While content is "king," and search engine optimization (SEO) must be maximized to ensure your medical practice blog posts are getting found and read, the necessity of building engagement is a third part of the content marketing puzzle that needs to be addressed.
It used to be that simply cross-posting links to your blog was enough. However, the digital "noise" that has taken over the social media stratosphere has made it critical for marketing efforts to focus on the best time and day for posting in order to reach the most members of your target audience.
Why care about the day of the week?
As a user of social media (which we presume you are), do you listen to and engage with social media 24-7? It's not likely. More believably, you turn to social media on those days of the week that are less structurally locked down with meetings, errands, appointments, or classes.
While we all live and work inside lifestyles and occupational schedules that can vary widely, there are certain days of the week that are just busier when it comes to social media engagement.
You will want to make sure you post in social media when the odds are best that you'll attract followers, replies, shares, likes, and other forms of engagement.
Generally speaking, Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday are the days that attract the smallest number of engagements. However, some sources suggest that a 3pm post every Wednesday is going to harness some surprisingly good click-through results. Friday, Saturday, and Sunday are far more active.
Why care about the time of day?
Who doesn't turn to social media during slow times during the day between projects? Only those who don't use social media at all, which is a slim minority in our digital-driven world. This is true whether you are at work or at home.
The best time of day to post is typically during that midday slump, 1 to 4pm. A 9am post is also a pretty nice time to get attention. In general terms, the hours between 8pm and 8am are considered the worst time to post (which makes sense because, typically, people are sleeping).
Isn't auto-amplifying my blog with each fresh post enough?
You should certainly use the automated cross-posting features your content platform affords you to send out that fresh content, whenever it goes up.
You may even wish to schedule your content to fit inside these time-day strategies to ensure they are amplified at precisely the best time for catching eyeballs and awareness.
However, sometimes a blog post has to be posted at another time: it might be late-breaking news, for instance, and can't wait, or it might be tied into a timely event that makes it pertinent to post, even if it's at a time or on a day outside these general recommendations.
That's okay. Use your automated tools to post it as fresh, because search engines are still in the business of indexing quality new content and these tools will help you achieve good organic search engine optimization regardless of social media trends.
Then, use your social media management tools to boost your post at key times whenever possible, and remember that in some platforms (specifically, Twitter), you can run multiple boosts without risking alienation from readers.
Questions to ask before setting a schedule
As useful as it is to know what the general recommendations are for using social media to promote your blog, there are still other factors to consider. For instance:
Who is your audience?
In a medical marketing situation, the audience is probably mostly patients (current ones or potential new ones). When are they more likely to be online? It depends. Think about the shape of their days. Review your current personas and improve upon these insights, if you haven't previously thought about how they might use social media. For instance:
For people who are chronically ill and not working, their access and likelihood for engagement may be timed differently from someone who is a caregiver or who is still working.
For people with sleeping problems, night posts and engagement are probably a good idea.
If most of your readers are parents who need advice for their children's healthcare needs, you might discover they are more responsive when you post at night, after the kids are in bed and they can sit down and read some blog posts while life is slowest and most quiet for them.
Weekends, it turns out, are a favorable time for everybody. Just because people aren't at work doesn't mean they aren't engaging in social media: quite the opposite, in fact. Saturdays and Sundays may be the only time they have to catch up on their Internet reading.
What about time zones?
This may, or may not, be a contributing factor in your decisions about when to post to social media. Optimal time posting must take into consideration time zones in a couple of different ways. Both take into consideration who your audience already is as well and who you want your audience to be.
REACH WIDE: If you want to reach a wide audience that isn't local, you are best to set your default calendar for scheduling posts to the Eastern time zone. This is because more than half of the US lives here. The second most populated region is just one hour later: the Central time zone.
STAY LOCAL: If your medical practice truly wants to reach its interests at the local level, then having a default setting in the ET or CT zones only matters if that is where your business actually resides. For Alaska-based medical practices who primarily wish to serve the local community, sticking to the AK time zone is probably a better idea.
What is the social media platform you want engagement from?
While the recommendations made above are general and don't really take into consideration the nuances that separate all the different platforms in terms of engagement, it is important to know these nuances when you put together your content marketing strategy. Learning when your engagement odds are most in your favor depends upon the social media platforms you already participate in or wish to create engagement in.
Social media timing strategies, by platform
These recommendations are based on composites of research conducted by multiple marketing companies. While there are no absolute rules here, the most important takeaway is this: the time and day when people engage in social media is truly different from one platform to the next.
Best days of the week: Thursday through Sunday (although 3pm Wednesday is considered a potential outlier that can work in your favor).
Best times of the day: On weekdays, shoot for 9am, 1pm (for maximum shares), 2pm, and 3pm (for maximum click throughs). On weekends, shoot for noon to 1pm. Generally speaking, stay within 9am and 7pm for best results.
Best days of the week: Wednesday. However, this depends on the nature of your business. If your medical practice is reaching out to patients, Saturday and Sunday are better days, whereas weekdays are better if your target audience is other healthcare professionals or peers.
Best times of the day: Noon, 3pm, 5pm, and 6pm (commuter hour engagement is high, as people read tweets like they read their RSS feeds, for quick information and trends).
Best days of the week: Monday and Thursday.
Best times of the day: 2am, 8am, 9am, noon, and 5pm (but if you want to post an Instagram video, 9pm and later is the best time).
Best days of the week: Saturday and Sunday. Also, keep in mind their themed days: Sunday/Food, Monday/Fitness, Tuesday/Gadgets, Wednesday/Quotes, Thursday/Outfits, Friday/GIFs, Saturday/Travel.
Best times of the day: 2am, 9am, and 2pm (avoiding work hours during the week). Pinterest skews heavily female, so keeping in mind the lifestyles of mothers and caregivers means you might also see an uptick in engagement between 8pm and 11pm on weekends.
Best days of the week: Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday (this is considered the "professional" social network, so evenings and weekends are probably not a strong time for posting new content; right before work, during lunch, and right after work are better options).
Best times of the day: 7am, 8am, noon, 5pm, 6pm (people tend to read LinkedIn like a newspaper, in the morning).
Best days of the week: Wednesday (but keep in mind that Google+ users tend not to engage and are more likely to lurk).
Best times of the day: 9am, 11am, noon, and 1pm.
This is a lot of information to consider when setting your editorial and promotional calendar for upcoming blog content. What's more, trends are famous for changing just as we figure out what strategies work best. And your readership and content may be distinct enough from others' that your may still find you can comfortably stray from these current guidelines. Let your first-hand experience and observations be your best guide.
We highly recommend that you use the traffic tracking tools that each of the social networks offers you. They can give you great feedback on the best times and days for your previous posts, which can help narrow down the best, most customized social media scheduling strategy for your particular needs.
Also, scheduling tools for cross-posting content are a must have. HubSpot, CoSchedule, Buffer, and Hootsuite are just four of many utilities that can help you manage your social media efforts.
You can easily become fatigued by the challenges of scheduling your social media boosts. One simple way to make this effort work:
Stick to a reliable social media "blast" schedule, then experiment with off times that you think might also work for your intended audience and social media channels. This can include posting links to your best material during a specific experimental time for a period of 2 to 4 weeks, then examining results. Continue the experiment with other times/days, until you can make comparisons to see any patterns that might emerge.
However you set up your strategy, don't forget this one cardinal rule: Content is king.
If you have really good quality content, it will find its way to the readers (and, possibly, patients) who need it most.
If you have really shallow content that doesn't help people solve their problems, it doesn't matter if you hit every social media prime time target with amplification.
Healthcare solutions are what patients are look when they turn to the web for information.
If you can make sure you have something of value to offer every single time, and use your social media strategy smartly to promote its quality, then you really can't go wrong.