What’s the best day to publish blog posts? At Media Shower, we get this question all the time.
I will give the short answer for those with attention deficit disorder, and a slightly longer answer for those who want to understand.
The Short Answer
It doesn’t matter.
The Slightly Longer Answer
There have been a number of studies on this question, and the data is conflicting. Because it’s the wrong question.
“When should I publish to my blog?” presumes that people are waiting to read your blog. They’re setting a timer and eagerly refreshing the page at some set time, waiting to gobble up your latest morsel of brain meat. That’s not how people consume Web content.
Think about how you got to this post, for example. You likely got here one of three ways:
- You saw it in a social media feed
- You found it through a search engine
- You are reading through a backlog of these posts
In no case did it matter what time I published this post. You are reading this post in the future, perhaps the distant future, making it a weird kind of time travel (please send back stock tips). There’s an important point here, which is that to blog effectively, you need to get out of “time” mode, and into “evergreen” mode.
The Tree Analogy
Each blog post you plant is like a little tree that will grow over time. If it gets air and sunlight (in the form of links and promotion), it will grow. But it’s a crowded forest: not all your content will thrive, no matter how brilliant it is. So you need to do a lot of it, and do it regularly. Like nature, you need to spend lavishly on new seeds, in the form of new content: eventually a few of them will grow to be very big indeed.
Instead of “When is the best time to publish blog posts?” a better question is “How often should I publish blog posts?” The answer is a lot.
Occasionally we’ll have a customer order a single blog post from Media Shower, then track it to “see how it does.” Based on that sample size of one, the thinking goes, they can make a decision on their entire content marketing program. But Mother Nature does not drop a single seed on the ground and then decide the course of evolution based on that result: she tries many experiments, until she finds the combinations that work. Each plant, each animal, each person is one of those experiments. You are one of those experiments.
In the same way, each of your blog posts is a mini-experiment to see what works (one of the reasons that tracking and reporting are so important). You’re measuring not just one metric, but a host of them: traffic, shares, likes, comments, conversions. To get enough meaningful data to discern trends, you have to do a lot of it.
Take heart! The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single blog post. Just do it, as a marketing discipline, and the results will follow.
Three Rules of Thumb (You’ll Need an Extra Thumb)
When thinking about posting frequency, here are three rules of thumb:
1) Post regularly. For readers who fall in love with your blog, they’ll want to go back and read previous posts. Because most blog posts are datestamped, you don’t want to give the impression that you have a flurry of blog activity every six months. This sends a strong message that your company is one that starts work, but is not able to see it through.
In contrast, if your blog is updated each week, or every Monday/Wednesday/Friday, it sends a few strong messages. One is that your company is financially strong enough to pay people to blog for you. This is the same logic that works for advertising: when a company spends lavishly on an ad for television, it is a vote of confidence that the company will make back the exorbitant expense in increased sales. We trust the company because of the advertising.
Another message is consistency. A regularly updated blog says, “We are a company that delivers good work consistently.” One of Steve Jobs’s favorite words was “impute,” meaning “assigning a value to something by inference.” This is why Apple spent so much time and money on design: it imputed, or inferred, the company’s dedication to quality. Your company is constantly imputing its values, and the blog is one of those primary ways to impute consistency and reliability.
Finally, as we covered above, the more you post, the more you learn. And the more you learn, the more you know™.
2) Avoid topical content. Unless you are a news organization, or your content strategy involves industry trends, it’s best to avoid topical content. Many folks, particularly if they come from a news background, try to time their editorial calendar with current events, which again assumes that people are reading your content shortly after you post it. The majority will not.
If you’re investing time and money in creating content, you want to make sure it lasts longer than your reference to last night’s episode of [POPULAR TV SHOW], or [NEWS EVENT], or [CELEBRITY SCANDAL]. Ask yourself, “Will this topic have a short shelf life?” Why create a product that will spoil within days, when it’s just as easy to package it in an airtight, non-perishable container?
Strive to make your blog posts evergreen. That’s where the money is.
You can take your topical ideas and make them more evergreen. For example, we created a Halloween-themed post for one client that went to Page 1 of the search engines, and each October our client got a huge burst of new traffic from that post. You can make an evergreen that blooms once a year.
3) Time your social media promotion well. Blog posts are evergreen, but social media is time-based.
Blog posts will be buried in a time capsule and read by distant civilizations in the unimaginable future, as their robot helpers harvest genetically modified meat from trees. Social media posts will be forgotten by dinnertime.
Blog posts are forever, but social media is like a belch in the wind.
They’re simply two different animals, due to the nature of the platforms. While a blog post is a little investment in your business that will pay dividends over time, social media is talk. But social media, of course, is one of the critical ways to drive traffic back to your blog.
Because your social media promotion is so ephemeral, this is where the timing really does matter. So a truly legitimate question is, “What is the best time to promote your blog posts via social media?” But that’s a topic for another post.
“Getting an audience is hard,” said Bruce Springsteen, summing up all this advice. “It demands a consistency of thought, of purpose, and of action over a long period of time.”
That’s why he’s the boss.
Sir John Hargrave is the CEO of Media Shower and author of Mind Hacking, available in 2016 from Simon & Schuster’s Gallery Books. This post is free to distribute under Creative Commons 4.0: if you like it, share it.