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Take flight, social butterflies! This is the when and where of expert updating

social media updatingThe wonderful world of social media is pretty much the digital version of real life, and for some of us that means posting something, somewhere at all hours of the day. In order to keep up with all the status updates, links, snapshots, and tweets, you need to maximize your time, and share efficiently – sending thoughts out into the ether won’t do anyone any good.

Here’s a quick and easy how-to for you to follow so you can ensure all your posts on various social media sites get to the right people in a timely manner.

Know your topic and audience

I know you have a lot of important thoughts in your head just waiting to be unleashed, but here’s a dose of reality: Not everyone will care about whatever it is that you have to say. However, each and every one of your friends on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and other social sites will have a specific set of interests – if your post touches at least one of those interests, then it’s definitely worth posting.

After knowing what it is you’re sharing, the next step would be to figure out who would be interested in it and what they do on a regular basis. Are your close friends all stay-at-home moms or freelancers who would have a lot of online time on their hands, or are they Average Joes and Janes who maintain 9-to-5 jobs in an office environment? Anticipating the type of activities your contacts engage everyday in will enable you to properly time your posts to reach the most number of people who will give a damn about your latest vacation or that thought-provoking article you just read. Otherwise, your update will get overlooked and sadly exist quietly without a Like or RT to its name.

Know your network and time your posts accordingly

This is the most important step – the only step that matters, even. Knowing your audience is one thing, knowing the social network you intend to share to is quite another. Every person has a favorite site to go to for their dose of information overload, just like every social network has its own culture and user behavior. You need to study your friends list on every social site you have an account on and observe how your News Feed behaves on each one. Who posts most often on what site, and at what time of the day? What time zone do they follow?

This step actually goes hand in hand with the previous one – aside from knowing where your friends are when they use Facebook, you also need to take note of your most social media-active friends so you can take advantage of their heightened online presence. It’s a good practice to tag people on posts you think will either appreciate it more than most (and comment on it) or find it interesting enough to pass it on to their other friends. Once they comment or re-post your update, there’s a higher chance that your post will get more social media airtime.

Knowing where and what isn’t enough, you need to consider timing as well. According to various sources on the Internet, here are the best and worst times to post on the following popular social networks (all based on EST):

  • Facebook – Traffic on the god of all social networks is almost always atrociously high, but it’s most out of control between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. The best time to post that photo or link on Facebook would be between 1 p.m. and 4 p.m., especially on Wednesdays at 3 p.m., when most people are perusing their feeds on their breaks. Don’t bother posting between 8 p.m. and 8 a.m. – people will either be busy spending time with their families, engaging in offline activities, or sleeping. Posting on weekends is also generally discouraged because most people actually prefer to live life off the computer outside of work.
  • Twitter – Those who enjoy reading updates limited to 140 characters tend to do so from Monday to Thursday, after 11 a.m. The best time to post that Twitpic or RT is between 1 p.m. to 3 p.m., while the worst is from 8 p.m. to 9 a.m.. Traffic on the micro-blogging site starts to dwindle after 3 p.m., especially on a Friday, so try to get your tweet in before then.
  • LinkedIn – Linkedin is a social site mostly dominated by professionals with regular jobs, so of course it makes sense that traffic on this site is usually heavy before and after business hours, when users are not busy with their responsibilities – try to share posts between 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. or 5 p.m. to 6 p.m.. Anything you share between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. on a Monday or Friday will probably go under the radar.
  • Pinterest – This particular social network has a timing pattern that’s different from others – traffic tends to build up by 12 noon. It’s advisable to pin posts on Pinterest any time between 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. or 8 p.m. to 1 a.m. on weekdays, but if you want to reach the most users, Saturday morning is your best bet, as it is the site’s peak time. Traffic dies down after 5 p.m., so try not to hold off on your pins till late afternoon.
  • Tumblr – Compared to Facebook and Twitter, Tumblr is a whole different creature when it comes to social media activity – you should consider posting on the site after 4.pm. If you really want to get the most attention, make sure you post after 7 p.m., when Tumblrers are most active. And unlike most sites that discourage posting on weekends, the best time to post on Tumblr is actually on a Friday night. Those kids and their crazy late night, weekend-Tumblring.
  • Google+ – Yes, contrary to popular belief, Google+ has enough traffic to have its own “peak time” for posts, which is after 9 a.m. Unlike LinkedIn, the best time to post on Google+ is during work hours, specifically 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. Traffic peters out after 5 p.m., so don’t bother posting in the evenings.

Get extra serious

If you are in a profession where social media presence matters a whole lot, then you might want to consider using social media tools that will give you better insight on how your audience behaves. This is also particularly useful for social sites that have don’t necessarily have a best time to post since it’s determined on a user-to-user basis, like Instagram.

To track how many times your links are clicked, you can opt to use link shorteners like Bitly or Ow.ly. This will enable you to find out which social network you have the most reach in.

If you want to maximize your social media accounts, there are special sites that offer a variety of services. SocialBro has a “best time to tweet” daily report that analyzes your Twitter followers’ timelines and lets you know the exact right moment you can reach the maximum number of people that will provide you with retweets and replies. Timing+ does the same for people who prefer using Google+. As for Instagram, Statigram will provide you a rolling month analysis of your account, analyze your usage, and show you a graph that will help you optimize your account.

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If you want a one-stop shop to monitor your influence on all your social media activity, you can sign up for a Klout account.

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