Guest post from Karen McCandless, Content Editor from GetApp
Unless you’re the Professor Xavier (McAvoy not Stewart) of content marketing, you have no way of knowing exactly how your customers are going to react to your social media posts. It can seem like you’re sending out messages into the abyss and hoping for the best. This is where social media A/B testing can make a difference.
According to Socedo research:
- Leads who engaged with the company’s Twitter handle (follows, mentions and retweets) were 17.8 percent more likely to move into the opportunity stage of the sales funnel compared to leads who’ve had no interactions on social media.
- These socially engaged leads also move to the opportunity stage about half a day faster than non-socially engaged leads.
While A/B testing is really just a marketing buzzword for testing two different versions of webpages to see which your users prefer, in social media this can involve testing posts at different times across different platforms, with varying text and multimedia aspects. This can even extend to proactively sending two different versions of relevant content by direct message to people who have shown an interest in your product.
You may already be A/B testing on social media to improve engagement and increase brand visibility, but are you harnessing its potential for finding out more about your customers to better target them and convert them into hot leads?
Here we run through seven key ways that social media A/B testing can help you generate higher quality leads and better target potential customers.
1. Find the right posting frequency
Everyone has their social media pet peeves, which can range from constantly flooding their LinkedIn feed with motivational quotes, to posting click bait on Facebook, to only ever sharing your own content on Twitter. The best way to hit the sweet spot between spamming your followers and posting enough (and the right type of) content to convert them into qualified leads is to carry out A/B testing on post frequency. There’s no exact science to this, but if you see people blocking and unfollowing you then you know it’s too much.
Key takeaway: there’s a fine line between just enough and too much, but you should keep an eye on your followers to see if many drop off, as well as measuring engagement rate with posts. If you notice a decline, it may be time to shake up your content mix or decrease your posting frequency.
2. Know when to post
You may have read plenty of stats about the best time of day to post to Twitter followers, but is that the best time of day to share Tweets with your target audience or to share a post on Facebook? This is especially pertinent if you’re a niche business targeting a specific demographic in one location. A/B testing the same content at different times of day (or different days of the week) can help you find the optimal time to share posts to engage your followers and convert them into leads.
Key takeaway: Find out when your audience engages most with your content and – even if you can’t be online at that time – at least make sure you have content scheduled.
3. Define your style
It’s not just the content of a social media post that can attract customers and generate leads, but also the tone of voice. By A/B testing different types of posts, you can discover what kind of language appeals to your customers (formal or casual, serious or light-hearted) and what turns them off. The content that gets the best click through rates and engagement (this can even include negative comments) will help you decide how to craft your content to better appeal to your target audience.
Key takeaway: It’s great to get inspiration from other social media accounts, but develop your own voice and tone that appeals to your customers rather than copying others
4. Discover the products that work
If when testing similar posts on two different products you discover that one flies while the other flops, it may be time to listen to your customers and tailor the products you promote according to the channel where they get the best engagement. This extends to getting actionable feedback from customers on these products, in turn generating more leads. By carrying out A/B tests, you can find out more about what your customers want, and if it’s the product that’s the problem or if it’s an issue with the way you are promoting it to your customers.
Key takeaway: Test different variations of both post type and channel before deciding to change which products you focus on.
5. Tailor your content to the platform
A one-size-fits-all approach is unlikely to be the best way to using social media to target potential customers. Pinterest users don’t look for the same kind of content as Twitter followers or LinkedIn connections so posting the same social media message across all platforms will likely have different effects. A/B testing can help you understand these differences and see what your customers like across each channel so you can tailor future content to suit the platform. By doing this, you should see a better engagement rate with your posts.
Key takeaway: Not all social media platforms were created equally and listening to what your followers are saying across each one is key to optimizing your posts for each channel so you can better target customers.
6. Plan better responses to problems
One great way to generate leads on Twitter is by responding to customer pain points and complaints, and highlighting how you can help or do better. By A/B testing different responses to these issues on social media, you can work out what makes customers happy and how you can convert them into leads for your business. The same goes for your own unhappy customers; testing different responses can help turn a negative into a positive, and help you understand what to do better the next time.
Key takeaway: Responding to complaints about other brands is a sensitive issue so it’s important to tread carefully. A/B testing can help you learn from your mistakes and better reach out to potential (or existing customers).
7. Boost your brand
It’s not just the content or timing of your posts on social media that needs to be tested, it’s your social media presence too. What does your Twitter handle say about your business and is it easy to find? Was the last post on your Facebook page a month ago? Where does the one link you’re allowed on your Instagram page point and is it effective? By A/B testing different names, profile images, and links, you can get a better idea of who your audience is and what they want, and thus generate higher quality leads that convert better.
Key takeaway: It’s not just what you say but who you are that counts so make sure you pay attention to what’s on your profile and page and optimize this according to what works for your audience.
Remember to measure
It’s all well and good using A/B testing on social media to better target potential customers, but if you don’t measure the results you’ll have no idea of whether your experiments are working. First, define exactly what you want to achieve – just click outs or engagement and a bigger social audience – and then work out what tool you will use to measure your results. Socedo, for example, allows you to easily measure the click-through, response, and conversion rate of each of the posts and messages you’ve tested on social media.
Never stop testing
Even if you’re ahead of the social media curve, have tested the above, and are generating and converting leads faster than you ever thought possible, your work is never done. In the same way that SEO gurus try to stay ahead of Google’s algorithms by coming up with ever more innovative ways to rank on SERPs, you should try and stay ahead of the social media game by constantly testing new ways to engage with customers across all platforms. By measuring the success of your efforts, you can quickly see what has paid off and what you should drop. Now doesn’t that sound easier than joining the X-Men?
About the Author
Karen McCandless is a business and technology writer and researcher who has covered everything from mobile app reviews, to B2B topics for the retail and manufacturing industries. Karen is an editor at GetApp, a Gartner company, and you can connect with her on Twitter and LinkedIn, or check out more of her work.