It solely depends on your audience. Follow your audience, learn their behavior, and you will have success.

Have you had any success posting to your blog at any particular times? Let me know in the comments section, and I’ll get back at you.

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