I’m going to go ahead and assume two things if you’re a blogger. The first assumption is that you probably have a Twitter account to make connections with people and drive traffic back to your blog (if not, you should probably start one). And the second is that you probably want people to actually click on the links you send out in your tweets, or even re-tweet you.
There are some steps you can take to optimize your tweets in order to increase click-through rates.
The first step is to optimize the actual content of your Tweets. I don’t really want to get too much into this because Ana Hoffman covered the topic very well in her recent Blog Titles post.
The third section of the post covering “Blog Titles from Twitter”, where she talks about twitterfeed.com, is of particular interest. This tool allows you to test different titles to see how well they convert by giving you a click count for the links in your tweets.
The ability to tweet out highly converting messages is just one tiny benefit of creating great blog post titles. You should always strive to have good titles and Ana’s post shows some great methods, so check it out!
But content is only part of the equation…
The second part of the equation is the timing of your tweets.
For your tweets to convert people have to see the message first! And for your followers to see your tweet, they need to be present on Twitter.
Note: This doesn’t necessarily have to be true if your followers are fanatics who will check all of your past tweets any time they sign on to Twitter. But let’s be honest…how many of those followers do you have? People have short attention spans. Their Twitter feeds are probably busy enough as it is without going back to read all of your past tweets. Plus, they will be checking your tweets anyway…we want to optimize for everyone else!
This implies that when you send your tweet is pretty damn important. But when is the best time?
Malcom Coles has made the claim that 4:01pm is the best time to tweet. Sure, the claim is a couple years old, but it should still hold true, right?
Well, I’m not sure if I would rely on this claim even if it was made yesterday. I tend to stray away from all generalizations. Your audience is your audience, and you need to figure out when they are listening, not the general population.
Testing YOUR Best Time to Tweet
Generalizations are cool, and may even be somewhat true. But wouldn’t it be cooler if you could figure out your best time to tweet? Even if it is only a half hour off from the general population, don’t you think there would be some benefit to it? I do.
I’m a fan of utilizing tools I know how to use – meaning I already use them. Partially because I think it’s fun to get creative and use tools for purposes other than their main intended use; and partially because I’m lazy and don’t want to learn to use a new tool .
So after brainstorming a little I came up with a solution – an experiment you can run with your own Twitter account to test when the best time is for you to send tweets.
This experiment is simple. It doesn’t require you to alter your actual posts. It only requires three tools. And they’re all free!
1. Get the Tools
Pretty Link Lite is a WordPress plugin that is often used to mask affiliate links, or just make ugly, long links a bit prettier (hence the name).
Bit.ly is, as you probably know, is a URL shortener that makes your links far more Twitter-friendly.
HootSuite is an awesome, awesome free social media manager that I, admittedly, don’t put to nearly enough use.
2. Create Links
For the sake of producing viable results for the experiment, your tweets should be identical (other than the link) in terms of content. The only variable should be the time the message is sent out.
This is where Pretty Link Lite comes in. After you pick the post or page you want to run the test with, begin creating links (assuming you already have the plugin installed):
In this example, the links we are adding are for a “test post.” We need to create as many links as we want to test. So if we want to send out 6 links throughout the day (one every 2 hours for example), then you need to create 6 separate links in Pretty Link Lite:
The image below shows how to set up a link. The target URL is directed at “test post” and the Pretty Link URL shows “test1″ to differentiate the link. Add a description that you can reference when you come back to analyze your results. And most importantly, make sure that “Track this link” is checked under Link Options.
The second link should also point to the same “test post” with a different Pretty Link URL (pointing at test2 in this case). This is important because this is how you are going to differentiate the links when you are analyzing your results.
3. Shorten Links
Once you have all of your links set up, go to Bit.ly and shorten the links (you are shortening the Pretty Link links – www.domain.com/test 1, www.domain.com/test2, etc.). This will make them a Twitter-friendly length so you can tweet them out and start keeping track of click counts.
4. Automate Your Tweets (Optional)
I say this step is optional because you don’t have to do this step to complete the experiment, but it will make your life easier.
You can use HootSuite to automate your tweets. If you decide to go this route make sure that the actual message of your tweet is identical but has different Bit.ly links. This will ensure that you are truly testing the timing of your tweets and not any other variable.
4. Analyze Your Results
You should repeat this experiment with several posts to make sure that you are actually discovering a trend and not a fluke occurrence.
Keeping track is as simple as recording how many clicks you get, and at which times of the day, in an excel file.
So you may be asking yourself “but why test at all if I can just automate all my tweets?”
I ask you “why not!?”
But seriously, you want to test the timing of your tweets to optimize and prioritize what you will tweet when. You do not want to bombard Twitter with your messages…that leads to a lot of un-follows. But you do want to prioritize your tweets to send the “money-makers” at optimal times.
If your blog is a hobby it may not matter. But if your blog is a business and you are sending out tweets in hopes of sales conversions, you want to optimize as much as possible.
Your Two Cents:
Have you ever thought about timing your tweets?
Have you ever tested your “optimal tweet time”? If so, how did you go about it?
Do you find that timing your tweets makes a difference?
Is this a bunch of hoopla all about nothing?