May 09, 2012

In Social Media -- Timing is Everything Nielsen recently released State of the Media Advertising & Audiences. It got me thinking about timing and digital media. While time has been a critical planning factor in traditional media, digital marketers don’t think in terms of prime time, roadblocks or time triggered communications as much as their offline counterparts. That strikes me, as a missed opportunity since timing is everything in life and in marketing. Perhaps the reason is a lack of data on behavior or the absence of consensus on digital, social and mobile media use. And yet digital, mobile and social media have distinct usage patterns. The average American spends 60 hours a month online visiting 89 domains and 2646 unique pages by logging in an average of 57 times. Half use the Internet everyday and most of them are on Facebook. According to BuzzFeed from a low point at 5a, Internet traffic grows steadily until lunchtime. After a meal time dip, volume grows modestly for another hour or two to a 4p daily peak which declines slowly but steadily from mid to late evening. Huge numbers of people wake up and check e-mail. Loads of people buy stuff online at lunchtime or post Facebook status updates during their workday. By mid-afternoon, after school, there’s another activity spike, which then is echoed after dinner, 8p through midnight, as multi-tasking consumers watch prime time TV with their smart phones, laptops or tablets in hand commenting or tweeting on plots, checking sports scores, posting to blogs or communities or looking up or buying stuff they saw on TV. And many of us also make a last e-mail or social media check before bed. When you think of it this way, there are patterns worth testing and probably a substantial case for marketing at specific times to address specific offers and the persistent fear of missing out, now dubbed FOMO by the pundits. In some cases, consumers use different digital platforms at different times for different purposes, like tablets for TV or video viewing or smartphones for online banking and location-based check-ins. Consider these data points: Facebook’s most consistent spike is Wednesday at 3pm Facebook predictably spikes at 11a, 3p and 8p daily Facebook posts appearing before 9a get more comments and shares than others Facebook posts at the top of the hour get more virility Facebook posts on Saturday draw the most Likes Most Facebook shares happen at Noon Facebook CTR’s top out on Tuesday and Wednesdays Sunday is Facebook slowest day Twitter has daily traffic peaks at Noon, 4p and 11p Lowest Twitter volume is at 7a Peak tweet volume is Friday Peek re-tweet days are Wednesday-Friday Peak re-tweet time is 5p Highest CTR on Twitter is at Noon and 6p Saturday morning is prime time for sharing on Pinterest E-mail has the strongest CTR on Saturday and Sunday Blogs draw the most comments on Saturday Blog posts at 8a prompt the most clicks, views and comments Cisco says 9p-1a are peak global Internet use times – 25%of all traffic US Internet use peaks at 11p ET Peak mobile usage is at 5p daily with a secondary spike at 9p Online gaming grows 60% after 2p and spikes between 8-11p Game console use spikes Thursday evenings Online video viewing peaks at Midnight IMing is constant throughout the day, but reaches 80% of peak at 10a Sharing across networks peaks at 9:30a Social media (all networks) peaks at 11p ET Wednesday is the top sharing day 75% of clicks occur within 1 day of posting Most clicks occur 2 minutes after content is posted 12% of all clicks come from mobile devices According to Hilary Mason, Chief Scientist at, social media content follows a “burst and decay” pattern with attention spiking within the first few hours of a post and then steadily decaying into a trough. Immediacy and “newness” are factors in influencing the relative reach and virility of posts. Posts degrade from birth, much like an atomic isotope. has tracked these patterns by network and pegs the shelf life of a post like this … Twitter 2.8 hours Facebook 3.1 hours YouTube 7 hours StumbleUpon > 7 hours Tumblr >7 hours These data points suggest a few testable media and messaging strategies either for optimizing digital engagement or integrating on and offline media and messaging. Road Block. Align and synchronize digital and TV platforms to dominate either a high or low use period with a single message. Gaming, apps and social media all have substantial traffic...
Studies Raise Doubts About Twitter Two new academic studies cast significant doubt on the marketing of Twitter. The implications for marketers are that Twitter is harder to use and less truly representative of the on-going conversation than we thought. Marco Camisani Calzolari, a professor in Milan, studied 10,000 random tweets for each of 39 well known brands including Dell, Blackberry, Coke, Ikea and Vodofone. He discovered, based on memes and language used that 45 percent of tweets are likely to be non-human bots. Basically half of all tweets are bogus. We already know a small minority of activist tweeters generates the vast majority of tweets. Add to this anxiety, a huge volume of brand-centric tweets generated by machine and this calls into question both the reach and credibility of Twitter. And while its understood and expected that marketers will try to game any channel or platform, these numbers are scary. It raises the prospect that trending stories are heavily manipulated and that Twitter, as a barometer of genuine popular sentiment, may be seriously flawed. This data comes at a time when Twitter is seeking to find new ways to monetize its platform and brands, feeling overwhelmed with the 24/7 always on torrent of tweets, are re-evaluating the reach, influence, utility and value of this social network for marketing purposes. Another mathematical academic study by Twitter’s own research scientist Jimmy Lin, concludes that trending topics can quickly change from one term to another as the conversation builds momentum or as new information or news breaks. On average, only 17% of the top 1000 query terms for one hour were still in the top 1000 in the following hour. The pattern of words or hashtags is not easily predictable, even as topics or stories work their way through the news cycles. “There does not appear to be cyclic patterns in day-over-day churn” in the use of keywords or hashtags on any given topic. The implication is that its much harder to keep up with, influence or leverage trending topics because “the phrases or hashtags become trending topics primarily as a result of velocity – the rate of change – not the sheer volume.” The pattern is like a super nova. A topic bursts in to the stream with high energy then dissipates almost as quickly as it appeared. And while a topic may decay at a slower rate than the words used to describe it, trying to keep up with it in the moment or over the course of its run, in ways that amplify, intersect or influence the conversation is increasingly more difficult. Bottom line: Marketers need to be wary about the real volume and real human inputs behind tweets. And they need to understand that it may require enormous effort and resources to keep current, involved or influential on trending topics or news stories.

Danny Flamberg

I am a veteran marketing consultant working with leading and emerging brands

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