Social media is providing brands with the opportunity to stay connected with their customers around the clock from any location, and exactly when to engage seems to be on everyone’s minds lately. It’s different for every industry, but most research finds that many businesses miss the mark when it comes to timing.

Recent studies by sources like Buddy Media, eMarketer, and even from Twitter have consistently shown that consumers are heavily involved with social media after 5 pm and on the weekends. If you don’t have someone available to manage your social networks during the highest levels of engagement, scheduling tools are a good alternative.

Sprout Social’s scheduling feature lets you pick the date and time you would like a Facebook post or tweet, and also suggests times your audience is most present.

While a majority of businesses only interact during working hours and rarely on weekends, a handful of brands are highly in tune with what timing works best for their industry and brand. Their dedication does not go unrewarded —follower and fan interaction can be much higher.

Bloomingdales Engages While You Shop

In addition to having a friendly and very human brand voice, Bloomingdales is completely engaged with social media on the weekends and evenings.

A Facebook post asking, “Who else is ready for the weekend?” received 90 Likes and a slew of comments. It doesn’t outwardly promote a product or sale, but the brand brings itself to the top of the mind when Facebook fans are gearing up for weekend shopping excursions. A simple question encouraging interaction can make a brand seem personable and human, and it’s a nice change from scheduled posts about a sale or product.

Bloomingdales does use social media to promote its sales, but it often works something playful into the promotion. A tweet was scheduled for a Friday evening asking “Who is staying in tonight? Wanna treat your home? Our July Home Sale is ending on Sun 7/22! Save 20-40%.” This tweet is particularly successful because the brand empathizes with customers who want to take it easy after a long work week, while encouraging them to check out a sale during their downtime.

Bloomingdales asks questions frequently to encourage interaction, which is proven to significantly boost engagement. It takes advantage of its industry’s social media strong points, despite the fact that the tweets are not during typical working hours. The Buddy Media study “Strategies for Effective Tweeting” found that engagement rates for retail were 30% higher on weekends, yet only 12% of retail brands were engaging on Saturdays and Sundays.

Taco Bell Finds Light-Night Tweeting Boosts Late-Night Eating

Taco Bell, purveyor of “the Fourth Meal,” is known for providing around-the-clock service to its patrons, and the brand stays true to that sentiment in its social media strategy. While its busiest time on Twitter is around lunch time, the brand’s social media team continues to tweet and post well into the midnight hour.

Taco Bell also has a great Facebook presence, often posting pictures of its menu items as well as customer-generated pictures; those are also proven to majorly boost engagement. The brand recently posted a picture of its chips and cheese asking, “Looking for a midnight snack? Look no further,” generating a whopping 10,220 Likes, 539 comments, and 145 shares.

Your brand doesn’t have to specialize in late-night service to be involved after working hours. Buddy Media also found that Facebook engagement was 17% higher from 8 pm to 7 am — or “non-busy hours.” By scheduling tweets and posts that are guaranteed to be relevant whenever they reach a consumer,  you form a connection with your fans and followers by reaching them when they’re most engaged.

JetBlue Boasts Original Content and Constant Interaction

JetBlue is constantly engaging 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The majority of content they share is their own, from “A Day In The Life” of a customer service representative to a blog series “demystifying hot topics in the airline industry.”

To get the most out of its arsenal of original content, it rolls the updates out steadily to avoid overwhelming fans and followers. The chart below (courtesy of the Xefer Twitter tool) shows Jet Blue’s tweets by time and day of the week. The brand is interacting frequently on the weekend, but the conversation is generally spread very evenly.

We’ve said it before: While it’s more valuable to have someone present and actively engaging with customers, scheduling tools can be a great alternative if that isn’t in the cards. The best engagement times do not always fall within working hours, but in order to have an extremely successful social media strategy with visible ROI, some extra thought and overtime will be a huge step in your quest for social media excellence.

[Image credit: Buddy Media, Mike]

This article discusses Sprout Social, our social media management tool for businesses. To learn about our editorial ethics and our commitment to objective coverage of the social media space, visit our About page.