Jul 22 How to Run A/B Tests on Social Media
Running A/B tests is one of the most effective ways of optimizing your social media presence. The benefits of social media optimization run deep. From increasing your visibility to boosting engagement and improving your customer service, optimizing your social media presence can bring about rapid and consistent growth. According to statistics, over 80% of consumers say they would buy from businesses they follow on social media. Actually, they admit that they would choose that business over a competitor. Optimized social media presence not only earns you more followers but it allows you to win their loyalty and fuel your revenue growth. For this reason, running A/B tests should be an ongoing marketing strategy for your business.
What is A/B Testing?
A/B testing entails comparing two versions of given variables against each other to determine which performs best. Though modern A/B testing has significantly improved, the practice dates a century back. The first documented test was done by a statistician, Ronald Fisher, on agricultural experiments. But it wasn’t until several decades later when marketers started using A/B testing to evaluate direct response campaigns. As you would guess, the manual tests were slow and tedious, unlike today’s online tests that are real-time, hence easy to implement. Noteworthy is that A/B requires testing one variation at a time. For instance, if you want to evaluate which image and video ads perform better, you should keep your audience demographic constant. On the other hand, you can measure how a particular ad format performs, say an image ad, across different demographics.
Why Should You Implement A/B Testing?
The essence of implementing A/B testing is to establish the most effective way of reaching different audience demographics. That’s why it’s essential to keep a constant variable for accurate results. In a nutshell, running A/B testing on social media helps you understand your audience in order to maximize your marketing efforts. It provides a means to test your ideas to generate insights and inform your strategy.
Note that it shouldn’t be a one-off exercise, but you should conduct it continuously to keep refining your marketing strategies. This is because what works for your audience today might not cut it tomorrow, hence the importance of constant strategy evaluation.
Generally, there are helpful digital marketing statistics out there that you can utilize to inform your marketing strategies. However, they may fail to give you brand-specific insights that A/B testing can reveal. Mainly, working with general statistics involves relying on assumptions based on isolated research.
We are not discrediting marketing research in any way. The figures come in handy in giving us a bearing and propelling us closer to our goals. But if you want a fully optimized social media presence, as we began by saying, then A/B testing is the way to go. Not only does it provide brand-specific insights, but it helps you test different scenarios by evaluating small variations within your social channels.
For instance, we began by noting that consumers support the brands they follow on social media. The data enlightens us about the importance of having an active social media presence. However, that’s a very general observation. There are several social media platforms, and their suitability to your business may vary depending on what your brand represents. Some brands do well on LinkedIn, and others thrive on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and so forth.
A/B testing can help determine which channels are ideal for your brand, hence concentrate your efforts on them. Once you identify your best picks, you can further do tests to optimize your presence on a specific platform.
What Can You A/B Test?
There is no restriction as to what you should A/B test. Any idea you come up with can be tested. The crucial thing is that you can only test one item at a time to obtain valuable insights. However, here is a list of common test parameters to get you started.
You can test different variations of a post text. For instance, you can experiment with posts of varying lengths on the same audience to establish the ideal post length for your tribe. You can also evaluate which post styles fair best with your audience – quote, question, statistic, etc. Again, A/B testing can help you find out how emojis vs. words fairs with different audience segments. Or you could test the tone of voice that your brand followers prefer.
Generally, visual content (image and video) performs better than text content. But that could vary depending on the audience. Hence, you can test which visual content your brand audience consumes most, or if they prefer it over text after all. You may also delve into more specific research by comparing how different images (regular images, infographics, GIFs, etc.) affect engagement. Similarly, you can experiment with various video elements, e,g., video length, to establish what your audience prefers.
If you’re running different promotions, say, product announcement, contest, holiday sales, etc., you can test various ad formats before the campaign to establish the ideal format for your audience.
As we mentioned earlier, you can also test how different demographics of your audience respond to particular content. This would involve segmenting the audience then displaying similar content to them. You can then use the results to design relevant campaigns for each group.
How to Run the A/B Tests
The structure of an A/B test is pretty simple. It involves the following steps:
- Understanding your buyer personas
- Segmenting the audience into their demographics – gender, age, interests, income, etc.
- Choosing the variation to test
- Running the test among your chosen audience segment
- Analyzing the results and determining the winner
- Developing marketing campaigns based on the findings
- Starting the process again
A/B testing is, so far, one of the most effective social media optimization strategies. This is because it helps nurture your existing audience while expanding your reach. Statistics indicate that social media users are likely to support the brands they follow over their competitors. As such, utilizing A/B testing to gain brand-specific insights can help you develop audience-relevant campaigns to increase engagement and boost your revenue.
Subscribe to Social You Should Know