12 February 2020
Companies around the world spend billions of dollars to promote their brand on social media.
One recent U.S. survey estimates that social media advertising will account for nearly one quarter of the total digital advertising spend in that country in 2020. That’s an astounding number.
How can social media managers drive website traffic instead of just relying on the “spray and pray” strategy—littering social media with company-generated content in the hope that the posts will draw in customers?
Recent research on circadian rhythms suggests companies can significantly enhance their social media penetration by posting content following the biological responses of their audience’s sleep-wake cycles and targeting content types to when the audience is most naturally receptive to it.
1. Post content in the morning
Human brain function varies throughout the day. For most people it’s highest when they wake up in the morning, lowest in mid-afternoon, and moderate in the evening.
When people are most alert, they generally feel the need to seek information. Thus, consumers will more likely engage with social media content in the morning, rather than the afternoon or evening.
According to one study, content posted in the morning attracted 8.8 per cent more link clicks than content posted in the afternoon, and 11.1 per cent more link clicks than content posted in the evening.
In short, posting content in the morning results in higher engagement.
2. Boost posts in the afternoon
Boosted posts are a type of ad on social media sites, such as Facebook or LinkedIn, that appear higher up in news feeds than non-boosted posts and are served to an audience beyond your existing page fans. They can be a relatively inexpensive way to reach more potential customers.
The key is to time them to have the biggest impact, and again understanding human circadian rhythms can help.
When people are experiencing their mid-afternoon slump, their brain prioritises preferential information in order to stay most efficient. When consumers are exposed to boosted content on social media, their working memory picks up an external cue that this is important information.
In the previously mentioned study, posts that were boosted in the afternoon generated significantly more link clicks.
3. Time your emotional content
Interestingly, the afternoon slump also tends to dampen people’s emotional responses.
Social media content that made readers feel angry or worried led to more links clicks in the morning compared to posting content that prompted the same feelings in the afternoon or evening.
Therefore, assuming most of your audience starts their day in the morning, it’s more effective to post “highly emotive” content (i.e. angry or worried) in the morning and “deep think” content in the afternoon.
In the lucrative field of social media advertising, a strategy that leverages natural human behaviour—in this case, their circadian rhythms—can capture more people’s attention and thus improve sales.