We all know the purchase power of Black Friday. 247 million shoppers hit stores and websites during the Black Friday weekend last year.

But just knowing the sheer number of consumers won’t help you craft a social marketing strategy. Know what will? Understanding when to push out your offers and messaging.

The data is clear: When it comes to Black Friday offers, your campaigns should hit early and often. In fact, you might want to think of it like a drip campaign, where you consistently post, tweet and share from Thanksgiving night through the wee hours of Friday morning.

We looked at survey data collected by the National Retail Federation (NRF) after Black Friday 2012, and found an hour-by-hour breakdown of when men and women shop for deals. There are some surprises.

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The shopping spree starts strong around 8 p.m. on Thanksgiving and spikes again around midnight on Friday before tapering off. It picks back up around 5 a.m. and continues steadily. The NRF doesn’t ask how respondents spread out their shopping the rest of the day – just if it was after 10 a.m. so the spike is an outlier.

And if you think you’re fine just hitting up potential customers after 9 a.m., think again. The data found that 60% of female shoppers and 63% of male shoppers arrived at stores before 10 a.m. on Friday.

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There are two clear implications from the data. First, marketers need to push their promotions, deals and offers to customers when they are thinking about hitting up stores. This means in the post-Thanksgiving dinner daze, near the midnight rush, and then in the early hours of Black Friday. In fact, your tweets and posts should be scheduled to hit throughout the morning and later in the day to maximize exposure.

Secondly, don’t count on an exclusively female audience. The NRF’s survey actually shows a slight lead in the number of male shoppers hitting up the stores before 10 a.m. So tailor your promotions, contests and messages for both men and women.

Finally, think mobile. Consumers are on the go. You can bet they’ll be checking their Facebook statuses and tweeting from their smartphones. Be sure your campaigns are designed to reach mobile users. You might even consider putting ad spend targeted to mobile users against your campaign.

If you want more inspiration, check out our Tips for Black Friday Social Campaigns.