How often should you post to your blog and social media?

Publishing frequency and amplification of content is a big topic these days, and one that has recently been researched by two publishing powerhouses—Hubspot and Moz. 

Both of these companies manipulated their publishing frequencies (both increasing and decreasing the total number of posts) with some interesting findings.

Hubspot, known for producing a high volume of posts, researched several frequency strategies over the course of six weeks and measured the results of the manipulation. They based their findings on overall number of page views, leads generated through form conversions, and new subscribers to their blog.

But since Hubspot also notes that 90 percent of their lead generation on a month-to-month basis actually comes from old posts—so for purposes of the study they only tracked the traffic and leads generated from the new posts during the study—more on that later.

In short, they found that when they decreased the volume of posts, their inbound web traffic went down by 30 percent. But before you start cranking out posts like there’s no tomorrow, note that they also found that the law of diminishing returns kicks in at a certain point. In other words, consumers can only handle so much content before they stop paying attention to you.

Not surprisingly, decreasing the number of posts also decreased their traffic from email and social media. Obviously if there’s fewer links to click on, you would expect a decrease.

Based on those results, Hubspot theorizes that “Comprehensiveness can’t make up for frequency—at least when it comes to short term traffic.”

Moz on the other hand ran a similar experiment and noted different results, but then, Moz also has a different content marketing strategy overall, publishing only once per day, but with much more comprehensive material.

Moz did find that similar to Hubspot, publishing twice as many posts did increase traffic, and cutting posts in half did decrease traffic, they recorded a smaller engagement drop (at 2.9 percent) in the overall sessions.

They also found that the frequency had a negligible effect on the number of new subscribers and “likes” to posts on social media. Consistent with the Hubspot study, Moz found the same diminishing returns when it came to increasing the number of posts. 

Moz states in the study, “With some basic data clearly showing us that a day without a blog post isn’t the calamity we feared it may be, we’ve decided it’s time to raise the bar. When a post that’s scheduled to be published on our blog just isn’t quite where we think it ought to be, we’ll no longer rush it through the editing process simply because of an artificial deadline.”

What does that mean for your publishing frequency?

We conclude that you need to find the right balance for your audience, and once you’ve trained them to expect a certain frequency of posts, stick to that strategy, which is what both Moz and Hubspot decided to do based on their own findings.

We talk often that content marketers must have the mindset of publishers, and the frequency and types of content is certainly a big component.

Take your daily New York Times or Wall Street Journal for example. You come to expect the daily headlines and know what types of articles they publish, which is why you read them in the first place. Reading these publications does not indicate that you’re not going to read your monthly Forbes magazine, because perhaps you enjoy the different approach to research and tone.  

You might love them both of these types of publications equally, but they serve different purposes to you, so you need to figure out what purpose you serve to your audience and execute consistently.

In addition to increased traffic on your website, high-volume frequency of posts may also be important in building your overall library—remember, Hubspot and Moz both note that the wide majority of monthly leads come from old posts. 

In fact, another Hubspot study suggests that there’s a hockey stick effect that happens when you get over 300-400 posts on your site. Companies that had achieved that level of library generated 3 to 4 times more leads on a monthly basis compared to companies that fall below that threshold. 

This suggests that the building of a library of content is important in the long run because most of the leads they get on a monthly basis (in the neighborhood of 90 percent) come from long tail keyword searches that point to those posts. 

It also suggests that instead of expecting immediate results from publishing, the goal is to build a frequency that gets you over the 300-400 post threshold.

But 400 posts is a large burden for most small companies, especially if they’re only posting one or two posts per week. 

So what’s the conclusion to post frequency?

If you’re just starting down the road of content marketing as a lead generator, publishing as much as you can to build library is important. As you increase the traffic, you can supplement that posting strategy with more in-depth articles and research until you find the right mix that’s valuable to your audience.