Learning from eBay timing


Several few years ago I got really involved selling stuff on eBay, became a PowerSeller for a few months and turned over a nice revenue, until the choice was to give up my main job and go into eBay full time. I decided to concentrate more on my main job, and well, the rest is recent history.

One of the things I learnt from eBay was that when it comes to auctions, timing is 90% of the story.

There was little point creating an auction that would finish at say, 11am on a Monday morning. The end of the auction was when there would be the highest number of bids, and Monday morning was a poor time for attracting traffic to the bid.

I used to list items on the weekend, and pay a few pence extra for a ‘Scheduled start‘. After some trial and [lots of] error I would schedule for items to finish at around 5.30 or 6pm on Tuesdays and Thursdays. On items to do with the home, I would schedule for auctions to finish on a Sunday evening.

I’ve noticed that timing is once again really important when it comes to Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn statuses. Actually, the same is true of any status update. If someone (or a brand) continually updates a status, any previous status falls down from prominence very quickly. End users will probably be following tens, hundreds or sometimes thousands of other users/brands, so the timing between status updates is absolutely key.

I now find I’m using the same practices for writing blog articles and Twitter updates.

I write almost all the week’s blog posts on a Sunday morning, and delay them being made public – trying to stagger them over the week. Also, I try to choose a decent time when they are made public (which then posts to my Twitter page, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.). If I made them all public in one go, especially on a Sunday, only the most recent one would get any traffic.

Posterous has an excellent scheduler for blog posts. For my Twitter feed, I use either Timely, which has been written specifically to address the timing issue above, or sometimes TweetDeck. Timely is OK, but provides pretty random scheduling (you can’t provide a time – the system does it for you). I find TweetDeck is one those applications that tries to be all things to all people, and ends up being unusable to all of them as well, so in practice I tend to use Timely more often.

Photo courtesy of LenP17 on Flickr.

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