I’ve been thinking a lot recently about global readership. For example, my readers span the globe, but I’m only located in one place – namely the Pacific time zone.
As a result, my articles are only published in the Pacific time zone.
I work hard every week to make sure my articles are ready to go and scheduled well in advance of my desired publication time. But it strikes me that publication time might not be the best for everyone.
For the past 6 months, I’ve scheduled an article to automatically publish every day at 8am Pacific. This works well for me as it’s the beginning of the day over here. But it’s right before lunch for my friends on the East coast. It’s late in the afternoon for my friends in Europe.
Everyone reads their chose blogs at different times in the day, and I’ve carefully selected this publication time as it’s the best way to reach the optimum number of people. Still, many of my friends on the West coast aren’t even awake when my articles publish and I announce they’re ready via Twitter. This results in the need to tweet multiple times each day to keep up with the rapid, real-time medium that I use to alert my peers of a new publication.
It feels inefficient to schedule things this way.
I’ve also noticed trends in various other media networks. When I publish an article and someone posts it to Reddit or Hacker News immediately upon publication, I’ll see a spike in traffic for 30 minutes (or less). If someone posts my article later in the day – say 11am Pacific – I’ll see a traffic spike that lasts several hours.
Trying to find a one-size-fits-all publication schedule is proving impossible.
In the past, I’ve seen interesting experiments with geolocation online. Videos will be embargoed for particular regions until certain times to prevent spoilers (particularly for things like reality TV or sporting events) from crossing time zones. I’ve also seen written publications programmed in such a way as to be available to subscribers on some continents earlier than others.
Keep in mind, I’m a huge fan of net neutrality – I would never prevent readers from reaching my content based on their ISP or block them permanently based on their regional connection. At the same time, I’m wondering if “publishing” content at a different time for different locales might make sense.
If 11am seems to be the best time for publication globally, why not make new content appear at 11am local time for as many regions as possible? The only problem is in notifying readers that content is available. Geo-restricted push notifications perhaps?
There would be a lot that would go into a system like this, but it would be interesting to see if making content “fresh and new” at different times of day based on the timezone from which the site is viewed would impact readership. Would readership improve? Would it wane? Would anyone notice in the first place?
When do you read blogs? Does the time at which a daily blog publishes its content matter to your readership?