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7 Tips for Implementing A/B Testing in your Social Media Campaigns

A/B testing has been around for decades, even before the advent of the internet or social media. In fact, it actually spans back to the time when James Lind first conducted an A/B test in a clinical trial over 300 years ago.

Many years later, Google famously used an A/B test to decide which shade of blue to use in its campaigns, showing each shade to 1% of their users. Some time in between James Lind and Google, marketers would run tests on TV or newspaper ads. They would then assess the results and make changes accordingly, and then conduct more tests, and so forth. These tests started weeks – or even months – before the campaign launch, making for a time-consuming and tedious process.

Fortunately, testing is an easier process nowadays, and marketers are able to test virtually all elements of a campaign. More specifically, A/B testing has found a special importance in social media. Digital marketers introduce two slightly different posts, testing various elements to see which one gets a better response.

Although testing has become easier, it has certainly become more complex as well. The issue that many marketers now face is knowing where and how to introduce testing in their social media campaigns. To help, we’ve compiled a list of the elements of a social campaign that you should be testing, and how you can start executing these tests right away.

1. Find Your Target Audience

Before you start a campaign, you have to get to know your target audience. This process for testing is unique, in that you won’t be changing the actual contents of the campaign. Instead, you will show the same advertisement or post to various segments to see which one will react best.

For instance, when testing Facebook ads, you will generally want to segment by location, age, gender, device, platform, or interests.

2. Experiment with Hashtags

While using too many hashtags might annoy your audience, just the right amount could get your post more attention. Having said that, you should avoid simply testing a post with hashtags versus a post without hashtags. Companies tend to test posts with multiple hashtags against those with just one, posts with different hashtags, as well as hashtag placement within the post.

3. Test Various Ad Formats

When using social media advertising, you should definitely be testing different ad formats. Specifically, in the case of Facebook, some formats will work best for certain types of posts. Edith McClung, a Digital Marketer at Academized, gives a great example: “While a carousel ad might work for a product launch – viewers will be able to see multiple pictures of your product – an advertisement with ‘Get Directions’ might work better with a restaurant launch”. Keep in mind that different advertisement types will have varied results based on your target audience and the content you are promoting.

 4. Change Up the Post Text

This is perhaps the most common practice when it comes to social media split testing, as there are various elements of your post text might affect your success differently.

Here are some things that you could test:

  • Length of the post
  • Style
  • Use of emoji
  • Tone of voice
  • Use of numbers and lists

Remember, you always want to always proofread your posts. Even though we live in the age of texting and abbreviations, readers still expect your posts to be flawless. Even the smallest mistakes can be off-putting to the reader. Using tools such as AcademAdvisor or Via Writing can help.

5. Use Different Images and Videos

While it’s generally the case that social media users prefer posts that feature images and videos, it’s still important to test this on your own audience for each specific platform. For example, split testing often shows that Twitter users prefer GIFs to regular images, so companies present on this social media platform tend to use GIFS more often than other types of graphics.

The testing possibilities are endless, as you can try posts with no images or videos versus text with images and videos, posts with gifs versus posts with images, the length of the video in posts, etc.

Just be sure to balance informative text out with visual content and use an appealing format. Tools like like Boom Essays or Essay Roo can help.

6. Play Around With Your CTAs

Your Call-To-Action is another crucial, yet often overlooked component to your post. Users have varied responses to different CTAs, and you need to find the one that will work best for your audience. Test several CTAs in your posts and use the one that is most relevant yet also gets you the most clicks.

7. Try Out Different Headlines

Headlines are one of the most important aspects to your posts, as they are often the most prominent component. Test the same factors that you normally would in post content – length of the headline, use of numbers, style, etc. If writing headlines aren’t your strength, it might be a good idea to use a guide – websites like StateOfWriting or UK Writings can help you.

Wrapping Up

Split testing is one of the best methods out there for getting things right on social media. The same post can get a different response based on the title, CTA, advertisement type, etc. By continuing to test, you will be able to optimize your social media strategy by finding what works best with your audience.

In this day and age, it has become so apparent how much social media can impact the success of a business or brand, and by adding A/B testing to your repertoire, you could be seeing even more of a benefit from platforms that you are already using.  So get creative, have fun with it, and watch your business grow.


Freddie Tubbs is a digital marketing strategist at Paper Fellows. He regularly takes part in online marketing conferences and contributes expert articles to the Vault, Australian Help and Big Assignments blogs.

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