Schools must have a social media marketing strategy, but balancing social media with all the daily tasks you have often feels impossible. If you tilt one way, you end up falling into the social media blackhole and losing hours of your day when you should have been focusing on work. If you lean the other way, it is easy to neglect a valuable tool for connecting with prospective students. Life would be so much easier if you knew where and when you should post, but that’s just a dream … or is it?
Finding the best times to post is tricky. One expert will emphatically claim that you should post on Twitter at 5 p.m. on Thursday while another expert will say 3 p.m. on Monday — and every variation of social media has different recommended times. Deciphering the data can be mind-numbing. The times you determine to be the best based on generalized data, might not be the best for your school.
TrackMaven analyzed over 17,000 brands and 17.5 million social media posts to be able to breakdown industry specific days and times to post. In higher education the best time to post on social media are:
Facebook: Tuesday 7 p.m.
Instagram: Thursday 5 p.m.
LinkedIn: Monday 2 p.m.
Twitter: Tuesday 5 p.m.
The best times for the retail industry to post are:
Facebook: Monday 1 a.m.
Instagram: Tuesday 1 p.m.
LinkedIn: Thursday 1 p.m.
Twitter: Friday 11 a.m.
Pinterest: Tuesday 9 p.m.
Which category best suits a school? On the one hand, you are talking primarily to students. However, you mainly want to target prospective students. Posting at the suggested retail times might work better. You could go back and forth on this for hours without finding a definitive answer, and that’s okay because it is social media. No rule says you can only post at these times. In fact, I would recommend against it.
One of the aspects of social media that make it hard to pin down is that it is fluid. There aren’t guaranteed times for interaction etched in stone. These times are a great jumping off point, but they shouldn’t limit what you do.
Make a social media calendar. Include these times (for both groups), plus some other times and schedule out as many posts as you can. At the end of the week go back and review each post. Check the total reach, the number of likes and the number of comments. Record that data along with what type of information shared. As you do this week to week, you will start seeing trends. Maybe when you post information about sales or coupons in the morning, they do better than in the evening. Or maybe the times listed are, in fact, the best ones for you.
Developing a formula based on your data is the best social media plan. While knowing the day and time that you post is important, so is the content. Be consistent in your posts and don’t get discouraged. Interaction doesn’t change overnight. It takes patience and determination to develop and engage a fanbase. That’s why a plan helps. If you know you want to post three times a day, spend an hour one day a week on scheduling 21 posts — statuses, links, pictures, memes, anything you think your followers might like. Get in the habit of doing it every week.
Once you have a good feel for the baseline of interaction, start establishing social media goals. Do you want interaction and engagement? Do you want more followers? Do you want more people to use your online coupons? Set your expectations and then adjust what you do until you start getting the results you want.Unfortunately, no secret formula will work for everyone. However, with enough effort, you will find the one the works for you.