How to Time Your Facebook Posts to Reach the Most Fans

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 “How frequently should I post on my Facebook page? When is the best time to post?”

Answer: Post whenever the most recent status update for your page stops showing up in your fans’ News Feeds.

If you post often, you will see an immediate spike in News Feed impressions, but it’s generally not worth the cost in lost fans. When your fans see two status updates from you in their News Feeds, they’ll likely get annoyed, and will consequently unsubscribe or un-fan. There are few exceptions to this rule.

If you post too infrequently, you’re missing out on opportunities to reach your fans. Over the course of a year, a page with 10,000 fans that posts only half as often as they could misses more than 1 million chances to get their content in front of a hyper-targeted Facebook audience. The larger your fan page, the more often you should be posting — without annoying your fans.

The kicker: Each post performs differently. Some posts last ten hours, and some posts last thirty hours.

Calculate the average post lifetime by using the method below, but remember it’s just that — an average. To get really in-depth, figure the average post lifetime for photos vs. articles, or the average lifetime when you post Thursdays at 3 p.m. vs. Saturdays at 10 a.m. However, it’s still just an average; each post is unique, so you can never exactly predict how it will perform.

How do you know when a post stops appearing in your fans’ News Feeds?

The good news is that when you track your posts’ performance, you’ll be able to see, in real-time, when that post drops out of the News Feed. If it flops five hours sooner than you expected, then immediately stick up a new post.

Each status update drops out of different fans’ News Feeds at different times, depending on how long Facebook’s algorithm EdgeRank calculates that particular fan will be interested in that particular status update. Then, the best we can do is look at how each status update performs across all your fans’ News Feeds.

You’ll actually see a slowdown in new impressions, clicks, likes and comments as a post starts dropping out of News Feeds. The following graphs show cumulative numbers, so when the graph flattens, the post has dropped out of News Feeds.

Each of these metrics has pros and cons.

1. Impressions per-post: Impressions per-post is a single aggregate count of how many times a particular status update has been viewed. Facebook updates this number as more and more people view the post; however, it often won’t update for several hours at a time when Facebook’s computers are calculating for millions of posts across millions of fan pages. On the bright side, when it works, it’s great — you can literally watch as your post gets viewed by fans.

2. Comments per-post: All the comments on any status update are time-stamped, so you can measure on a minute-by-minute basis exactly when a fan saw the status update. Unfortunately, most status updates receive so few comments that there aren’t enough data points to determine whether your fans are choosing not to comment or simply aren’t seeing the post in their News Feeds.

3. Likes per-post: In general, this is the most accurate way to see when your status update starts dropping out of News Feeds. Facebook updates the post’s like count in near real time, so it’s more reliable than the post impression count. And because posts tend to get more likes than comments, the data presents an accurate picture of how long a post stayed in News Feeds. On the other hand, likes aren’t time-stamped, so you have to check the like count regularly to see when new likes are added.

So how do I actually measure?

Post a status update. Every hour, record the number of impressions, likes and comments. Figure out when the rate of new impressions or likes slows down.

Try recording all the raw data in Excel, then graph the data just like you see above. Visually estimate the post lifetime based on when the graph flattens out.

After you calculate the post lifetime for 10-20 posts, you’ll start to generate an average post lifetime unique to your fan page.

What’s the average post lifetime?

I don’t know.

However, I surveyed 20 posts across five fan pages that had 2 million+ fans, and calculated an average post lifetime of 22 hours, 51 minutes. Theoretically, this implies most fan pages shouldn’t post more than once a day.

I strongly recommend keeping track of your posts in real-time because post lifetimes vary widely, even across the same fan page. In my sample of twenty posts, the shortest post lasted only 10 hours, while the longest post lasted a full 50 hours!

If you weren’t tracking those posts, you would have been invisible in the News Feed for 13 hours when the post flopped at the 10-hour mark. Similarly, you could have delayed your next post when the high-performing post showed no sign of slowing down.

Lastly, feel free to experiment and break the rules.

You won’t know if your fans respond better to a different posting strategy until you try it. Use these analytics to augment your intelligence, not replace it.

Happy posting!

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100 Uses of Social Media Monitoring

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Companies that are new to social media monitoring and engagement frequently wonder where to begin. This can even be a bigger challenge if nobody is talking about your company or brand. We wanted to provide a few examples, okay, well 100 examples, of things that you can listen and monitor for across the social web.

The list is divided into 10 categories, so if you are looking for help in a particular category, see if it is listed below. This is by no means an exhaustive list, and there are some categories that didn’t make the cut. If there are other ideas you would like to see explored in a future list, let us know in the comments below.

Brand Monitoring
1. Listen for online mentions of your brand
2. Listen for positive mentions of your brand
3. Listen for negative mentions of your brand
4. Listen for direct and indirect questions from customers
5. Discover brand advocates
6. Discover brand detractors
7. Discover influencers for your brand
8. Learn where customers are talking about your brand
9. Listen for the most popular topics about your brand
10. Monitor public perception of your company
11. Listen for mentions of executive team
12. Listen for mentions of product misuse

Competitive Intelligence
13. Discover online mentions of your top competitors
14. Discover competitors’ latest product releases
15. Discover competitors’ recent company news
16. Listen for customer comments about competitors
17. Monitor competitors’ blogs for company insight
18. Monitor competitors’ employees social profiles
19. Monitor competitors’ content for levels of customer engagement
20. Discover negative mentions of competitors and treat as opportunities

Industry Monitoring
21. Listen to mentions of your industry
22. Listen for mentions of your brand compared to your industry
23. Listen for mentions of your competitors as part of your industry
24. Monitor share of voice in your industry
25. Monitor industry trends
26. Discover industry issues
27. Monitor industry news
28. Discover industry influencers
29. Monitor perception of industry by larger business community
30. Monitor changes in social media adoption in your industry

Thought Leadership
31. Monitor changes in conversation volume around key issues
32. Discover industry posts that require comment by your company’s subject matter experts
33. Monitor spread of company thought leadership blog posts
34. Identify online opportunities to share thought leadership
35. Identify speaking opportunities for subject matter experts
36. Determine perception of company as a thought leader
37. Determine perception of company employees as thought leaders
38. Discover other industry thought leaders
39. Monitor influence of company thought leaders
40. Monitor influence of industry thought leaders

Lead Generation and Sales
41. Monitor for buying indication terms within your product category
42. Monitor for recommendation requests within your product category
43. Monitor for discussions of your product category
44. Monitor target prospect personas to confirm accuracy
45. Monitor questions and conversations about your product category
46. Discover topics for remarkable content
47. Share relevant content with prospects
48. Answer direct questions from prospects
49. Discover competitive insights
50. Expand pool of prospects

Customer Service
51. Identify customer service issues as they emerge
52. Monitor volume of conversation around customer service issues
53. Respond to customer service issues in real-time
54. Determine if customers are willing to take issues offline
55. Gather customer feedback to share with other teams
56. Build relationships with customers
57. Answer customer questions
58. Respond to positive feedback
59. Share helpful company information
60. Monitor ongoing customers concerns

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
61. Discover relevant industry keywords
62. Monitor selected keywords for content ideas
63. Discover influencers using selected keywords
64. Determine which keywords are performing best
65. Determine which keywords are not performing
66. Monitor spread of content to determine better titles
67. Connect with people in industry to enhance social search
68. Discover relevant blogs to consider asking for backlinks
69. Monitor SEO influencers to keep up with search engine changes
70. Monitor search engine social profiles to keep up with changes

Crisis Communication
71. Monitor community news sites around facilities
72. Listen actively to conversations around the crisis
73. Establish a baseline for potential threats
74. Establish a baseline for potential failures
75. Find sites that are critical of your brand
76. Find people that are critical of your brand
77. Look for channels to use for crisis outreach
78. Determine potential issues before they escalate
79. Determine the volume of critical conversations
80. Determine sentiment level changes which could indicate a crisis

Product Development
81. Listen for comments on current products
82. Listen for comments on competitors’ products
83. Discover new uses for existing products
84. Discover opportunities for product offerings
85. Solicit product feedback and monitor comments
86. Conduct beta testing
87. Monitor new industry opportunities
88. Listen for potential new product features
89. Understand how customers are using your product
90. Identify points of difference about your product

Advertising and Marketing Effectiveness
91. Track advertising-specific keyword usage
92. Listen for social response to advertising messages
93. Gauge sentiment toward advertising campaigns
94. Monitor conversations from trade shows
95. Monitor unique URLs on your ads
96. Monitor unique phone numbers on your ads
97. Find sites relevant to your brand for online advertising
98. Learn the language of prospects
99. Monitor campaign or brand specific hashtags
100. Solicit user generated content and monitor results