Many different elements can influence a social media strategy. Most of them rely on anecdotal evidence -- often the result of trial-and-error initiatives. While there’s nothing wrong with using experimental outcomes to plan how to use social media to reach customers, it also helps to use actual data.

Tweet at the Right Time

According to Dan Zarrella, a social media researcher with HubSpot, who has been mining data on hundreds of millions of tweets, blog posts and email newsletters to help marketers find trends, we have a better idea about when social media is most effective.

Of course, two years' worth of data is only as good as your goals. If you’re trying to accumulate as many followers as possible, Zarrella’s data shows that those who have the most followers tweet an average of 22 times a day, and more tweets generally lead to more followers. Yet, if you’re trying to drive more traffic to your site, the data shows that you might want to be more strategic with your tweets -- accounts that share two or more links an hour show a dramatically lower click through rate than those who share no more than one.

Fill the Void, Not Add to the Noise

It’s hard to find a marketer whose social media strategy isn’t based on engaging users through intuition, so it may not be easy to understand a social media strategy that’s based on reaching people when the noise of the crowd has died down.

Afternoons are best, when blogs and news sites are slower, and the weekend, when people’s routines slow down. Zarrella’s analysis found that retweet activity is highest late in the workday, between 2 and 5 p.m., with 4 p.m. being the sweet spot. You might consider using a new tool, TweetWhen, which Zarrella created to tell Twitter users what days and times yield the most retweets.

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TweetWhen results for

Benefit from Users' Downtime

Essentially, when traditional media sees a drop in engagement, Twitter sees an increase in clickthroughs. Weekend mornings, when online newspapers lose visitors, Twitter gets more. The same goes for Facebook, where comment activity also jumps dramatically.

It’s easy to report about when social media marketing is most effective -- but other than posting updates at different times, what else can you do? Consider the following:

  • Double Feature -- Tweet the same links two or three times a day; only a fraction of your followers will see it the first time
  • Email more -- Those who unsubscribe will do so regardless of how many you send
  • Embrace the weekends -- Readers are more likely to open an email newsletter and click links on weekends

Whether you choose to reorganize your social media strategy based on this data is up to you. However, it does behoove you to figure out how best to reach your users, when it’s convenient for them -- not you.