It’s a common marketer’s tenet: Always Be A/B Testing. In email campaigns, marketers A/B test subject lines, headers, images, templates, and of course, calls to action. A/B testing landing pages is a breeze as well. Reducing the amount of distracting links and placing social proof above the fold can lead to instant results.
A/B testing content on social media can be less straightforward. We know that social media is an important element of inbound marketing, but optimizing your social media strategy can seem like taking a shot in the dark. How do you track success? How do you reach statistical significance? What can even be tested?
What to Test
- A great place to start is testing the time of day that you post. Buffer found that Tweets received the most clicks in the early morning, with a significant drop off after 8:00 a.m. Twitter might be the most active in the middle of the day, but when is your audience going to be online and have time for your content?
- Test the use of images in posts. This could be done a variety of different ways, including testing the type of image used (animation vs. photo), text on image or not, or different images in paid social ads. Be sure when you test different images that you’re testing them with the same content. For instance, share content using one image on Twitter one week, then share the same content with a different image at the same time, same day the following week (with lots of tweets in between, of course). Which one got more clicks/favorites/retweets?
- Test grammar. Yes, let go of your trusted writer’s manual, and adopt the short-form communication of a Tweet or a Post. Your audience might prefer leading questions or declarative sentences. Some brands are even experimenting with emoji when they communicate with their customers.
- Remember to also test the way you present yourself on social media. Your bio page is like a mini landing page for your brand, complete with a profile picture, a link to your landing page, and an “about me,” which hopefully includes a call to action. Each of these elements can be tested by changing one at a time.
How to Test
An email is easy to A/B test because you can divide your audience in two and send to both at the same time. However, on social media, you don’t necessarily control who sees what content.
Try utilizing multiple accounts. Chances are, your company is using more than one social media account to promote your content, and this can be a helpful way to test against similar segments. Our team members at Socedo connect with marketing and sales professionals on Twitter, but we avoid overlap by dividing up the specific topics and interests of our followers.
Testing content across platforms can be another useful strategy. Content can become stale quickly, especially on social media. Even the best blog posts are only meant to be read once, and no one wants to see more than a few Tweets promoting it in their feed. Take a successful Tweet, and try posting it on Facebook or LinkedIn with a different headline. The platforms might have different engagement rates, but you can track how well the post performs against historical standards.
Track Your Success
Social media is all about amplification and interaction. You want people engaging with your content. For lead generation, click-through rate should be your primary goal, but don’t forget about engagement rates as well. Track how often your content has been shared by other users. Test how well your profile page is performing by your follower rate, as well as the CTR to your landing page.
At Socedo, we track the conversion rate of new leads down to the content level. Using unique URLs with custom reftags for each content post can help you track in Google Analytics, or tools like Oktopost can track the effectiveness of your content directly. You can also use Bit.ly to create two different shortened links and track performance.
Variety makes your new content stand out from the old. Once you find what works, keep it interesting by A/B testing some new ideas. You can always improve CTR, and what works best today might not be the best tomorrow. Customers who use the A/B testing feature in Socedo for their direct messages find that a good DM is an evolving process, as their audience changes over time. Optimize every point in your customer’s journey, from the first Tweet in their feed to the signup form on your landing page. Never settle for the status quo.