Marketing Series: How Often Should I Post?

You’re trying to figure out how often to post. So you do an interwebs search, and presto! you’re more confused. This post says if you’re a small business, do that. If you’re big, do this other thing. Post at this time because people check their social media when they get up (and this makes sense since the earth is flat and there’s one time zone and everyone gets up at the same time🤔). Let’s talk about some of the mechanics of social media to begin to make sense out of all of this advice.

The Magical Time to Post

My sarcasm about the perfect time to post may have given you insight into my thoughts on the subject. I’m not sure there is a magical time. But, I do think that understanding how people generally use and engage in social media (behavior patterns) is a very good idea.

There are a number of things that will either encourage/allow you to check your phone. There are a number of things that will prevent it. In addition to differing time zones, you also have to think about people’s social media viewing habits.

Let’s take a look at me for a moment. I check mine when I get up and drink my morning brew. If I get pinged, I usually feel compelled to check. When I’m in between tasks I check. When I worked in an office, I was limited to lunch time, but since I’ve become a stay at home my pattern has changed. There was I time I belonged to the office worker pattern of social media consumption. Now I belong to the stay at home pattern of consumption. My lifestyle has dictated how I view social media. I’m the same person, but I have belonged to two different lifestyle groups: office worker and stay at home mom. My lifestyle has changed my viewing habits.

Social media viewing occurs 24/7. Who is on social media at any given time depends on a number of factors. Time zone. Life style. And more … we’re not going to talk about that here. We will when I talk about the magic of subgroups in another post. (It’s magical because it’s something I geek out on.) The point here though is that there is no magical time. But, you can find the best time for you and your audience. We will talk about that later.

How many posts a day?

Do you ever get to the place, say on Instagram, where it says, you’ve now caught up, meaning you got through all of the posts on your feed that are there at that moment? Probably not. I haven’t since I first signed up for Instagram. The order of posts on any of your feeds depends on the social media’s algorithm.

Let me BRIEFLY explain what an algorithm. It is a step-by-step guide for a computer to do stuff, based on information that the computer can analyze. So what? One of the so-what’s is that an algorithm can have a step that moves a post up or down based on hidden things.

The goal is to always be at the top of a feed, so that people see your post before they give up and go and do stuffs. The algorithm that drives this changes. When you hear, social media giant X is working on improving their users’ experience. They are fussing with the algorithm. Often times, it’s secret; making advice on tricking the algorithm have a short shelf life of usefulness. So there is no long lasting magical incantation to trick the algorithm. But, there is a way for you to figure it out. We will talk about that in this post.

How to stay current on “half-life” of posts

One thing that I find useful is staying on top of the “half-life” of posts. Why? Because it helps you to decide how many posts you should do in a day to stay at or above “the noise.”

What is this mysterious noise level you ask? It the number of posts just below not being lost in the crowd. Think of it as just below boiling temperature. I would use it as guidelines for the number of posts a day. One study/article wrote that Twitter has a half-life of 15 minutes. That means that after 15 minutes the post will either get lost in the crowd and/or get stale. This means that you can expect most of the engagement of a single post to last for about 15 minutes. This would indicate that for Twitter, you should post frequently.

Posts don’t have to be original content. In fact, you don’t want them to be. (Besides the time investment of creating that much original content, there are benefits to other kinds of posts. I’ve touched on this a bit, but will write more about it in a post on making friends on social media.) What is the important piece about posts if you’re not putting out all original content? The number of posts with your name on it is the important piece, including reposting, sharing articles, puppy pictures, etc.

You want your name out there at just above noise level. (I’ll write a post about a persuasive technique called repetition, and the mechanics of repeating yourself for persuasive purposes.)

For Twitter, the last study I read, it was about 12-15 tweets a day. Even though the half-life would suggest that you put something out every 15 minutes. You want people to miss you (ie., don’t make people sick of you). Facebook and Instagram was about 4-5 posts a day.

You’ll want to experiment with how much original content you do, how much selling you do *, and how much reposting.

*You don’t want to be that annoying friend from high school you have not talked to in 20 years who only calls to sell you apple scented snow shovels. It’s a good idea not to just sell, sell, sell.

What do I do to figure out if I am doing okay in engagement?

These are the things that I look at.

  1. Number of likes
  2. Number of comments
  3. Posts with the most likes/least likes
  4. Comments from new people
  5. Posts that get profile visits (or other actions)

Number of LIKES

Likes are the easiest way to engage in a post for the person looking at posts. You don’t even have to really read a post. I look at this to judge if people are at least slowing down enough to like my post, as they scroll through their feeds. I’m assuming that they are trying to show support, maintain a social connection, like the content, or some other reason. Because liking is so easy to do, the performance ratings in your social media analytics don’t weigh the likes as much as comments.

Number of Comments

Social media analytics will weigh comments more than likes, even if it is just a conversation with one person; this will increase the performance ratings of that post. So when I’m looking at my posts, I see which ones are getting the most comments, and what exactly they are responding too. To experiment, I might post different aspects of the post again to see if they get similar responses. Maybe it was a lengthy caption, maybe it was the image, maybe it was asking people about likes and dislikes (I’ve noticed complaints get more responses than likes), … and so on. I brainstorm about what the aspects might be (I hypothesize), then I generate content that I hope is similar and see how it does. Do I do this all the time? No way. I have a toddler. But, I think that it’s important to do periodically.

Which Comments Get Likes and Comments from New People

This is a good indicator (beyond the analytics that social media provides) of whether or not you are expanding your audience. Did you break through the same circle that you usually reach. This is one way to increase the number of followers is by reaching new social networks. You may not keep them, if the post that initially caught their eye was unique in its appeal. But, it is interesting to take note of such posts.

I look to see if I used new hashtags, new content, etc. I compare the posts to similarly well performing posts to see if there are any differences. I do this every … so often-ish. When I feel like it. If I were actually doing this for a job, I’d be tracking the posts, collecting data, and running analyses often. But, I’m just a mom, doing her thing, and raising the cutest child ever.

Which Posts Get Profile Visits

This gets to the heart of why you are doing what you are doing. You want your posts to inspire action. The action that you really want is for people to buy your story, read it, and review it. To buy, read, and review a book takes more than one step (compare this to liking and commenting). So for someone to visit your profile, you’re interesting them enough to take a few steps.

What Has Been My Experience

I’ve noticed for mine for a while my shout outs were getting a lot of engagement. So I keep that up, and now some of my engagement comes from other posts. But don’t do content only to get attention. Post because you’re into whatever it is you’re doing, but optimize you engagement by experimenting with the number of posts and the types of posts. You’ll also want to review this weekly-ish. I do it every few days, but it’s because I geek out on figuring out why people do what they do. For most people though, I think every week to two week-ish is good enough. But, this is also something to experiment with.

Take away point

Like most human interactions, this is all about a give and take. You throw this out there, the joke lands, your child smiles, your partner laughs … or it doesn’t. Stay flexible. Your actual goal for worrying about how many posts a day is maintaining and increasing engagement. So track it and experiment with it. You can do it.

How To Stay On Top of the Current “Half-Life” of Posts

If you’re wondering how to stay on top of post half life, go to Google Scholar and search for social media post half-life (I hate myself for giving them a shout out, but there you are). You can limit the years, so limit it to the last year. What you’re looking for is probably in the “abstract” or “conclusion.” If you can’t make heads or tales, ping me. I’ll post the answer on my blog or just talk with you directly. Or maybe I can add that as a series of posts… ? …

Finally, How Many Posts Should You Do A Day

You want to stay at or just above noise level. The last numbers I read about for Facebook and Instagram is 4-5 a day. For Twitter, you’re going to want to do 12-15 a day. The content doesn’t have to be all original. You want to make sure that most of your posts are not your trying to sell yourself or your book. Reposting others or having content that is not really related to your book is good. I do quote collages that I create. Feel free to repost any of my quote collages. With Instagram at the time of writing this blog, you need an app to do that. Make sure that you regularly evaluate your posts to see which ones do well. Be authentic, but you can still be authentic and optimize what people like.

When you’re making your social media strategy plan, be realistic in how much time you have to maintain that profile. Whatever profile you spend your time on will do better. If you don’t have time to do Twitter 12-15 times a day. Don’t do Twitter. In the game of marketing without a lot of money, you will need spend time doing it. But, you can be smart about it. I’ll write more about this in future posts.

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