It’s happening again…

Organizations are weighing in on the best day and time to post, publish, send and/or tweet — in general when you should let your marketing loose on the world.

Back in the day there were a lot of studies published about the best day and time to send email. Some gave a single day and time; others gave 2 different answers, one to maximize open rate and one to maximize click-through rate.

It’s not a bad thing, but I can’t help but think of the words of one of my favorite philosophers:

“Act only according to that maxim whereby you can at the same time will that it should become a universal law.”
— Immanuel Kant

So if, let’s say, Tuesdays at 3:00 PM ET is the best time to post/publish/send/tweet, what would happen if marketers only posted/published/sent/tweeted at this time?

Everyone would be deluged and very little or none of it would be read. And the actual best time to post/publish/send/tweet would be any time but Tuesdays at 3:00 PM ET.

So that’s the first reason that I don’t put much faith in blanket statements of this nature.

But here’s the second reason: you want to sanity check anything like this to make sure it makes sense for your audience.

I was speaking with some PR/Marketing people about this topic last month and they were going to test tweeting based on one of these ‘best day and time’ studies. But the best day and time that was recommended was weekdays between 2:00 and 4:00 AM.

When they said this I had a few questions. First, what time zone? Eastern? Pacific? Greenwich Mean Time?

And second, it seems odd that the best time to tweet is when people in the time are, for the most part, asleep. Did the study, or did they, have any theories about this?

The answer to the first question was that the time zone wasn’t specified but it was assumed to be Eastern since the company reporting on the study was in the Eastern time zone.

The answer to the second, which I think came from one of these folks and not the study, was that London was 5 hours ahead of us (we are also East Coast) and so 2:00 to 4:00 AM ET is 7:00 to 9:00 AM there, when people are commuting and getting ready for their work day and perhaps have time to spend with Twitter.

And, this person added, 2:00 to 4:00 AM ET is also prime afternoon time in Asia, so perhaps those people are reading Twitter.

Which is when it hit me — I guess they are looking to reach a target audience in Europe and Asia, right?

But no — they are looking to reach C-level executives in the US, preferably in the Northeast. So we’re back to tweeting to reach them when they are likely sleeping.

In the email world the answer here used to be that you wanted your message to be waiting in the inbox when your recipient first checked email in the morning. This makes sense for some content, like ‘morning briefing’ newsletters with time-sensitive information. But many people are in ‘delete’ mode in the morning, so landing here with information that’s not critical for starting their day can land your message in the trash folder.

So is tweeting in the middle of the night a good thing to test? It’s definitely better than not testing anything.

But I fear that the results of the third party study are having too much influence on the test — and that these PR/marketing people are under-utilizing what they know about their audience.

One more note about day and time: I’ve found that there are generally good and bad windows to send (for instance, if yours is a work-related message you tend to get better response during business hours than at night or on the weekends). And that spending a lot of time to narrow it further to a particular day and/or hour doesn’t necessarily provide the return that testing some other variables might.


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