One of the perks of working as a freelance journalist is the freedom to decide what publications you work with at any given time. While your resume and portfolio may help you secure a contract, your ability to generate page views and returning visitors may determine the ultimate fate of what you may hope to be a long-term relationship with your client. Social media is a critical component of generating awareness of your latest feature – and not just via the Twitter account of Facebook page of the brand’s blog. Your personal social media accounts are often key in proving that you can accrue the page views necessary to prove your worth as a writer in today’s new media.
Using your social media accounts to generate attention for your freelance articles requires a bit of a strategy and a scientific approach. While you may personally tweet and update Facebook on a whim, there is a science of social timing that has demonstrated using social media during specific times of the day – and even days of the week – can bolster the amount of clicks, page views, and even comments your article generates. As a freelance journalist, taking advantage of this science could be critical in keeping your contracts for many more weeks – or even months.
I had a chance recently to speak with Hubspot’s Dan Zarella, one of the leading experts about the science of social timing and its benefits. On his blog, he has explained that the average blog (whether personal or professional) gets the most traffic around 11 a.m. EST. This means that most people are reading articles published around this time of day. Zarella explained, however, that this doesn’t apply to everyone – and especially may not apply to journalists writing for a niche blog that may target readers in different time zones. If you have followers or friends on your social media accounts interested in the topics you write about, be sure your article is published before their online activity peaks for the day, too.
Infographic courtesy of DanZarrella.com
On that note, Zarella has also found that tweeting and sharing blog posts or other articles online via Facebook and Twitter later in the day can help drive more traffic to your client’s blog, increasing pageviews for the day even more. Zarella notes that retweet activity on blog posts generally tends to peak around 4 p.m. EST. He said he also found “articles published in the morning, around 9 a.m. EST, tended to be shared more on Facebook than articles published at other times of the day.” For freelance journalists concerned about driving the most traffic and creating the most engagement on your articles, the bottom line is clear: be sure that not only are you publishing your blog posts early, but also sharing them with your own friends and followers early in the day so that they share the content with their friends, too, thereby driving the most traffic as possible.
Of course, if you really want to impress your editor, you should consider not just the best time of the day to publish and share your articles, but also the best day of the week. Consider something Zarella calls “contra-competitive timing, which is the idea that when social activity tends to slow down, the social media activity has a higher click-through rate and sharing is higher.” Publication of news, features, and even updates on Twitter and Facebook is generally slower on the weekends, but research indicates that people use social networks like Facebook on Saturday more than during the week. (Zarella has also found that blogs get the most comments on Saturdays.) As a result, sharing your articles using social media on the weekend can be a huge opportunity to generate not only pageviews, but engagement as well.
If you don’t have control over the time your article is published, don’t stress – you can always use the science of social timing to share it the following day, which can extend the lifespan by which the article is shared, generating even more comments and, of course, those critical pageviews.
How have you used social media to help generate awareness of the articles you write as a freelance journalist? Share your ideas in the comments.