Social Media A/B Testing

Even though we consider ourselves social media marketers, all of us are actually scientists. We're continuously running different experiments to find the best way to convert consumers into customers. One of the most popular experiments being talked about in digital marketing, specifically e-mail marketing and display advertising, today is "A/B testing". But what about social media?

Can the benefits of A/B testing be applied to social media? Of course.

Exactly what is it and how will it help a brand's social media campaign? Let's get into that.

A/B testing is an experimental process that tests different variables against each other. In layman's terms, you're testing to find what will make your audience react the way you want them to. No matter what channel you are testing, the goal of A/B testing is the same, you're looking to find the best combination that encourages your target market to accomplish your end goal (clicks, purchases, website visits, etc.).

In regards to social media, the winning combination that we're looking for is:

The right image with the best copy, aimed at a specific target, at the perfect time.

The key to finding the Holy Grail of combinations is to keep one variable constant while changing another. For example, if you're looking for the perfect image for a LinkedIn ad, you may set up a campaign that consists of the same copy paired with different images. Like the example below:

LinkedIn Ad Variation
After a few days of testing you will be able to see which images work the best. Then it's on to the next test, testing copy. Since you now know what the best images are, you can then test those images against different lines of copy for a period of time.

After gaining an understanding of the visual combination your audience reacts to best, you can then test which target audiences are most responsive to these ads. Then with the data from those ads you can see what day of the week and, depending on the platform, what time your target is most responsive.

This process can work for posting daily content as well. For example, you test whether posting quotes works best on #MotivationMonday:

E-Complish #MotivationMonday
Or #WisdomWednesday:

E-Complish #WisdomWednesday
In addition to testing posts and ads individually, you can also use the information you learn in paid advertising to improve your daily content and vice versa. If an image in an ad works well it may also work well in a daily post. You'll never know until you try, but keep in mind A/B testing is a continuous learning process.

There will always be new markets to explore and more optimizations to be made. As marketers, it's our job to continuously improve and look for the best ways to communicate our brand message. That is why after starting one A/B test you will find this process to be a little bit like a never-ending experiment that can provide a business with an infinite amount of ways to optimize.

What is the first variable you're going to test? Let us know by tweeting us at @BFMweb or by leaving a comment below!

10 Ways to Integrate Social Media Whitepaper
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