The three key pillars to any successful content campaign are: the right content, at the right time, in the right place.
In order to maximise your content reach, timing is a critical element. The last thing you want to do as a marketer is miss the opportunity in front of you; whether it’s not ranking for the term in time for something seasonal, publishing content when a trend has been and gone or pushing content through social when your audience are not around. Throughout this post I’m going to be focusing on the all important ‘timing’ element and using data to ensure that you will never miss an opportunity again. I’ll also point you in the direction of some helpful tools to assist you along the way.
The caveat is that you also have to understand the ‘right content’ and the ‘right place’ in order to get the timing right so I’ll cover elements of this too.
Take it right back to the start and begin with setting the objective, be clear on what the goal is for the content as this will effect the planning for the ‘place’ and ‘time’ for the piece of content. There are literally a plethora of different objectives and metrics for a piece of content which I could write a whole separate post on so I will let you decide that one for the moment!
Once you have set objectives, the next part is setting a clear plan and collating the data. Start this piece with seasonality that’s relevant to your topic, your industry and your audience; considering who they are, where they hang out, what will resonate with them and what they really want from your content. This will allow you to determine what platform this content will sit on, and when the it needs to be published. If this is a stand alone piece of content then it is relatively simple, however a campaign-led piece is more complex, and the chances are it will need to be multi-faceted considering multiple platforms for the content.
The best way to put this into context is a good old example that covers off several timing pieces over a span of several months and different channels…
Clearly your own internal data and GA will be the best for some of this data however, as I’m sure most of you reading this will be aware of the best free metric for looking at generic trend data, and that has to be Google Trends. Below I’ve done a simple query for Glastonbury, filtered in the last 12 months and then selected UK:
As you can see, there are 3 key trends in this line of data, rather than just one spike which demonstrated that content should be thought about around each of these trend lines. Take a look in trends for something relevant to your industry and I’m sure you’ll be surprised at when else there might be opportunity.
So now you understand the trend line, what comes next?
The next logical thing to do would be to understand where your audience are spending their time. This will help you to ensure your content is placed on the correct channels and that the content is created with enough time to seed it out to the media. Again, your own internal data is always the best place to start, however there are several different tools you can use to gather learnings and insight, below I’ve mentioned just a few:
Social is one of the most valuable places to start when looking at audience understanding and it is free and simple to do. To begin to pull insights you need to jump onto the audience insights tool here https://business.facebook.com/ads/audience-insights and then enter your page, or select a page/ interest by searching in the ‘interests’ tab on the left, then change the country to the relevant location. Once you’ve done that you will have a whole host of demographics to look through:
Perhaps the most useful one for ‘place’ is page likes and sort by ‘Affinity’:
Within twitter analytics you can see some similar top level detail about your audience and interest sets (audiences tab), this isn’t as detailed as the Facebook insights data is still worthy of a mention, below is an example of what this looks like:
Paid tools such as ‘Audiense’ and ‘FollowerWonk’ will also do this for you.
Again there is a wealth of data available in GA too, referrals are worth looking at (acquisition > all traffic > referrals), and although its not quite up to speed with the Facebook data and is seemingly pretty broad, the ’Interests’ section within the demographic data is a satisfactory other checkpoint.
‘SimilarWeb’ is a great tool too, even the free version gives you some top level insight on audience, referring sites, destination sites and social usage per channel. You can even use it to cross reference the trend data we looked at earlier and spy on competitors!
Another powerful tool we use at Zazzle is ‘Global Web Index’, the data sets in here are endless which allows you to truly understand buyer behaviour including where they consume content, the time spent on social and which channel which really helps with formulating the strategy, below is an example to give you a flavour, it also offers a free trial so is well worth a look.
So back to the timing and understanding when your audience are online.
The ‘Custom Reports’ field in GA allows you to create a report where you can see time of day and day of week to understand when your audience are on your site and consuming your content, so pretty valuable data! Of course, there is a whole host of reading on exactly how to do this manually. Alternatively, click on ‘Customization’ and then import from the gallery where you can search and import custom reports in order to save time.
We also know that is isn’t just the ‘When’ but ‘How’ which is important in understanding the content consumption by your audience, therefore it is also crucial you understand ‘Device’ so be sure to take a look at this too (audience/mobile/overview, or to go into more detail look at audience/mobile/device).
Using page insights is invaluable for understanding when your fans are online, to do this simply log into business manager page, select the brand page and then choose ‘Insights’ across the top menu bar followed by ‘Posts’ and you should get something like this:
This takes the data from the last week to show you the most engaging time of when your audience are online the most, you can then go a little further by hovering over each day to see how that may change over the course of the week. If you have the luxury of time for this content, then track this and document it in a simple spreadsheet over the course of a couple of months to see whether the pattern in consistent.
Twitter analytics is also useful for this and lets you compare this to your Facebook audience and see whether a different strategy is needed for your tweets.
Simply select the date range in the top right and hover of the data to see whether there are any obvious patterns in the most engaging days to tweet (and potentially put paid behind your activity). Within Twitter analytics you can also export the data which also give time of tweet and with a few simple formulas you can pull out the most engaging time of day too.
Check out Simon Penson’s post here on Econsultancy which gives the detail on how to extract this useful data and put it into graph format to achieve your deliverables.
Now and only now you have all of the data and insights can you start the content planning stage.
Clearly you’ll need to have some form of ideation or brain writing session to produce the ideas, then you’ll need to think about when these ideas can be executed. Once you have the ideas you should add them into to a content calendar so you know when the content needs to be created by and who should be writing it. Next is to create a timeline which should include what needs to be done and when. This timeline should sit inline with the data gathered from the above. Depending on the channel where this is going to sit will really impact this timelien so it is important to think carefully about determining the ‘Place’ of the content.
Our handy Campaign Planner free download will help you to formulate the essential roadmap you need for timing your content campaign to perfection. To help you, I’ve created an image of what your data may look like alongside the trend graph. The first shows a top level plan on what this might look like at a Macro level across several example channels over the course of a year, the second a more Micro view of one particular campaign.
Finally, I would also suggest creating an even more granular version, especially for social to ensure you map out and consider the timing element by hour.
So hopefully this has helped you understand both the importance of content timing and given you an overview on how to plan the timing of your campaigns to success, the key is to lead with data an objective and from there you’ll be just fine. If you'd like to download our campaign planning templates, click to get started!
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