Let me start with a warning. If you’re going to use the ideas that I present in this article only haphazardly then you’re going to get an imperfect picture of what’s actually going on. For all you know, your content could be swinging back and forth but because you measured at two points where it got about the same reading you think your content is incredibly steady.
I advise that you make the testing of your social media content a regular party of your online strategy, so that you’ll be in a position to actually get a clear reading of what is going on and – as a result – be able to make the correct calls with all the information.
Got that? Okay, let’s move on to how to test your social media
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So what should you test?
For the sake of this article I’m only going to focus on two different platforms. Let’s pick twitter and Facebook because they’re among the most popular and they work quite differently.
Note that for different businesses there are different things that you want to test. Here is a list of 11 possible things that you could decide to check:
- Number of comments
- Number of shares
- Calls to Action (CTAs)
- Posting Times
- Status types (videos, images, text, etc.)
The testing I’m going to explore are A/B testing and UTM tracking. Okay, come out from under the bed. It really isn’t half as bad as it sounds.
A/B testing is quite a simple idea. You take two variations of the same page and then you randomly send half your traffic to one and the other half to the other. Then you see what happens. If you’ve got enough people that actually go to your pages then their differences average out through the random assignment and you can get a pretty good idea of which works better.
The one might get more engagement than the other, for example, or it might get shared more.
Now the key to A/B testing is to not go overboard. Yeah, you might want to test a new image, a new headline, a new font and a new background color at the same time. The only problem with that is that when one page does get more attention than the other, you don’t actually know which element did it!
And so, the best tests are where you only vary one element that you want to find out about. So, try testing headlines, custom writing or two images only. Then you’ll actually be able to use the results!
UTM codes are bits of extra code that you can add to the back of links so that programs like Google Analytics know more about where people come from. In other words, they’re like little flags that – instead of sending people to specific sites – instead tell you what sites they came from, or what original site the code originated on.
For example, if somebody finds one of my pages through Facebook and then decides to share it on their own network, chances are good they won’t remove the UTM code. That means that I’ll know that link originated on Facebook, even though now the traffic is coming to my website from another page. Neat, huh?
Want to use these babies? Then check out UTM for the win. It’s a Chrome extension that lets you create custom UTM codes. It’s incredibly easy to use. And you know what? You can use the UTM Codes in your A/B test. That just made it that much easier, didn’t it?
Putting it into practice
Okay, let’s say that you want to test two different images to see which one is the best. Take a post that you’ve had some success with in the past, so that you know that it’s probably going to do well if you push it through a campaign.
Now, if this post already has two different images associated with it, so much the better. That means you’ve got to do a whole lot less work. Otherwise, create two images. These are the ones that you’re going to put on the different social media platforms.
Now, as I said above, you don’t want to vary too many elements, so find a headline that works well for both images. Run it through CoSchedule Header to see what they think, so that you’ve got the best likelihood of having something that work well.
Create four unique UTM trackers – one for each image on Facebook and one for each image on Twitter.
Make sure that you write down these four new URLs so that you know which one is which. Next, find out when most of your audience is online. Now, to create the best possible effect it’s a good idea to use similar days and similar peaks. The less similar the days (e.g. Wednesday and Saturday) the more noise you’re adding into the test.
Of course, the best would be this week Monday at two o’clock and next week Monday at two o’clock. The only drawback, of course, is that it will mean you’ll have to wait longer to find out your results, as you’ll have to wait for them both to peter out. If you choose them for two different peaks on the same day, that won’t happen.
Then you simply schedule the posts and wait for the attention to these four links to die down. Normally, that will only take a few hours to happen.
Now, all you’ve got to do is check out the results in Google Analytics. Which got more attention on which network? Congratulations. You’ve just done your first A/B UTM test.
You can try this with almost anything that I listed above. So go ahead and try it. It will give you a much better insight as to what actually attracts and motivates your audience and from there you’ll have a much better idea of what kind of strategy works well for your audience.
And that’s worth knowing, as it will mean you’ll be able to attract that much more people to each of your posts. Good luck and good testing.
Terry Meiners is a business owner and a passionate writer. Loves to share his experience on business and help people to understand it better. You can contact him via Facebook