The inspiration for this post comes from a burrito.
Or rather, the Burrito Principle.
The Burrito Principle, a term coined by social media specialist extraordinaire Beth Kanter, answers the age-old questions (or at least age-old for social media users): When is the best time to post on social media?
It’s an important question, especially for non-profits and associations that are always looking to engage as many Twitter followers, Facebook friends and Pinterest boards as they can. Posting on different social media platforms at the right time can mean the difference between your message reaching tens of thousands of people and merely hundreds. And if no one sees your organization’s posts, they have no impact.
The Burrito Principle says the best times to post on social media are generally 8:30 am, 12:30 pm, 5:30 pm and 10 pm. In other words, when people are on the way to work, while they are eating their burrito for lunch, on the ride home from work and during the down time after the kids have gone to sleep. These capture the times when people have a break and can not only check their Twitter feeds or watch YouTube videos, but also have time to engage with them.
It’s a great principle; one based on studies, stats and clear reason. However, there’s one flaw: it generalizes too much.
If you are a non-profit or professional association looking to capture a general audience, these guidelines are extremely useful and spot-on. However, if you are an organization with a specific audience, there is a danger in reading too far into the Burrito Principle.
For example, if your association represents golf course superintendents, freelance writers, security workers or any kind of professional that doesn’t work the usual 9-5 hours, the Burrito Principle can be a little misguided when trying to reach out to them. If members start work at 6 am and you tweet at 8:30 am, chances are those members are busy and won’t see your content.
The most important rule is, know your audience. Once you know the patterns of those you are trying to reach, you can start posting on social media to match those patterns.
Figuring out these patterns and the right moments to post on social media may take a bit of trial and error, but there are great tools to help you put the pieces together.
Free and simple tools exist online that allow you to analyze when your posts are getting the most views and the most engagement. Google Analytics is the biggest one, but there is also Twitter Analytics (through Twitter Ads), HootSuite and Twitter Reach. Using these tools is an easy and efficient way to determine the best time to post to social media and tailor the Burrito Principle to your specific goals.
Knowing your audience and when they are online is crucial to having an impact on social media. A little research and a little experimentation go a long way to establishing the right time to post for your organization.