Social media is becoming one of the most popular marketing tools around. No wonder because it’s efficient and cost-effective. Virtually every demographic is using some sort of social media making it the best new thing since the TV ad. It can help your business engage with your customers and build brand identity.

The question is when and how frequently should you post? There is no simple answer, social media management is complicated. If you aren’t posting your content at the right time or frequency, all the energy you used to craft a witty tweet or create the perfect Instagram photo could go to waste. The answer is unique for every business, however there are a few general rules that you can follow to help optimize your use of social media and connect with your audience.

Knowledge is Power: Do some Research

When writing a social media plan, you first need to do some research. Take the time to get to know your customers social media habits. Who is your target audience? If you are a local coffee shop, you are probably trying to drive business in the morning, afternoon, and weekends. Your customers in the morning are interested in grabbing a pick-me-up before work. Most likely, they have a smartphone and check their social media channels soon after they wake up. Posting to Facebook in the morning about the delicious new coffee special and scone you have available could give your potential customer the right push to walk in your café.

Timing is Everything: Be Consistent and Optimize

As social media has exploded across the inter-web, so have the tools to help optimize it. Hootsuite and TweetDeck give you the opportunity to schedule posts ahead of time. These tools free up time and ensure that the timing of your posts stays consistent. Followerwonk is a twitter analytics tool that you can use to help schedule and determine the frequency of your tweets to optimize your effect. It gives your business powerful insights about your followers habits and when the most effective time to post new tweets.

As a general rule of thumb follow these rules:

Facebook: Less is definitely more. 1-2 posts per day, spaced out over the day. Some businesses have found better engagement by posting even less often: 3-4 times a week. Experiment with what works for your audience.

LinkedIn: 1-3 posts per week; some businesses up to 5.

Pinterest : Don’t “pin dump;” either schedule pins with Pingraphy or pin in groups of at most 5-7 at a time.

Instagram: Several photos spaced several hours apart over the day; no more than 2 photos in a row

Twitter: More frequent is better, but never all at once: 5 tweets spread out over the day as opposed to 5 tweets 
within 10 minutes.

Google+: Refer to Facebook.

Monitor: Get the Most out of your Post

Writing good blogs or status updates are only affective if your audience is seeing them. As a small business you need to use the tools at your disposal to monitor the effect your social media efforts are having on your business. Checking the response level from consumers is good; you can do this by monitoring your SEO efforts and by using tools like Followerwonk. The overall goal is to check what’s working and alter anything that isn’t.

Again, each business is as unique as your target customer base. Take the time to learn as much as you can. Knowing when the best time to post for your business on each social media platform can drastically impact your social media efforts. Follow the general rules for each platform to ensure that you aren’t overwhelming, or underwhelming, your audience with content.

For more information about when to post check out the following link: Fast Company – How often to Post on Social Media

Jamie