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Inbound Marketing Blog

    Do You Know the Social Media Shelf Life for Your Posts?

    Posted by Katie Redmond

    Making the Most of Your Social Media Marketing 

    When something is posted online, whether it’s on Facebook, Twitter, or the company blog, it will likely be online forever, but unfortunately it won’t always be relevant. Much like groceries at a supermarket, social media posts have shelf lives that expire. The big questions are, how long is the shelf life of your post and how to best communicate with the public despite this expiration date.

    What Does Half-Life Mean?

    The shelf life of a post can be best determined by knowing the half-life of the social media platform you’re using. In terms of social media, the half-life is simply the point at which your post has received 50% of all the attention it’s going to get. That attention could be in the form of a like, a comment, a share, a click, or simply a view.

    The half-life of a post varies depending on which medium you’re using to post it. For example, the half-life of a Facebook post is usually around 3.2 hours. This doesn’t mean that the post has “expired” after 3.2 hours; in fact, followers and fans will continue to interact with the post for many more hours after its half-life, just not in as high a volume as during the first 3 hours.

    What’s the Shelf Life on Each Platform?

    Not all social media platforms give posts the same shelf life though. So while the half-life of a Facebook post might be around 3.2 hours, a post on Twitter, which focuses much more on immediacy than its social media counterparts, has a half-life around 2.8 hours. Some social media posts have much longer half-lives due to the nature of their platform. Since Facebook and Twitter are generally used for quick posts and updates, their posts “go bad” much quicker than posts on sites like Pinterest and YouTube, which cater more to users who just want to browse. In fact, the half-life of a post on YouTube is 7.4 hours on average, which is much higher than Facebook or Twitter posts.

    Once you know the differences in the half-life of your post on different platforms, you can use this information to figure out the best possible way to have your message seen by as many people as possible.

    Since the half-life of any post is at most 7.5 hours, it’s important to choose your posting time carefully. While there has been research done about the best time to post, the results have been all over the map. Some researchers believe that the best times to post content are between noon and 6 pm, others think that posting after 7 pm is wise, and some have even found other effective posting times. How is this information helpful? It points out that no time is ideal for everyone to post.

    Work Around Time Zones When Posting

    Consider your clients when planning a post. Around 50% of Americans live in the Eastern Time Zone and around 80% live in Eastern and Central combined, so if your business is national and you are posting from California, it would be unwise to send out a Facebook post at 8 pm Pacific Time. Likewise, if your target market is working professionals, a tweet sent at 11 pm when customers might be sleeping is likely to go unnoticed. In short, the best time to post is not concrete, but as long as you know your audience, you’ll be able to make wise planning decisions.

    Another factor to consider in generating as much attention as possible from your posts is how often you send them out. This information is a little more concrete. You absolutely want to be posting every day; a social media platform with too few posts has little chance of being seen. On the other hand, a social media platform with too many posts might easily be unfollowed by ideal customers and clients.

    Maintaining Balance

    They key is to post often enough that your content is seen by as many people as possible without being overbearing. You should never send out a post before another has reached its half-life, so if you’re an hourly tweeter, back away from the keyboard. Doing this will make you omnipresent, but it will also dilute the strength of your messages by leading followers to tune you out. The best way to avoid this is to wait an hour or more after your post’s half-life is up before posting something else.

    If you have a specific post that you really want followers to notice, you can use the “second chance post” strategy. By posting your content a second time, you give followers who might have missed the original post a second chance at noticing it. When using a second chance post, you want to make sure that, a) you don’t re-post it immediately after the original post, and b) you post it at a different time of day than the original post.

    Image credit: freedigitalphotos.net/MR LIGHTMAN


    Social Media Tuneup

    Topics: Social Media