Facebook Peak Times for Business

By now we all know that Facebook is dominating the world. It won't be long until Facebook implants are installed at birth and Mark Zuckerberg demands a framed photo in every living room. Well, maybe that's a little extreme. But Facebook is dominating the Web these days and for businesses, its important to know how and when to take advantage of the opportunity.

Every business should have a Facebook Page - a place where consumers can become fans and see updates in their personal feeds whenever you post to your Page. In terms of social media, there's no better way to become entrenched in users' online lives. But when is the best time to reach out?

Social media services vendor ViTrue has released results of a study "...compiled from nearly 200 million fans impressions on Facebook pages over a 5 month period (March though August 2009)." What they found is that Tuesday and Wednesday represent the highest click-through rates (CTR) on wall posts. Tuesday's CTR is an astonishing 9.89 percent, while Wednesday is no slouch at 9.87 percent. The worst days, somewhat surprisingly, are Thursday (4.39 percent), Saturday (2.7 percent) and Friday (2.67 percent). So, maybe Facebook users have social lives offline after all? Yes, that's probably true. And that's a good thing - it means you're reaching out to real people in real-world situations. That's big incentive to make your clickable wall posts inviting, value-driven and useful.

On average, the study shows an overall CTR of 6.76 percent, supported by an earlier study with Ad Age that showed CTRs of 6.49 percent just a few weeks ago. In those estimates - and these are educated estimates - those clicks were broken down by age:

13-17:   40%
18-24:   30%
25-34:   14%
35-44:   10%
45-54:   4%
55-plus: 2%

And by sex:

Female: 56%
Male:     44%

Impressive, these numbers are. What's more, they might actually be higher. ViTrue CEO Reggie Bradford explained in August, "If a site has 100 fans and your wall post gets five clicks, that's a 5% CTR. But if you assume only about 20% of those folks actually saw the post, it's really a 20% click-through rate." While his math is slightly off, the point remains the same - not everyone is going to see your wall posts, particularly when users might have hundreds of "friends." So, timing is also critical. You want to be present during the highest points of activity, but you don't want to get lost in the noise. The only real way to find your hot zone is to test it out and track your results.

All of these numbers are encouraging and the CTR far far exceeds those of traditional online ads. However, keep in mind that not everyone on the Web is on Facebook, and the site is relatively new to most people (as opposed to online ads in general). You can expect these rates to drop over time, as more people realize that becoming a fan of a business is a lot like opting in to an advertising campaign. Post nothing but ads or post too frequently and you'll soon have fewer fans. Or worse, they might remain a fan but hide your updates - skewing your numbers terribly. So, those businesses that prioritize value over clicks will be the ones that benefit the most from Facebook fans in the long-term.