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If you think that the rise of texting, tweeting, and auto-correcting means that the English you were taught in grammar school is no longer important, think again. A report compiled by Compendium shows that punctuation can help to determine the effectiveness of marketing messages on social media.
Compendium, a content-strategy company recently acquired by Oracle, looked at the social sharing data of more than 200 companies and split the findings into two segments: business-to-business (B2B) and business-to-consumer (B2C).
Question Marks, Exclamation Points, and Hashtags
Take, for example, the question mark. If you’re marketing to other businesses on Twitter, your tweets will receive 39 percent fewer clicks if they include a question mark vs. if you’re marketing to consumers on Twitter, you’ll receive 52 percent fewer clicks. On LinkedIn, a question mark elicits 25 percent and 45 percent fewer clicks respectively.
The exclamation point fared a bit better: Business followers clicked 15 percent less often to tweets containing one, whereas consumers respond only 8 percent less often. LinkedIn users are clearly turned off by the overused symbol; both groups respond about 25 percent less often.
And then there’s the number or pound sign, which in a social media context creates a hashtag (#). The study finds that it pays off when marketing to business owners, but it fails miserably when consumers are the target audience. Using a hashtag on Twitter causes business owners to click 193 percent more often, yet consumers click 82 percent less. (LinkedIn results were parallel: Business owners clicked 56 percent more and consumers 20 percent less.)
Social Media Marketing: A Few Best Practices According to This Study
The study wasn’t all about punctuation. Here are four best practices based on additional data.
1. The optimal time to tweet to consumers is lunchtime. Updates posted between the hours of noon and 2 p.m. reach the most people. Fellow business owners are most easily wooed earlier in the day, between 10 and 11 a.m.
Related: Is Your Business Using Twitter Right?
2. Post Facebook updates for consumers at noon or between 3 and 5 p.m. Business owners are best reached around 11 a.m.
3. The later in the week you try to engage customers, the less likely you are to succeed. For B2B customers, post to LinkedIn on Sunday and Twitter on Wednesday. For B2C customers, schedule LinkedIn updates on Monday and Twitter on Monday or Wednesday. What was consistent among both customer types and platforms was that Thursday through Saturday won't receive as much engagement as earlier in the week.
4. Keep it short. There is constant debate about the ideal length of a tweet. According to this study, if you market to other businesses, 11 to 15 words is best. For consumers, less is more: One to five words are most effective.
It’s All Just Too Confusing
Are you getting a little tired of reading the dizzying amount of new studies, best practices, and advice columns that all seem to contradict each other?
There’s a reason for that: You’re reading them with the incorrect expectation. The fact is that nobody can tell you the right way to formulate a social media strategy because they don’t know your industry, your business, your locality, your customers, or your voice.
With that in mind, the best way to read the newest study, article, or piece of advice is to add it to your split testing efforts. (Also called A/B testing)
In this study, for example, the authors found that the best time to post to Facebook is between 3 and 5 p.m. Using that information, you could perform a split test where you post updates during that window for two weeks and compare the engagement rates to your past efforts.
Some of the information you read will be proven true when you split test while other information will have no noticeable effect or be proven false.
The behavior of your audience on social media channels is constantly changing their behavior patterns. For that reason, you should always be performing tests to try to new strategies.
Related: Using Social Media Marketing in Your Business
Consider your audience. The reason that using those traditional grammar rules you learned as a child are still a best practice is because much of your customer base learned the same rules. If, however, your audience is a younger clientele more used to what some call “text language” you might find this study to be largely false.
Take what you read and try it in your business and don’t be afraid to embrace the conclusion that it doesn’t apply to you.
Don’t, however, discount any new information without first running tests.
© 2014 Attard Communications, Inc., DBA Business Know-How®. May not be reproduced, reprinted or redistributed without written permission.