In last week’s Social Media for Beginners blog we talked about where to get ideas for content and how to create that content. This week we’re going to focus in on scheduling content. We’ll talk about how often to post, when to post, and the importance of scheduling.
How Often Should I Post?
Everyone wants to know how often they should post. Unfortunately, there isn’t a hard and fast rule for this. There is no formula. There are however a few things to keep in mind that might help you figure out the perfect number for you.
How Much Time Do You Have?
You might find it odd that I would tell you to think about how much time you have to devote to your content but this is honestly the first and possibly most important question for those creating and posting for themselves. Creating content takes time. Scheduling it out and monitoring it also takes time. The more times a week you post, the more time you’ll have to spend preparing that content.
You might be one of those people who says, “I’ll do whatever is best and I’ll make time” and while I admire your ambition if you burn yourself out your content will suffer, you’ll run out of ideas, you’ll be frustrated, and eventually stop posting altogether and what good does that do?
While it is true that the more you post the more engagements and impressions you’ll get, if your content suffers and your audience loses interest then you’ll likely have less people who see the things that you really want them to see. Find your line. It’s a balancing act. More often than not, consistency is more important than quantity.
How Much Content Do You Have to Work With?
Knowing what content you have to work with is also helpful in determining how often you should post. For example, if you only have one product to promote and that product isn’t very multifaceted, then it might be difficult to come up with quality content daily. No one wants to see a picture of the cover of your book every day with a new reason why they should buy it.
However, if you have a lot of material to work with and you want to get it out there in a timely manner then posting more often might be good for you. This is especially true if you have time sensitive information.
In general a good rule of thumb is to try and post 2-3 times a week. This is frequent enough that you should be able to get important information out there and also have some room to try new content and post engaging posts that aren’t necessarily information based.
When Should I Post?
Once again, the answer here is that it depends, but luckily there are some tools out there to help you decide what’s best for your business. Keep in mind however that these tools are only available for business pages so if you’re going to be using your social platform to promote your business, it would be helpful to claim it as a business profile (more on that in another blog).
On most all social media platforms there is an option called insights in your dashboard. Insights gives you information about how your content is performing and who your audience is. It even tells you when the majority of your audience is online.
For Facebook, you’d click insights at the top of your business page and then click posts on the sidebar. This will then take you to a screen that looks like this.
As you can see this, gives you a chart that shows you what time the majority of your followers are online on any given day. You can also choose specific days if you’d like to be even more fine tuned in your posting. This is our Dogwood page and based on this graph the best times for us to post during the business day would be around 8 am and noon to about 5 pm (make sure you notice that the times on the graph are in Pacific time zone).
You can also do this on Instagram. It looks a little different but the principle still applies. Go to your profile and click the menu button in the top right corner. Tap insights and click audience. Then scroll to the bottom of the page and you can now switch between days to see what times your followers are most active.
This is our Dogwood Instagram insight for Mondays. For us, posting from 12 pm to 9 pm would be best.
If this seems like way too much work for you, there are scheduling tools that will tell you the optimal send time for each message but they are far from free. Sprout Social starts at $149 per user/month. While it is on the expensive side it’s worth the price for the optimal send times, reporting functions, and more.
Why are Schedules Important?
Last but not least, we’ll talk about scheduling and why it’s important. The big answer is, scheduling is important because your time is important. As I’m sure you’ve figured out by now, keeping up a beneficial social media presence is not an easy job. It takes time, effort, and planning. The more you schedule the more of your time you’re able to spend on your business.
Scheduling doesn’t have to be hard either. Tools like Sprout Social and Hootsuite will post your content automatically once scheduled. By taking an hour or two to schedule out your week of content, you’re saving yourself a lot of time. Now you don’t have to stop 2-3 times a week, think up content, create the graphics you need or find the pictures, find optimal send times and get it sent out.
If you don’t like the price tag of Sprout Social, then get a free Hootsuite account. It allows you to schedule content for 3 profiles and up to 30 messages at a time. Take an hour or two and schedule out your week. If you’re feeling really productive, take the time to schedule an entire month. You can then supplement with current content as you go. This will save you a lot of time and ensure that you don’t get behind on posting.
There’s a lot to consider when figuring out how often you should post and when. However, one thing is for sure, scheduling content is your friend! As with all things, it takes time and effort to do anything well. You’re not going to stumble into a great social media presence.
The good news is, there are tools to help make things easier and if at any point you’d like some professional help, Dogwood would be more than happy to talk to you about setting up a social media contract!