Some days, you wake up with a brilliant idea for a post for your business Facebook page. You get into the office half an hour late due to traffic, but you write it and post it as soon as you’re in.
Other days, you struggle to come up with something to say. You barely have an idea until an hour before lunch, and by the time you’ve turned it into a post you’re happy with, the day is almost over. You post it up and forget all about it. It wasn’t great, no one will care.
Through it all, you pay attention to your analytics, but you can’t seem to draw any reasonable correlations between your posts and your engagement. Some posts you figured were plain excellent barely got a smidge of engagement. Others you fired off and forgot about performed better than anything you’ve posted before.
The problem is that you’re not paying attention to the times you’re posting. Think about when your users are using Facebook. Do they log on in the morning, once they get to work? Do they check it on their lunch break? Do they avoid the platform until work is over for the day and they’ve had time to hang out with their families and eat dinner? Are they night owls, staying up on Facebook until three in the morning?
A Bit About EdgeRank
Facebook shows posts in a loosely chronological order, in a sense. EdgeRank takes several factors into consideration when deciding which posts are going to show up to which users. One of those factors is connection to the poster, which you boost through engagement. One of those factors is age of the post. The longer your post has been live, the lower the chance it will be shown.
This means that when you just fire off a post in the middle of the night, by the time your users are logging on in the morning, the post is old and stale. They won’t see it. On the other hand, that post you fire off during your lunch break catches the rest of the lunch break crowd, and you gain a significantly higher engagement level.
How to Schedule a Post on Facebook
Thankfully, if all you’re using is Facebook, it’s easy to schedule a post. Just follow these steps:
- Write the text for your post. If you’re linking to a website, consider pasting in the link, waiting for the preview to generate, then removing the link. This makes the post look a little cleaner.
- Pick an image. You have three options here; you can pick from the images in the post chosen by Facebook, using the directional arrows. You can click to upload a specific image. Alternatively, you can use the Facebook open graph attributes on the site itself – if it’s your site – to specify an image to appear. You should use this third option whenever possible anyway, so when someone else shares your post, it appears properly.
- Customize the preview title and description by clicking and typing in each section. These are also controlled by the open graph attributes, so you can set them when you publish a post as well.
- Finally, choose a date and time to publish the post. Click the clock in the lower left corner of the update box to choose.
- Optionally, you can choose specific targeting options for the post. The target icon, next to the clock icon, controls this.
When your post is ready, press schedule to set it free.
Pick a Time
How do you know when you should schedule your posts? I could give you times, but they’re going to be variable depending on your audience. You’re going to have to do some testing and measurement to figure out when the best time of day – and day of the week, if you aren’t posting every day for some reason – is.
First, look at your audience. What are their demographics? What are their ages, their genders, their likes? You’ll need to spend some time considering what they do during the day, and when they are most likely to log on to Facebook for a few minutes. If your users are spread out around the world, you’ll have to take time zones into consideration. If they’re geographically situated nearby, you’ll just have to consider things like career, free time, family status and browsing habits.
You can also measure this through Insights. You can find a readout of your audience and their activity levels during the day. You’re going to want to schedule your posts just a few minutes before the peak, so that users are logging on and seeing your post as one of the first, most recent updates.
In general, you’ll want to look for times before they go to work, during their lunch hour, right after work before eating, and the end of the day before bedtime. When exactly those times are is variable.
You can get a lot of mileage out of scheduling your posts, but you can take it one step further by using one unified platform for all of your scheduling beyond just Facebook. There are a bunch of tools you can use for that purpose.
Which app you use is largely personal preference. They mostly have the same features, with a few unique selling points scattered throughout the list. For example, Seesmic works with multiple accounts, but you can barely run it on a mac without significant configuration. Timely helps you schedule your posts most effectively. Google Chrome has scheduling options for Google+, but they don’t work for other platforms. You can see a more complete table here.
Pick a tool, or test out several, and find one you like. You’ll want to run tests on each of your platforms, including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn, to find out when people are most active on each. Your audiences for each will be different, as will their browsing habits, so make the most of their unique features with scheduling.