How to run successful A/B tests on social media

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If you want to create the most effective ads for your business, social media A/B testing is an essential tool. A/B testing is nothing new; in fact, people have been doing it long before the arrival of the internet.

Originally, direct-mail marketers would use A/B testing to test a small portion of their contact lists to determine whether printing and mailing the entire campaign was worth the cost.

A/B testing social media can provide real-time insights. When A/B testing becomes an integral part of social media campaigns, strategies can be refined quickly and responsively.

What is A/B testing?

A/B testing, also called “split testing,” applies a scientific principle to a marketing strategy. It involves testing small variations of content on social media platforms to determine which variation of the content performed best.

A/B testing social media involves randomly dividing the audience into two groups. Each group then sees one of two variations of the ad. You can then compare the engagement of the two groups and decide which variant is most effective.

It is possible to use a number of metrics that fit your strategy to track your results and effectively measure your success; however, the most important thing is that you only change one element between variants.

The purpose of testing is to measure audience response to both variants.

If two elements are changed, it is impossible to know which element is responsible for the different responses of the two ads.

Why Should You Implement A/B Testing on Social Media?

A/B testing for Facebook ads and other social media advertising platforms is crucial because it allows you to find out what works best with your target audience.

There are many studies that look at the general marketing strategies that have proven to be effective. While these general rules are a good starting point, these universal “best practices” simply are not always the right choice for every situation.

By conducting your own tests, you can turn these general ideas into results that are specific to your own brand.

A/B testing social media provides you with important information about the specific likes and dislikes of your target audience. Not only will you discover these preferences, you’ll also gain insight into the differences between different segments of the target audience.

It’s also worth noting that you can use A/B testing to gain insights from all types of content, not only ads. For example, if you test the organic content you produce, you can gain helpful information about the content that you should be paying to promote.

6 Important Elements You Should A/B Test

1. Post Copy

One of the most important things that you should A/B test is your post copy.

Coming up with social media post ideas is an important part of your strategy, but you need to ensure those posts achieve the desired objective.

There are several elements of your post that you can A/B test including:

  • length of the post
  • style of the post
  • use of emojis
  • use of numbers for posts that link to numbered lists
  • how punctuation is used

By assessing how each of these elements resonates with your audience, you can figure out how best to craft your next social media post.

2. Post Creative

Many social media audit results have shown that posts containing videos and images perform better than posts without such visuals.

Nevertheless, you should still test this theory on your own audience. After all, there’s no one-size-fits-all when it comes to successful marketing campaigns.

Creative testing is especially important if you want to increase Facebook ad conversions.

Some elements you can test when A/B testing creative elements of your social media posts are:

  • text-only post vs. visual post performance
  • regular image vs. animated GIF engagement rates
  • engagement with product images vs. infographics and charts
  • the length of the most effective videos

3. Call to Action

Before you use a management tool to schedule a social media post upload, it’s important to check that the CTA you’ve chosen is compelling.

A CTA or “call to action” is a key element of any successful marketing campaign. Essentially, it is the point at which you ask the user to engage with your brand.

Since this step is such an important part of your social media post, you need to be sure you’ve chosen the right CTA. A/B testing is incredibly useful in identifying the strength or pitfalls of your chosen CTA.

Since there are many different ways to drive user engagement, you can figure out which ones hit the spot by testing out the different options with different segments of your audience.

The most effective CTA will get the user to click through to a page that you’ve set up with your landing page creator to convert them from mere a visitor into paying customer.

4. Ad Formats

It goes without saying that ads come in a variety of different formats. So how do you know which format will be most effective for the content you create? The answer lies in A/B testing.

Test out different ad formats to determine which ones your target audience are most likely to respond well to.

Perhaps carousel ads will be the most effective choice for announcing new products, while a local ad with a button saying “get directions” will be more effective if you are opening a physical store.

By comparing different formats in A/B tests, you can easily determine which formats work best for each type of promotion.

5. Target Audience

Audience A/B testing involves a slightly different approach. Instead of showing different variations of an ad or post to similar audiences, you’ll show an identical post or ad to different audience segments to find out which response is better.

You may find that one audience actively responds to your ad, while the other audience does not respond to the ad at all.

By testing these theories, you can determine exactly how different segments of your audience will respond.

Depending on which social network you use, your targeting options will vary; in general, you can segment by language, gender, platform, and device, as well as by specific user characteristics and online behaviors.

The results you get will help you develop highly specialized campaigns and strategies that work for each segment of your market.

6. Headlines

A vital element of any post on social media is the headline, as it is especially prominent. There are several factors for the headline that you should A/B test:

  • Length
  • Number usage for attention-grabbing
  • Formatting

Based on the data you receive, you can determine how best to craft this important factor of your ad or content.

Wrap Up

When it comes to finding the right strategy for your social media, split testing is an extremely effective option.

You’ll be surprised to see just how different the response to a post can be when you adjust its CTA, title, and other custom features.

If you run tests regularly, you can easily optimize your strategy by finding out what resonates best with your target audience.

Nowadays, it’s clear that social media has a huge impact on the success of a brand or business. When you incorporate A/B testing into your strategy, you’ll find that you can get even more value from the platforms you are currently using.

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