A lot of people got in touch with us over the last few weeks asking the same question: what is the best time to post on WeChat?
This question is complex, and there is no one-size-fits-all answer. However, following popular demand, we put together a few insights and case studies in order to help you in choosing the right strategy for your own account.
Difficulty of finding reference points and clear-cut answers about posting times
There are several reasons why it is difficult to give a one-sided answer to the “what is the best posting time” question. First of all, the fact that mobile navigation of social content relatively new. Although there was a lot of testing done worldwide on billions of web pages viewed via laptops, mobile social networks are a new thing. As people start consuming social content on their mobile devices, they exhibit different behavioural patterns than they used to on laptops.
The second and main reason is that the answer depends very much on who is your target market. A white-collar employee, a high-school student and a stay-home mom or dad will have very different habits. They will be free or busy at different times, and will be subject to different forms of social pressure or incentive. Therefore, the time when they are reading and re-sharing content might be completely different.
Let’s look at three different posting strategies in order to figure out how various accounts approach this issue.
Case 1: the pop culture news network (冷兔子, WeChat id: lengtoo )
Leng Tuzi was one of the first public WeChat accounts, and as such acquired a very substantial following: their messages are read on average by 500,000 people. There early entry on WeChat also enabled them to acquire a rare privilege: posting several messages per day (which used to be possible for the very first subscription accounts).
Their content is mostly light pop-culture news and fun articles.
Their posting time is very consistent:
- Around 1:30pm, catching people right after lunch
- Around 8pm, catching people after diner
Given the positioning as a “light” news network with fun and entertaining article, this posting time makes a lot of sense: it’s taking people at a moment where they are prone to relax and look for such kind of information.
Most WeChat users have colleagues among their friends. It is therefore unlikely that they will re-share content at the middle of working hours, out of social pressure. But people are done with work at 8pm and it is socially acceptable to share an article during the lunch break, hence this choice of timing.
Case 2: the outlier (逻辑思维, WeChat id: luojisw)
Luoji Siwei is one of the most fascinating case studies and one of the most widely read (or rather, listened) public accounts on WeChat. You can find a complete case study about him on our WeChat website.
His unique positioning is, in a space where we are all surrounded by articles, to send a voice message. Every morning at 6:30am, you will receive a 60 seconds message covering random topics from news to daily life observations. At the end of the message, you are prompted to write a keyword to receive a full article.
The 6:30am positioning is great in order to be the first post to appear for people when they wake up. Few companies will post that early. Moreover, the voice message easily stands out (with a red [Audio] tag) when compared to other messages (with the title of their article in gray).
Case 3: the scientific (新设技, WeChat id: new4life）
Each audience is unique, and some WeChat accounts understood that: they are therefore testing out different options. As you are likely to be limited to posting at most once per day, the best approach is to switch to a new posting time every once in a while (week or month).
That’s the approach taken by “New design” account, a WeChat public account sharing about design and other creative professions. The account is often changing posting time (first mid-afternoon, then late night 11:30pm before people get to bed or after they wake-up, then early morning 8:30am when people are heading for work)
This has some advantages and inconvenient. Regularity is a key feature when posting on social medias: when you post is not as important as how consistently you post, so that your users get used to coming back for your content. Changing posting times might therefore be extremely confusing for your users. On the other hand, experimenting can bring you precious insights as to when is the best time to target your audience. The semi-regular format chosen by “New design” is interesting because it still provides a pattern while trying out various options.
In a few words
There is no one-size-fits-all rule in order to time your posts, but you can follow these strategic guidelines:
- Adapt closely to the behaviour of your target group (middle of the afternoon would be terrible if you are targeting busy managers, but perfect if you are aiming for stay-home moms or dads who might have more free time at this moment)
- Pay attention to the competition: a very early morning or late night post might make you stand out if nobody else is posting at the same time. This might be particularly relevant if you know you are competing against some few specific accounts.
- Experiment, if you can. Your audience is special and a bit of iteration might be necessary if you want to find the formula which really fits them