Social

What’s the best day and time to publish content?

By Shane Snow June 10th, 2011

In the increasingly real-time ecosystem of the web, relevance is about exposure, and exposure is all about timing.

A blogger might spend three hours crafting a thoughtful post, even more if he’s interviewing someone. Those three hours can pay immense dividends – especially if the post is part of a consistent editorial strategy – in terms of traffic, engagement, and increased brand awareness for the blog. However, if that post goes live at the wrong time (say, 2am on a Saturday), the reward for those 3 hours may be crickets.*

At least two factors play into the timing of content meant for the social web: 1) When the content is actually posted; and 2) When the content is promoted (Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, Reddit, HackerNews, Yahoo Buzz, wherever). Often, past content can be revived through social promotion, whether naturally by readers (which underscores the importance of internal linking, so your readers can find old content) or through your own promotional efforts.

The New York-based startup, SocialFlow, illustrates this idea well. SocialFlow is a social media optimization tool by the guys behind Bit.ly and Chartbeat; it analyzes the real-time stream of conversations on Twitter and tells you when you should tweet links to your content, based on who among your audience is online and what they are talking about at the moment. When your message is competing with 140 million other tweets a day, it’s increasingly easy to get lost in the stream.

So when should you publish?

According to an analysis of 170,000 blog posts by Hubspot, the best days to publish for maximum views and links appear to be Monday and Thursday, and mornings are better than evenings.

However, Saturdays and Sundays are much higher for commenting (which makes sense, more people have time to engage without looking over their shoulder for their boss).

Here’s a great visualization depicting Hubspot’s findings.

day_hour_infographic-resized-600

Further research by Dan Zarrella, a scientist at Hubspot, posted on Problogger, shows that while more people read content in the mornings, more people retweet links to stories in the afternoons. Facebook sharing tends to pick up on weekends, and Twitter sharing spikes on Fridays.

fbs

Of course, the optimum day and time for you to publish your content will vary based on your audience and the type of content you’re producing. (If you publish video, for example, you may have less success with the “bored at work” network in the middle of the workday, due to sound giving away your users’ slacker-ness to their bosses.) In order to determine your optimal timing, you’ll need to gather data, which means publishing a lot and measuring results.

The best day to publish is EVERY day

Consistent publishing is more important than the timing of individual posts. According do Yahoo link data, publishers who post frequently increase their links (and therefore traffic) significantly.

Our Advice:
1. Consistency trumps perfect timing. Publish often for best results.

  1. More people read blogs on Mondays and Thursdays than other days, so if you have to choose a blind date to publish, choose those days.
  2. Publish in the morning, and promote your content on social media a second time in the afternoon for maximum exposure.
  3. Focus on Fridays if you have to choose a day to promote on Twitter and Facebook.
  4. Your audience may not be “average.” Measure your content’s performance to discover your own optimal timing.

*It’s also worth noting that one of the strengths of content as a marketing tool is the fact that every piece of content you produce becomes a permanent asset. Unlike paying for a TV spot or banner ad, your web content lives forever. So, even if your timing is off, you still retain value in the content you produce.

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