To keep your business running and growing, you need to be talking to your customers constantly—or do you?
These days, with so much communication flying in all directions, being seen, heard and remembered has become a challenge for businesses. You feel you have to shout all day and night to get noticed.
You're battling on an overcrowded social media stage where nonstop messaging is coming from a myriad of sources. The secret to rising above the chatter might be in your timing.
Work to understand who your customers are, what their habits are and how you can establish an engagement method that works to their rhythm
There are definitely good and bad times to put your message out there. Here are some ways to develop an instinct and rhythm for connecting with your customers in this social-saturated world.
Focus on customers, not competitors
When vying for customers' attention, it's natural to try to out do others who are, likewise, trying to attract that potential buyer. This often leads to fixating on what the competition is doing rather than focusing on what the customer is really wanting.
Work to understand who your customers are, what their habits are and how you can establish an engagement method that works to their rhythm.
How? For starters, if you're using Facebook, start with the Facebook insights information to find a gender and age breakdown of those who "like" your page.
While this data isn't foolproof, it can give you clarity in who you're entertaining and if you're reaching who you intended to reach. Armed with this information, you can continue to research consumer and leisure habits of your audience segments.
The 'power hour'
Once you begin to understand your audience, you can begin to determine the best time to post your updates. Are your customers 9-to-5'ers, students, retirees?
How you understand their typical schedules (as a general customer segment) helps you decide when you should post messages they'll most likely see within about a hour's time or less. Choosing that magic "power hour," however, isn't an exact science. It requires basic knowledge about your audience regarding their social media usage habits.
Thankfully, some studies have done much of this research for you. For example, a 2013 report from IDC Research revealed that:
80 percent of smartphone users check their phones within 15 minutes of waking up each day
- 80 percent of smartphone users check their phones within 15 minutes of waking up each day.
- 79 percent of adults keep their phones in reach 22 hours a day.
- Adults average 87 minutes engaged in messaging and social media updates Monday through Thursday. From Friday through Sunday that time nearly doubles to 160 minutes per day.
From those statistics, it's clear your audience is connected. Now all you have to do is connect with them.
Picking a prime time
The next task is to decide when your updates will stand the best chance to be seen while your audience is actively engaged.
Those previous stats are encouraging because they conclude that your potential customers and other followers can be connected all day, every day (no longer dependent upon a desktop computer or even a now-clunky laptop, additional data indicating that more people access Facebook and other social hubs via a mobile device than any other means).
With that, you can work from this next level of insight:
- Posting updates first thing in the morning (before 8:30 a.m.) will stand the best chance to connect with those who check newsfeeds before their workdays begins.
- Posting lunchtime updates can be seen by those who perform a midday check of social media.
- Posting after-work updates (but before dinnertime) can catch the attention of those in the end-of-day commute. Hopefully while they're riding, not driving.
- Posting on the weekend seems to promise the most active audience, though you'll need to consider many others (your competitors, for example) are also targeting this time period. It may suit you to post a bit off-peak in this case.
With this information, begin experimenting with the timing of your updates then watch your response activity to chart when seems to be the best time for your customers and followers. Continue to adjust your timing based on your customer engagement to find that power hour.
Begin experimenting with the timing of your updates then watch your response activity to chart when seems to be the best time for your customers and followers
Making the best connections
But timing isn't necessarily everything. What you post is as important—maybe even more so—than when you post.
As you learn about when your audience is most likely to receive your updates, you'll also discover which updates bring about the most responses in way of "likes," "shares" or other positive engagement.
Here are a few tips to help get the most traction from your well-timed posts:
- Establish a mix of updates to post each week, ensuring variety and avoiding a repetitive "try our business, buy our product" drone.
- Talk about what you're selling only once or twice a week. Use the other days to talk about your customers, their engagement in your business and how they might even be contributing to what you do.
- Ask questions of your followers to allow them to sound off about what they like in your updates, what they'd like to see more and possibly what they'd like to see less.
It all boils down to this: The success of your social updates rests on your ability to catch your followers' attention. That requires you to understand whom your customers are, the best times to engage them and the most compelling information to serve to them.
Take the time to do your research then work to adjust and perfect your method. Your followers will surely see you're working for their benefit, and that's something that will capture their attention every time.
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Dennis L. Prince has been analyzing and advocating the e-commerce sector since 1996. He has published more than 12 books on the subject, including How to Sell Anything on eBay…and Make a Fortune, second edition (McGraw-Hill, 2006) and How to Make Money with MySpace (McGraw-Hill, 2008). His insight is actively sought within online, magazine, television and radio venues.
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