Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Webinar Recap: The Science Of Timing With Dan Zarella

I listened in on a webinar about social media and marketing, "The Science of Timing," given by Dan Zarrella, the author of The Social Media Marketing Book and The Facebook Marketing Book. Dan studies the data surrounding social media behavior and educates marketers on best practices. The webinar discussed the best times to Tweet, post status updates on Facebook, post blog entries, and send email marketing blasts. Social media "noise" is similar to the din at a cocktail party - when you deliver content in the more silent times you have a better chance of being heard. However, these times also naturally have less traffic. Thus a paradox arises that Zarrella called the idea of “contra-competitive timing.” Does a post get more attention when things are quieter and it is more noticeable, or when more people are available to read it and it gets more natural traffic? Some platform-specific data results:

TWITTER


  • Retweets are diurnal as opposed to nocturnal – more retweets happen during the day. The hours between 2:00 p.m. and 5:00 p.m. are when retweet traffic is highest.

  • Retweets happen more frequently later in the week. (To discover which of your tweets have the most retweets, go to tweetwhen.com.)

  • Click-thru-rates for links remain consistent throughout the day and spike slightly around 5:00 p.m.

  • Frequent tweets about the same subject have low click-thru-rates. If you are promoting one event or site, don't crowd your content, "let it breathe a little" instead.

The takeaway: Tweet more. If you're posting useful and interesting tweets, you can't post too many times, so post frequently!

FACEBOOK Facebook pages that post every other day have a better follow-rate. It is much easier to flood your friend's streams on Facebook than in Twitter. Content is published more on the weekdays on Facebook (many employers block access at work), but many more stories are shared among friends on the weekends.

EMAIL MARKETING


  • The majority of people spend the most time with email in the morning and data shows a big drop off at night.

  • People are more likely to flag your marketing emails as spam (click abuse reports/ spam report/ junk email) on Saturdays and Sundays.

  • Bounce rates (when your marketing emails do not get through to the intended recipient) are higher on Saturdays and Sundays.

  • Open rates are much higher on the weekends. Marketing emails will get more attention on the weekend, but so do all the other emails sent by other marketers.

  • Emails are most likely to be opened by the recipient between the hours of 5:00 a.m. to 7:00 a.m.

  • Marketing emails sent 1x/month have the highest click-thru-rates.

  • Click-thru-rates for marketing emails are highest on the weekends.

  • If you increase the frequency of your marketing email blasts, data shows there is no loss of interest (click-thru-rates) from recipients. Rates are about the same for emails sent 3x/month as they are for 30x/month

  • Unsubscribe rates are highest with fewer emails per month. People will unsubscribe from your marketing email list whether you send frequently or not. They will make a quick decision soon after they subscribe about whether they want to receive your news.

  • Data shows that the more recent the subscriber, the more they click on your email links and the more frequently they unsubscribe. So it makes sense to send your best offers and high-value news to new subscribers.

The takeaway: don't be afraid to send email campaigns out more frequently – data shows that your list members want to hear from you!

BLOGGING


  • Page views for blogs take a dip on Saturdays.

  • Blog post comments spike on Saturdays and Sundays because people have more free time to write and post comments.

  • Posts around 10:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m. get the most views. Early morning 5:00 a.m. posts have the lowest statistics for views.

  • Posts published between 6:00 a.m. – 7:00 a.m. have the best chance of becoming source material for the “linkerati.” (Linkerati are their own class of writers who blog for work and link to other blogs.)

  • Posts published on Mondays and Thursdays are also most frequently referenced by the linkerati.

  • Blogs posted more than 1x/day are by far the most referenced and have the most unique page views.

The takeaway: blog more and know your audience. Your target audience data should support your timing strategy.

GENERAL TIPS


  • Since almost half of the population of the United States lives in the EST zone, Zarrella recommends using this time zone when targeting a national audience.

  • To track click-thru-rates on a bit.ly link, add a + sign after your bit.ly url (for example, http://bit.ly/gxeaQa+). This generates statistics for that particular link.

To summarize, research supports Tweeting more, updating the Facebook status on a Fan page no more than every other day, increasing the frequency of marketing emails and updating a blog once a day. A replay of this webinar is available with a link to the slideshow here. Enjoy!

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