When’s the best time for email or social media?

With most of us using email and social media – such as LinkedIn and Twitter – to send out messages, what’s the best time of day (or day of the week) to do it? There are a number of authoritative-sounding survey reports online, but I have serious doubts about their applicability to any of our individual businesses. It’s one of those decisions that a bit of testing might help with, but we may also have to rely on some intuition about the nature of the markets we serve.

Email is the easiest to test, if you have a decent-sized list. This can easily be split up randomly and the same email sent to the different segments at various times and days. Click-through responses and even open rates can be compared at a glance. Most people read all of their email, so don’t dismiss sending messages out of business hours – the email will probably be one of the first read the next day, and it may well be that first thing in the morning is a good time to catch your prospects.

If you send out frequent, regular emails, my experience over the years has certainly been that keeping the time and day consistent is the key. I’m not suggesting that recipients will be hanging around, eagerly awaiting your email, but if they’re used to receiving it at a certain time they’ll be much more well-disposed to seeing it in their inboxes.

I think that LinkedIn posts are fairly time-insensitive, as followers will just see new articles in their notifications whenever they choose to access their account. However, it may be sensible to avoid the times when competitors post things: maybe that’s something you can investigate.

Finally, Twitter can be great if you hit the sweet spot, but it’s very hard to know when that is, or to test it (as you can’t split the audience like you can with emails). Some users who don’t follow many others might well scroll through a whole day’s Tweets every evening; others who follow hundreds of people might check Twitter several times a day and still miss most of the stuff whizzing past on their timeline. Your own followers are likely to include both groups. Don’t be afraid to post the same message in different forms on more than one occasion though.