Social Media Science: 6 When & What Tips to Drive Social Engagement

SocialMediaA strong social media presence is essential to a strong marketing strategy – that’s nothing new. But there’s a secret to social media that many companies have yet to unlock: the when and what.

Here are six tips to strengthen your social media performance:

1. Hey Mike, what day is it?  We’ve all heard the Geico Hump Day Camel commercial. Aside from a slightly obnoxious, although catchy advertisement, there is something else to be said for the middle of the week: According to research, customers are more likely to click through Facebook links on Wednesdays.

As for Twitter, weekends are the worst times to tweet. Mondays show the highest levels of engagement, which remain steady until Thursday.

2.  Avoid a social siesta. After lunch—between 1:00 p.m. and 3:00 p.m.—is the ideal time frame for posting across Facebook and Twitter. This is when you will see the highest response via likes, comments, and shares. Looking for a retweet? Try 5:00 p.m. Twitter found that mobile users, which constitute more than half of Twitter activity, are 181% more likely tweet during their commute. If you think about it, is there a better way to decompress while you are waiting for the next subway, bus, or green light? (Eek!)

Some companies prefer to beat the traffic. They post and tweet during off hours – after 8:00 p.m. – in hopes of being at the top of their customers’ news feeds in the morning when they sign on. It is a strategic move that can work, as long as your customers are morning people.

3. A picture worth 1,000 thumbs? I won’t promise specific numbers, but a simple photo is predicted to receive 53% more likes, and 104% more comments than a plain text post. On Twitter photos are 107% more likely to be retweeted.

4. Short & sweet. Twitter is designed to keep tweets concise, while Facebook enables some lengthy posts. Remember when Twitter first launched and people thought 140 characters was insanely limiting? Those days are gone. In fact, shorter posts are encouraged. It appears the Twitter-effect has spread to Facebook. Posts under 80 characters achieve 66% higher engagement than longer posts. If 80 seems more like a long-term goal than a reality for your current messaging, aim to be under 280 characters and you will still see an improvement of about 60% engagement with your post.

5. #overkill. Oh, the hashtag. It has not only become a staple of all social media, it has even become part of daily conversation, especially for millennials. It is not unlikely to hear a millennial articulate a hashtag in a conversation – cue the Justin Timberlake and Jimmy Fallon parody. The popularity of hashtags can’t be ignored. Including 1-2 hashtags in your post will double engagement. It is a fine line, though. Using three or more will actually discourage engagement.

Hashtags are no longer limited to Twitter – although I really wish they were – Facebook and other platforms now enable hashtag searches so the tags do have equity across media.

6. You never know until you ask. Asking followers a question is one seemingly obvious and highly successful social engagement tactic. Posing a question doubles the probability of customers commenting on your post. Not just any question will do. Should, would, and which questions are 50-60% more successful at drawing a response than why and how questions, according to Hubspot. The reasoning: customers don’t want to spend a lot of time providing an explanation, they would much rather give a quick, short response.

This tip goes beyond asking a question for response. Directly asking your customers to engage with your post significantly increases the chances of them actually doing it. Popular business’ profiles on Facebook commonly ask customers to ‘Like if (this), Share if (that)’. And it works. On Twitter not only does requesting a retweet increase the likelihood of getting one, but spelling out ‘retweet’ can achieve a response 23 times higher than using the abbreviation ‘RT’.

Naturally, different industries will have varied best practices. Try these tips with your customers, measure the success and then customize your own social guidelines. Or, test the waters with this blog. Share this with colleagues or on your own social pages and start a conversation. I want to know, what works for you?