It’s a source of contention among marketers across the world: when is the best time to tweet? Post it at the wrong time, and people may miss it. Tweet too often, and you run the risk of annoying your customers. Knowing when to tweet is an inexact science, and it’s easy to make mistakes along the way. If you’re wondering how to make the most of your tweets, then read on.

Basic traffic

Research has shown that if you’re tweeting a link, you’ll get the most click-through from users if you post between 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. EST. But never assume that your clients are just like everyone else. Maybe they’re evening Twitter-readers or follow tweets first thing in the morning. You’ve got to dig a little deeper if you want to know when you’re most likely to reach your target audience.

Simple analytics

There are a number of tools out there available if you know where to look. WhenToTweet, Tweriod, TweetStats, TweetWhen and TweetReports are all designed to help you learn when your followers are most active and responsive to your messages. And while those tools may be helpful, there’s a lot more to Internet marketing than just timing your tweets effectively.

How do you reach your customers?

You may have a few thousand followers, but who are your real customers? Who are the people that are most likely to buy what you’re selling? How do you get demographic information on your existing customers and potential customers? You can include a survey with their next transaction in store or online. You can talk to your sales team and gather as much information as possible.

But if you’re serious about using Twitter and other social media to generate sales, you’ll need a multi-pronged approach that uses social media marketing in different ways to reach different people. No two customers are exactly alike – while one may be inclined to a buy a product based on a tweet, another may prefer direct email.

Be the customer

One of the best ways to understand your customers is to pay attention to them whenever you have the opportunity to interact with them. Put yourself in their shoes – if you were a customer, would you find your company’s website easy to navigate? Would you find the tweets relevant? Would you be swayed to buy a product because of a photo on Facebook? It’s easy to get so wrapped up in promoting a produce or message that we fail to think about it from a different viewpoint.

Putting it together

Twitter and social media is constantly evolving, so don’t worry if you can’t figure out a great marketing plan overnight. Take time to research your clients so that every message you produce reaches the widest possible audience that’s most inclined to generate business. Once you’ve mastered the basics of social media, you can try some more innovative approaches to engaging your clients.