Why A/B Testing Should Be Your Next Step on Social Media
When you post on social media three things can happen:
- Your audience ignores (ouch!)
- Your audience responds (with a like, share, or comment — not bad!)
- Your audience is SO interested, they click (and potentially convert — hooray!)
However, as marketers we always strive to understand the why behind our audience’s actions; why did they ignore, why did they respond, and why did they click? And what a better way to do that than with A/B testing!
A/B Testing with Social Media
On social media, A/B testing allows you to very quickly attribute the user’s action to one specific element — be it the visual, copy, CTA, or anything else you choose to test.
Formal definition: A/B testing involves comparing two marketing items with one small variation at a time to determine which one is most effective based on your given metrics. The more you tweak and refine your copy, visuals, and CTA’s, the more granular your understanding will be of what works and what doesn’t.
If you think about it, testing has always been a vital tool in marketing. For years, marketers have been running A/B tests on almost every channel they deem important. Emails are a great example for this. How many times have you changed your subject lines, call-to-actions, and layouts to try and improve your open-rates and click-through rates? It’s incredible how a simple practice can mean the difference between generating one lead to 100.
Which begs the question: if A/B testing is so damn effective, why aren’t marketers A/B testing their social media strategy? The answer is simple. Often times, marketers believe that A/B testing is only effective when there’s a sufficient amount of data available for reliable results — and that social media falls short on this front. However, this shouldn’t stop you from testing different types of social media content and messaging. With the right set of B2B metrics, social media offers a wealth of opportunities for testing and improving your results.
To give you a taste, here are some of the ways you can A/B test across the major social channels:
- Post text: Keep it simple. Test different headlines, post length, punctuation, capitalization, and emojis to reveal what your audience finds engaging.
- Hashtags: Alternate the ways you use hashtags — for example, #b2bmarketing or #b2b #marketing, or even without hashtags at all!
- Visuals: Find out how a post with text only performs compared to a post with a photo, video, or GIF. Then, you can test variations among the visuals — short versus long video, photos of people versus photos of graphs, static image versus GIF, and so on.
- Networks: Consider which network your content is promoted on — your optimal message can also vary from network to network.
- Headline preview: The slight variation in keeping the link preview or deleting it (and adding an image instead) can also have a huge impact on results.
- Time of day: Identify the best time and day to deliver your message.
- Profile: You can also A/B test almost every aspect of your page such as your profile picture, cover photos, about section, and pinned post.
- Audience: Test your messaging across different audience segments (demographics, geographics, demographics, psychographics) to see which ones are more receptive.
Another reason for the avoidance of social media A/B testing comes from a more personal spot. Many marketers — either because they are not “analytical types”, or perhaps it is the fear of being measured — feel that real marketing is all about creative…. And as a result, their focus shifts away from the analytical and data-driven approaches, and towards the “feel-good” metrics. I’m talking about the likes, followers, and shares which look great on paper — but in our B2B reality — have no quantifiable impact.
So I’m going to say this: while creativity is unequivocally a core aspect of marketing (and the reason why most of us got into this profession in the first place), today’s marketers need to take more accountability for the value they bring to the company; from their email deliverability to the leads they bring from social media.
Optimization is Everything
With this in mind, the key to success on social media is to continuously optimize the in’s and out’s of your strategy through A/B tests. That means refining even the most minute details inside your posts. For example, A/B testing video length on Facebook (30-second versus 2-minutes). While shorter videos tend to outperform long ones, Facebook has recently shifted its algorithm to boost longer videos in newsfeeds. It would, therefore, be interesting to see if, despite Facebook’s algorithm change, your audience still favors shorter videos.
The more you tweak, the more you will be able to reach a “near-perfect” product. The reason I say “near-perfect” is because optimization is a never-ending cycle; where marketers try to create the best copy, with the best image, targeting the most receptive audience, at an ideal time. Just the thought of that can get you exhausted! Fortunately, having the best copy or the best image is sometimes enough to drive higher conversions and improve your social media ROI.
Once you’ve run your A/B test, there are two categories of results you’ll want to look at:
As mentioned earlier, these are the kind of metrics which will help you align social media with real business outcomes. Knowing exactly which image, copy, or CTA drove those prospects to click and convert (in your A/B test) will give you a more accurate result of your winning message, as well as a significant building block to boast to your company.
With the Oktopost, B2B social media management platform , your marketing team can perform powerful social media A/B tests that focus on tracking clicks and all the way down to conversion rate. Using these analytics, you can get creative with optimizing your social media strategy to its finest degree, and never settle for ‘okay’.
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Originally published at www.oktopost.com on August 15, 2017.