TechWeb

Marketing Services Simplify Social Post Timing

Jul 31, 2012 (10:07 AM EDT)

Read the Original Article at http://www.informationweek.com/news/showArticle.jhtml?articleID=240004663


5 Social Networks Hot On Facebook's Heels
5 Social Networks Hot On Facebook's Heels
(click image for larger view and for slideshow)
Timing is everything, or at least a very big thing, in social media. Now, a couple of leading social media management tools makers are suggesting you leave the timing of your posts to them.

Sprout Social introduced a story queue system, along with a new publishing engine called ViralPost, in an update that went live Tuesday. When you add a post to the queue, rather than pushing it live immediately or setting an explicit publication time, a software formula decides when it should be published based on past patterns of account and social contact activity. According to Sprout, the timing models used have been shown to improve engagement by 30% on average, and as much as 300% in some cases.

HootSuite introduced something similar recently, an autoschedule feature for Hootlet, its browser extension for Chrome and Firefox. HootSuite's idea is that when you spot something you want to share, you can create a post with a link to that item and let the system figure out when to post it.

[ Sound like a lot of money to you? Why McKinsey Values Social Economy At Up To $1.3 Trillion. ]

HootSuite also had an announcement Tuesday, an expansion of its App Directory featuring integrations with Zendesk, Evernote, and Storify (more on that, below). HootSuite is one of the largest social media management players by volume of users, coming up on 5 million, about 4.5% of them paying customers. Sprout is another social media management tool popular with small businesses and has been adding to its features to support larger teams and agencies.

Sprout Social CEO Justyn Howard said his product's story queue gives social media managers the option of reordering posts, and you can also remove items from the queue and publish them manually, if necessary. Still, the basic idea is to spare you from trying to figure out the perfect posting schedule. "You can queue anything you find throughout the day and don't have to worry about overlapping times," he said.

Sprout's service will automatically space out the posts and release them at the times when they are most likely to be seen and shared or retweeted, Howard said. The software doesn't analyze the content of the posts, so don't expect it to prioritize based on what hashtags are running hot at the moment on Twitter. However, the algorithm does factor in past patterns of engagement and peak activity to pick its times.

"The idea of just being able to let the computer do the work and not pick explicit times is something we've had a lot of requests for," Howard said.

"It's something we've had on the roadmap for a while," HootSuite CEO Ryan Holmes said of his firm's autoscheduling. "We're always happy to make the lives of our users easier."

Meanwhile, HootSuite introduced three additons to its app directory that showcase a new plugin integration method. The apps for Zendesk, Evernote, and Storify are different from those HootSuite had previously made available in the directory, which made additional streams of posts and interaction visible within the HootSuite dashboard. Now, HootSuite also can relay content into the apps; for example, it can rout an incoming tweet that requires customer service followup into Zendesk, or create a note based on an incoming post in Evernote or a story in Storify.

This more bidirectional form of integration is good for taking in content from social networks, "then curating it and pointing it somewhere," Holmes said.

Follow David F. Carr on Twitter @davidfcarr. The BrainYard is @thebyard and facebook.com/thebyard

Every company needs a social networking policy, but don't stifle creativity and productivity with too much formality. Also in the debut, all-digital Social Media For Grownups issue of The BrainYard: The proper tools help in setting social networking policy for your company and ensure that you'll be able to follow through. (Free with registration.)