Perfecting Timing in the World of Social Media
By Kelsey Anspach, The Dartmouth Staff
Published on Friday, February 22, 2013
You have an important blitz to send. You write the blitz; it takes you 10 minutes. You look at the time. You save the blitz as a draft to send it later. You wait a little while. You decide it’s still too early to send the blitz. Or is it? You decide it’s not worth worrying and you should just send it now and get it over with, only to realize that you send it out right as the listserv is bombing our inboxes and that there’s a 75 percent chance your blitz will be deleted en masse by its recipients.
Blitz (or Facebook or texting, for that matter) all seem so simple to use. That is, until you actually have to use them. As if it weren’t hard enough already to figure out what you’re going to say — whether to make it cute or snarky, whether to use proper punctuation or all lowercase — it’s all further complicated by the fact that the timing of it all can be just as crucial.
Timing means things. Trying to make dinner plans 15 minutes before you want them to happen? Good luck. Post that Facebook album when people aren’t procrastinating? Plan on getting three likes, max. It’s all so complicated, anxiety-provoking, annoying, what have you. Well folks, fret no more: The Mirror presents Social Media Timing for Dummies in three easy steps.
Part I: The Basics
Don’t: send your blitz at the campus listserv’s peak inbox-bombing times; send any blitz or text too far in advance of the event that you’re planning, because the recipient is guaranteed to forget about it; send more than two texts without a reply in between or try to contact people on Sundays after noon in general, because chances are they’re slaving away at some kind of work.
Do: send things during classes where you have computers because chances are other people would appreciate distractions via Blitz or Facebook; send things after hours so they’ll be received in the morning when we’re all checking to see who contacted us while we were sleeping.
Part II: Specific Cases
Facebook albums: To maximize peak liking and commenting, post albums during popular procrastination times. Sunday nights after dinner are always a hit, and Saturdays around noon can be relatively reliable as well.
(not to be confused with) Muploads: Most relevant if posted in real time. Also, we can’t have all of everyone’s pictures going up Sunday night. We have to do work at some point.
Morning after blitzes: Ahem, there’s a reason they’re called “morning after” blitzes. Not “afternoon after.” Not “night after.” Not “two mornings after.” Not “next weekend after.” Send them in the morning, please.
Blitzes or wall posts containing Buzzfeed links/music/YouTube videos/pictures of cute animals: Any and all hours of the day. Any kinds of distractions that induce laughing or crying or both (over something other than our own lives) are always appreciated.
Happy Birthdays: Send your first wishes in the morning to prove that you actually knew it was their birthday, or, alternatively, send as soon as possible after you find out that it’s their birthday. Feel free to send continuously throughout the day.
Part III: Social Media versus Real Life
There is, perhaps, a third dimension to virtual communication: the time that you take out of your own life to send these things. Rule number one even though this is part three: Real life > Internet or phone.
Translation: If you’re having a conversation with someone, don’t stop to answer texts in the middle of saying something. This translates to: I care more about other people than I care about you. It’s better to awkwardly try and say hi to someone than to so obviously ignore them by looking at your phone. Picking up your head and smiling just might make their day. Contrary to previous statements: paying attention in class is not to be underrated.
Yes, timing means something, but it shouldn’t mean so much that you never end up reaching out to the people you want to reach out to. If you feel like sending a blitz, send it. In the same vein, life gets a lot less stressful when you respond to blitzes sooner rather than later. Think about how you feel waiting for that blitz bing.
Understand that people are busy and so may not respond to your messages, but don’t underestimate our willingness to be spontaneous. If you really want to make plans with someone, ask them to his or her face — you’re essentially guaranteed an instant response.
And at the end of the day, we remember the person who said hi to us on the Green, not the hilariously clever wall post that made us a laugh for less than a minute.