When you’ve spent a lot of time and money fine-tuning content, coming up with the best headline and description and sprucing up imagery and design, the last thing you want to do is promote content at an off-time when few people are listening.
A big challenge with social media is to break through the information overload that most people experience with updates and piles of content constantly flowing through their various communication channels. With such a high velocity of information flowing people are typically not spending much time going back to see what they’ve missed since they last visited. If your content isn’t near the top of the pile when someone logs into a social news site, there’s a high chance they won’t look back far enough to find it.
So knowing when your target audiences are most likely to be viewing, and hence when best to send out messages or content such as social news submissions, Tweet, or Facebook updates, is important to ensure that your messages and content are actually going to be seen by the masses.
The question’s been asked time and time again regarding the best time to submit content to Digg or Reddit to ensure optimal exposure. While it was once speculated that submissions late at night (low-activity hours) had less competition with articles and therefore had a greater chance of being promoted to the front page overnight, it is now anyone’s guess whether that is true. It seems lately that the threshold of a front page promotion remains somewhat the same regardless of the time of day.
There are pros and cons of submitting content to social news sites during high-activity hours versus low-activity hours.
High-activity hour submissions: pros
- More votes
- More visitors
- More comments and engagement
High-activity hour submissions: cons
- Content gets filtered out of “new” or “upcoming” sections more quickly
- Visitor bounce rate may be higher due to content noise
- Engagement may be lower due to content noise
Low-activity hour submissions: pros
- Less noise
- More face-time on the “upcoming” or “new” sections.
- Easier front page promotion (speculative)
Low-activity hour submissions: cons
- Fewer visitors
- Fewer votes
- Greater foreign audience (this isn’t necessarily a bad thing but it depends on what the content is)
- Less comments and engagement
If you want to submit during high-activity hours then note that the majority of Digg users are in the U.S. and the best hours of exposure are under U.S. time. Most users tune in to social news sites during business hours which is usually 8:00 A.M to 5:00 P.M, and it’s good to go with the mean by using Central Standard Time (CST), submitting content around 7:00 P.M. – 8:00 P.M. so that it will be 6:00 A.M. – 7:00 A.M. in the west and 8:00 A.M. – 9:00 A.M. in the east. This way you will get the most exposure for your content.
When content is promoted to the front page in non-US business hours it is capturing a lot of viewers globally that are currently in high-activity hours themselves. While it is good to capture an international audience the content misses the highest amount of traffic it can potentially have.
Front page promotion timing
Submission exposure is only one half of the equation while front page exposure is the other half. Content may have a low-level of engagement overnight but if it is promoted to the front page overnight then the content is likely to be well-positioned during high-activity hours of the morning the next day. Conversely, this is when a lot of content is being promoted to the front page so the face-time on the front page is shortened by a high level of noise.
Content can be promoted to the front page at any time from approximately an hour after submission to 24 hours after submission. While the timing of the front page promotion is contingent upon the social news site’s algorithm and the qualitative voting data, the quantitative voting data can play a large role too.
For example, after a story is promoted to the front page on Digg it has a limited time to obtain a large amount of votes, to be one of the most Dugg stories, and make it to the “Top in All Topics” section on the right column. The “Top in All Topics” area allows the content to continue to get exposure for a longer period of time. If content front pages early after the submission then it must scramble to obtain enough Diggs to the most exposure before it becomes a victim of pagination. This is sometimes the downfall of breaking news stories that are promoted quickly and don’t get enough Diggs in time.
That said, sometimes it’s better to front page later in the day with a higher amount of votes to aim for the Top in All section. But if the content isn’t the best of the best, and doesn’t deserve to be there, it likely won’t. In that instance, you are luckier if your content is promoted to the front page in the A.M. hours.
While you have little control over your front page promotion timing you have full control over your submission timing. There are usually different scenarios for different types of content being submitted.
If you want to share a great piece of information or resource over Twitter or Facebook updates consider what time of day you submit it. Weigh out noise vs lower activity to make the best decision on when to shout your message.
As a resource, check out SocialBlade to see how users are behaving at Digg.com. You can view daily, weekly, and monthly trends and activity levels. This can be very helpful in deciding when to submit and promote content.
Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.