Testing. One, two, three, testing. This is a test. Everything is a test. At least it should be in the world of marketing, where the only way to your audience’s heart is through regular testing that helps you understand what they do and don’t like.  

Sometimes great ideas are born out of a moment of genius. But more often than not, they’re the result of rigorous testing. You only need to look at the top brands to see the benefits of testing. In 2012, a single ad display change, which was the result of A/B testing, increased Microsoft’s revenue by 12 percent. 

As an extension of marketing, social media is another area where you should test regularly. Social testing increases your chances of building a successful brand across different social media networks. It can also help you make a case for changing tactics if specific outreach methods aren’t working. 

If you’re new to the world of social media testing, you’ve landed in the right place. In this article, we’ll explain what social media testing is and how you can use it to your brand’s advantage. 

What is social media testing?

what is social media testing

Social media testing is looking at your outreach across social media platforms and using data-led insights to make informed decisions. You’ll likely already use data to understand your metrics better, but the data for social media testing provides specific answers and compares different messaging architectures. 

There are different types of social media testing (more on that later!), with each one designed to give you a better idea about what connects with your audience. It allows you to identify specific variables and understand the landscape you’re operating in. 

Why should you use social media testing? 

Social media testing results

The saying, “if you throw enough mud at a wall, something will finally stick” isn’t best practice for any social media marketer who wants to generate engagement. A better idea is the practice of thorough social media testing. 

Social media testing means that you’re working off tangible information designed to improve your process. It yields better results and helps point focus on the most critical areas of your social media outreach. 

Almost 50 percent of marketers say that identifying and understanding their target audience is their biggest challenge. Continuous social media testing helps marketers overcome one of the most challenging aspects of the job by providing real-time insights. 

Different types of social media testing

There’s no definitive way of testing on social media. And there are so many variables with a social post [that] testing ends up taking on many forms. It can be as minute as changing a photo or as large as two different posts with completely different copy for the same messages.

The primary types of testing include: 

A/B testing

A/B testing

A/B testing involves trying different methods for the same piece of content. For example, in the regular world of marketing, you could send two emails about the same topic using different subject lines and slightly different copy. 

Then you’d test which one garnered the best response and use it as your primary email send. Social media testing is much the same, allowing you to test small variations to work out what resonates most with your audience.

For example, you might keep the copy for each post the same but change the primary image and the headline tag. You may also post them at identical times during the day so that you’re only testing the reaction to the title and imagery. 

Multivariate testing

multivariate testing

Multivariate testing happens on a larger scale than A/B, which means it can produce slightly more vague results. However, it’s still worth using as a tactic to garner insights into how your audience reacts when you change more than one element of a post. 

For example, you might keep the copy for each post the same but change the primary image and the headline tag. You may also post them at identical times during the day so that you’re only testing the reaction to the title and imagery. 

The primary goal is to see which one gets more clicks. This can work well for paid ads as you’ll want to cross reference large audiences who interact with the post. The results can help define your PPC strategy and reveal which ads work best for your target demographic. 

How to test on social media

how to test on social media

Now that you have a better idea about the ins and outs of social media testing, you’ll want to put some of the theory into practice. Before you start testing, however, you’ll need to have a few important aspects in place first. 

  • An understanding of what you want to achieve with testing (is the goal to achieve larger follower counts, increased likes, click-through rates, et cetera?)
  • Ideas about what you want to test (does your audience respond more to images or videos, for example?)
  • Your current social strategy media and goals

Once you have the above in place, you can start testing on social media to get a better understanding of your audiences’ tastes. 

Type of content

Decide on the type of content you want to test. Do you want to trial which imagery works best, or is copy your primary target? Perhaps you want to look at the best times during the day to send a post, or maybe you prefer to focus on longer and shorter form posts to which one is more popular. 

Testing type

Choose between an A/B test or multivariable depending on the type of content you select as your guinea pig. Also, think about the platform you’re testing on. It’s best to run multiple tests on each social network: eg, two posts on Twitter, rather than one on Twitter and one on Instagram. Each social media platform commands different audiences, and testing them against each other may muddle results. 

Length of test

How long do you wish to test for? Do you plan to compare two posts directly, or is the goal to examine a series of posts over a few days?

Analyze results

Keep track of the results as they come in and then compare them to see which of your posts yields the most engagement. Analyzing results can help you identify new opportunities or use it as a case study to present to the broader team. 

This is a test

Social media testing is the only way to be sure of your success. Without it, you’re trying various approaches without really knowing how well they’re working. With it, however, you’re creating a watertight process that provides key information about what your audience’s response to. Such insight can help shape and build your strategy while providing a strong social media marketing outreach. 

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